In anticipation of today’s impending judgment by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, a significant increase in security measures has been implemented within and around Abuja’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This heightened security presence is in preparation for the PEPT’s verdict on the petitions filed by several disgruntled presidential candidates.
Among these candidates are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), who, along with others, have contested the declaration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the victor of the 2023 presidential election. President Tinubu secured 8.8 million votes, Atiku received 6.9 million, and Obi garnered 6.1 million.
After an extended period of legal battles, the PEPT is poised to deliver its judgment, an event that has generated significant tension, particularly within and around the FCT. Also Read: https://legalattorneyblog.com/2023/09/11/just-in-tribunal-to-deliver-judgement-on-atiku-obis-petitions-against-tinubu-sept-6/
The PEPT, chaired by Justice Haruna Tsammani, includes Justice Stephen Adah (Court of Appeal Asaba Division), Justice Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf (Court of Appeal Asaba Division), Justices Moses Ugo (Court of Appeal Kano Division), and Abba Mohammed of the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal as members.
In the lead-up to the judgment, the Department of State Services (DSS) has raised concerns about an alleged plan by certain unnamed politicians to incite violence and discredit the federal government and security agencies. Similarly, the Defense Headquarters and the Nigeria Police Force have warned troublemakers, cautioning them to refrain from disruptive actions or face the full consequences of the law.
Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Judgment
Military checkpoints such as Zuba, Nyanya, Gwagwalada, and Bwari have been reinstated in response to these developments at key entry points into Abuja. Previously, traffic flow along the Mararaba-Nyanya route had been smooth without military checkpoints. However, it has been observed that these checkpoints were re-established in the early hours of Tuesday, leading to vehicle inspections by military personnel.
Soldiers from the Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army have been stationed at the Nyanya checkpoint to oversee security. Eyewitnesses reported road closures after the Karu Bridge and before Kugbo, causing traffic gridlock extending to Mararaba in the Karu local government area of Nasarawa state. Motorists on the Abuja-Keffi expressway also experienced delays due to stop-and-search operations conducted by military officers, who restricted vehicular movement to a single lane.
The disruption has affected civil servants and traders who commute from places like Nyanya, Karu, Mararaba, and Masaka to work in Abuja. However, private organizations like hotels, supermarkets, and personal security firms operating in shifts faced significant challenges due to the traffic delays.
Amidst concerns of possible protests in response to the PEPT’s judgment, some business owners in the Central Area of the FCT opted to close their offices and shops earlier than usual. At the time of this report, the city appeared relatively calm, with no substantial deployment of security forces. Read More: https://legalattorneyblog.com/2023/08/15/election-tribunal-all-eyes-on-the-judiciary-the-story-so-far/
Chukwuemeka Alex, a businessman in the Central Area, called upon the government to enhance security measures in Abuja to prevent potential lawlessness following the judgment. He expressed concerns about protests and their impact on businesses in the FCT.
An anonymous civil servant disclosed knowledge of a planned protest by the ‘Obidient Movement,’ a group loyal to the LP candidate, in the event of an unfavourable judgment. This revelation has prompted some individuals to avoid the city centre and monitor developments from afar.
Increased Security Measures in Abuja
Several residents emphasized the importance of accepting the election results, moving forward, and maintaining peace and stability in the country. They urged those dissatisfied with the verdict to seek redress through legal and peaceful means rather than resorting to protests.
Mr Obiora Ifoh, the LP National Publicity Secretary, stated that while he was unaware of any impending protest, individuals dissatisfied with the judgment had the right to protest.
To influence the judgment in their favour, Christian faithful members of the PDP engaged in a seven-day prayer session, concluding it on Tuesday. The prayer session occurred at the PDP’s national chapel within the party’s national secretariat. Former Adamawa state governor, Mr Boni Haruna, led the session, citing scriptures to seek divine intervention and expressing hope that God would restore the party’s ‘stolen mandate.’
PEPT’s Decision and Presidential Contenders’ Complaints
The Nigeria Police Force has confirmed the deployment of additional officers to prevent potential disruptions from the tribunal’s judgment. They emphasized their commitment to maintaining law and order while respecting citizens’ rights.
The police also cautioned against actions or statements that could incite violence and urged all citizens, regardless of political affiliations, to promote peace during this critical period.
Together, these measures aim to ensure a peaceful and secure environment as the nation awaits the outcome of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s judgment.
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