Presidential polls: Nigerians knock Atiku, PDP over street protest

  • Action shows opposition party anticipates defeat in court – CSOs
  • They’re exercising their rights – Ayo Adebanjo
  • Respect your age, stop dancing ‘skelewu’ with Dino on Abuja streets, Tinubu slams former VP


Uba Group

The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, came under scathing criticisms from Nigerians on Monday following the resort by the party to embark on protests as a means of ventilating his rejection of the February 25 presidential election result.

The Independent National Electoral Commission last Wednesday declared Bola Tinubu the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress as the President –elect while Atiku came second and Peter Obi of the Labour Party came third.

Speaking to The Point on Monday evening, some Civil Society and Non-governmental organizations warned Atiku and the leadership of the party against acts capable of plunging the country into a monumental crisis.

They said the party should ensure that its protest was based on justifiable reason and not just a means to blackmail INEC even when it has already approached the court for redress.

Atiku and the PDP, just like Obi and the LP had already gone to court to seek redress, an action that earned plaudits by both local and international observers who thumbs up their decision not to resort to self-help that could lead to anarchy.

In an interview with The Point, the Chairman of the Network of Non-Governmental Organisations in Osun State, Michael Ebofin, said members of the public should sue Atiku and other PDP members should the protest continue to frustrate them and inhibit free flow of vehicular movements in the Federal Capital Territory.

Ebofin urged Atiku and others to face the case that has already been taken to the Tribunal and have faith that the court would dispense justice on the matter.

He said, “Atiku Abubakar has the right to carry out a peaceful protest with his party faithful. But, he has already approached the court. With this protest, he is already negating the first step he took which he should have waited patiently for the proceedings of the court. Does it mean that he doubts the reality of the authenticity of the court? Now, they want to protest every day, they should not disturb the public. With the protest today (Monday), so many people were disturbed and traffic congestion was caused. The people can even sue them for disturbing their movements and preventing free flow of traffic. They should wait for the court.

“Anything can happen if the protest should be allowed to continue. It’s just like they want to blackmail the INEC. Probably, they were expecting that the certificate of return shouldn’t have been given to Tinubu pending the time INEC should have come out with its findings, but since INEC didn’t do that, they should face the court. If this protest is not checked, another #ENDSARS movement may begin, especially if the Labour Party should join them. If they are not curbed, I am looking at another #ENDSARS saga coming up. If they want to protest, they shouldn’t frustrate members of the public. They should not have the wrong premonition that they won’t get justice in court,” he said.

Another political analyst and project director of Indomitable Youths Organization, one of the INEC accredited election observer groups, Bright Oniovokukor, said the PDP should ensure that there is a justifiable reason for storming the streets in protest in order not to heat up the polity.

He said, “Protest in Nigeria is always interpreted in different ways, otherwise, we ought to have what we call a peaceful protest. For Atiku to lead others to go and have a protest is supported. But, there should be a reason why they should be protesting in the sense of what they are requesting for that has not been granted in terms of the election that is leading them to protest. There should be due process in the sense that they are not the only party that is displeased in terms of announcing Tinubu the winner of the election. The Labour Party also has its own issue. So, we need to go with what we call due process unless they don’t have trust or confidence in the system anymore.

“But, again, let there be documentation. They have made a request to inspect the electoral materials, was it granted or not? If it was not granted and that is the reason why they are now going out to demonstrate, one would understand because you can’t be passing through a legal process and also going on to protest. There must be some justification. Aside from that, every Nigerian has the right to protest and it’s normal but in a situation like this, there should be a justification. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We are not happy with the way INEC managed the election, that’s obvious but anybody that wants to protest should do that in line with the law and justifiable reason.

“Making the protest everyday may be an act of intimidating INEC but the bottom line should be that there must be justifiable reason for them to protest.”

Spokesman for the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Ken Robinson, described the protest as “unnecessary.”

He said as far as the Southern and Middle Belt Forum and PANDEF were concerned, Atiku and PDP didn’t play by the rules in picking Atiku Abubakar as its presidential flag bearer.

“For us, the protest is unnecessary because the people in PDP did what was not right. They disrespected the principle of power rotation of the presidency between the north and the south. Their argument was that the APC was having the presidency and the PDP was not bound to respect rotation. But the presidency is the presidency of Nigeria; it is not the presidency of the party. So, in the first place, we have no sympathy for the PDP because we instructed our people not to vote for any party with a northern candidate for the purpose of equity, fairness and justice. Therefore, their protest at INEC today was completely out of place.

“We align ourselves with those who are saying that if you have gone to court, why do you want to seek public opinion in your favour? It was unnecessary and I’m sure that the necessary authorities will ignore that protest. As far as we’re concerned, Atiku Abubakar and the PDP ignored us from the beginning and we shouldn’t have any sympathy for them. They tried to throw Nigeria into some kind of confusion that after eight years of northern presidency, as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari, people could think that another Fulani who is a northern person should come and rule Nigeria today as president which is completely unacceptable and we maintain that position and we hope that those who are unsatisfied with the outcome of the election will abide by the constitutional provisions and employ peaceful means of seeking redress.


“We saw what happened during the ENDSARS protest which began as a peaceful protest like the young people who were protesting police brutalisation. It was hijacked by criminals, miscreants and hoodlums and it became something that we shouldn’t even recall. So, any attempt by any political group or persons to use the outcome of the elections to cause further crises to cause destruction of lives and properties in Nigeria should be condemned by every patriotic Nigerian. They should follow the due process of the law and present their matter before the court and seek justice if they think that they won the election. Going to INEC to demonstrate was completely unnecessary; it’s playing to the gallery and at their level of the former vice president and all of them there, it is a bit shameful.

However, Afenifere factional leader, Ayo Adebanjo, threw his weight behind the protest saying nothing wrong with it.

“There is nothing wrong with what they are doing, they are exercising their rights. That is the way they want to make their feelings known because INEC failed. Any method of protest minus violence is a legitimate thing in a democracy. How can they say that because they want to protest, they are inciting the people? That’s what the government will say because the government wants everybody to keep quiet as if they had done the right thing.”

On his part, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clark, said if he were the lawyer of Atiku, he would advise him not to go to the Supreme Court because he would lose the case.

Speaking during an interview on Arise Television on Monday, the elder statesman further stated that there is no election petition that has been won in Nigeria because the evidence available in court is enough for one to win any petition, he said.

According to him, “I was not on the field during the election, so I am not aware of the allegations laid by those political parties. But, Doctor Abati, tell me how many election petitions have been won in Nigeria; you will see that there are none. “As you asked me before, if I were Atiku’s lawyer, I would advise him not to go to court because the evidence on the ground is not enough for him to win the election.”