Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said that all petitions with the Electoral Tribunal should be resolved before the inauguration and swearing-in of a new president in Nigeria.
Agbakoba, speaking to ARISE News in an interview on Wednesday, stated that most of the political arguments going on in Nigeria will be solved when the petitions before the tribunal are heard and sorted out accordingly, and it will be better if these issues are sorted out before the 29th of May, as it may cause more political arguments in the country if a president is sworn-in when there are unsolved petitions before the tribunal.
He said, “In order to balance out justice, could we please get these petitions, if they can be resolved before that date?” as he urged the Electoral Tribunal to complete the process as soon as possible.
“I can understand Peter Obi’s concern and Datti Mohammed’s outburst if Mr. Tinubu is being sworn in at Eagle’s Square and the petition is hanging in the court of appeal. Where we strike the balance is to give our best possible shots to finish the petitions,” he said.
He stated that the resolving of the petitions before the Inauguration day will take away the questions of the legitimacy of the president who will be sworn-in.
The former NBA president said that the policy that gave electoral candidates 180 days to file a petition was too long, saying, “The fact that the constitution prescribes a time limit doesn’t mean that time limit must actually run.”
He then gave his opinion saying that electoral tribunal petitions can be heard in seven days.
When asked about the validity of his opinion, he said, that as long as a good judgement is given, justice will not be subverted, stating that one does not need 20 days to deliver a judgement when there is a clear-cut case where questions simply need to be answered. “Why don’t we try, even if we fail, suppose my theory of 7 days doesn’t work, let’s try to see if we can get it going, and if we can get it going, that is a plus for everybody,” he said.
On the issue of the alleged interim government plot, he said that there is no room for an interim government in the constitution.
He stated that he was not concerned about the claims of what would be an unconstitutional government as there was a reason for it, saying, “The cause for all these cries for an interim government and the response by Lai Mohammed and the DSS is because they want Mr. Tinubu to be inaugurated by May 29 irrespective of the decision of the tribunal.”
He then said that all these issues would die down when the petitions are resolved.
When he was asked who he believes would be an ideal president for Nigeria, he said that he was apolitical.
He said, “To whoever gets in there, I am interested in Nigeria turning around. So I would urge whoever finally gets to be confirmed Nigerian president, just do right by Nigerians… Nigerians are not interested in who is there particularly, they are interested in how development can come.”