By Jesutega Onokpasa
In what is being touted as the latest twist to what is really nothing but his pathological fixation on appropriating Nigeria’s presidency to himself, former Vice President and People’s Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate in the last election, Atiku Abubarkar, has come up with a supposedly novel ground in his appeal of the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Court to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Indeed, the eternal candidate, ever the compulsive gambler, now claims he wants to rely on the doctrine of “Legitimate Expectation”, something he never pleaded at the Court of Appeal, doubtlessly in hopes of either hoodwinking or, indeed, intimidating the Supreme Court into annulling a legitimate election he clearly lost.
Of course, it does not matter to the Cameroonian indigene of Dubai that Nigeria would thus be washing 350 billion naira down the drain, not to talk of seeing the government compelled to then cough out another 350 billion naira, if not much more (adding up to a total of 700 billion naira or more), to conduct a fresh election!
Atiku’s addiction is his ambition, an affliction powered by the maniacal obsession that, by hook or crook, the infernal prophecies of his marabouts must come to fruition!
Assuming Atiku were even to somehow miraculously cross the Herculean hurdle of getting the Supreme Court to countenance this most shamelessly brazen afterthought, unfortunately for him, the doctrine of “Legitimate Expectation” only avails where a public authority, having rescinded from a representation made to a person, thereby, causes injury to that person.
Ironically, this will only bring the former Vice President back to square one, indeed to the exact same spot wherein which he ended up marooned at the Court of Appeal.
In short, the Waziri Adamawa and, according to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, regular consumer of ‘spiritual work’, would find himself back to the problem of showing how the failure of INEC to upload the election results in real time altered the result of the election, indeed in such manner and to such extent that he was thereby injured, and in so clear a way and to so ascertainable a degree as to warrant the cancellation of the election!
Simply put, and in case his lawyers did not tell him, what Atiku must prove is how INEC’s failure to upload results in real time materially altered the outcome of the election, indeed, with such gravity as to render the entire presidential poll liable to be annulled.
This is quite apart from his having to convince the court that it is upon the non-upload of results that he ended up being announced as having lost an election he had actually won at the polling booth.
Indeed, whatever else he has to say, if he cannot prove both, his purported legitimate expectation is rendered pitiably academic, therefore pathetically illegitimate.
Instructively, the miserable failure of Atiku, as well as of Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, to demonstrate even the most vestigial nexus between the non-upload of results and an actual injury done to them is what framed their highly embarrassing losses at the Court of Appeal.
Thus, and rather quite ironically so, there is absolutely nothing even remotely new about this latest ground of appeal.
On the contrary, and without formally pleading it, “Legitimate Expectation” was actually and always the major plank of both Atiku’s and Obi’s laughable cases before the Court of Appeal!
Indeed, it framed their entire narrative of what they claim is wrong with the election and, over and above their similarly comical preoccupation with nonsensicalities like “forfeiture” and “double nomination”, their main stance was consistently that INEC had “misled” them into expectation that the election results would be uploaded to its IREV portal in real time.
How they might now expect a different outcome at the Supreme Court with respect to what they had tiresomely and rather quite childishly canvassed before the Court of Appeal is a question only they can answer.
While the inclusion of this supposedly new ground in Atiku’s appeal to the apex court is just the latest instalment in his desperation to be President of a country that clearly wants nothing to do with him, it quite unfortunately also signposts the preparedness of his counsel to continue in the shamefulness with which they tried his case before the Court of Appeal, even as was exhaustively pointed out by that court.
Onokpasa, a lawyer, was a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Presidential Campaign Council, and writes from Abuja.