In letters addressed to the Ambassadors of France, Germany, European Union (E.U.), United States (U.S.). and the United Kingdom (UK), the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, accused incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari of threatening Nigeria’s democracy and serially breaching provisions of the constitution.
Backstory: Dated January 29, 2018, Atiku’s letter stated that he wrote specifically to the aforementioned leaders because of the roles their countries play as champions of democracy and the rule of law, as well as Nigeria’s international development partners working to deepen and strengthen democracy in Nigeria.
Atiku said: “President Muhammadu Buhari is threatening our democracy by serially breaching the provisions of our constitution and undermining organs and institutions of State in order to advance his personal interest.”
He asked the ambassadors to “pile pressure” on the Federal Government to desist from violations of the constitution and ensure a level playing field for the General Elections. Some of the alleged “constitutional infractions” listed by Atiku include:
1. The Purported Suspension of CJN Onnoghen
“This action of President Muhammadu Buhari, not only breaches the Nigerian Constitution but has also managed to undermine Presidential democracy by assaulting one of its hallowed doctrines of separation of Powers,” Atiku said. “To attempt to muscle out the Chief Justice of Nigeria using phony charges at a time when His Lordship was primed to play a central role in the fast-approaching nationwide electoral process represents the boldest steps in the march to undermine our democracy.”
2. The illegal purchase of the Tucano Aircrafts:
Atiku alleged that “President Buhari, sometime in April 2018, approved the purchase of Tucano Aircrafts for the Nigerian Military at the sum of $496 million (Four Hundred and Ninety-Six Million United States Dollars). This, he did, without seeking prior approval of the National Assembly” contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
3. Disregard for Orders of Courts:
“The Muhammadu Buhari administration has serially violated court orders, going against the rule of law,” Atiku said. He cited the examples of Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, for whom various courts have granted bail “on at least six different occasions” with each disregarded by Buhari; and Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, Leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria “who has been in detention without trial for over 3years after his followers were massacred in broad daylight; his wife and family killed and his home burnt, in a gory and shameful show of brute force by the Nigerian Army. This particular state violence is nothing short of genocide.”
4. The approval of $1 billion for military expenditure before approaching the National Assembly:
“The Nigerian government through the National Economic Council (NEC) again in contravention of Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), granted approval for the release of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the procurement of military hardware and other equipment to fight insecurity in the country, ahead of the 2019 General Elections without recourse to the National Assembly,” he said.
5. Executive Order No. 006 (On Preservation of Suspicious Assets and Related Schedules):
Atiku said that the enactment of Executive Order No. 006, an Executive legislation that permits security agencies to freeze the assets of persons standing trial or undergoing investigation, “is an usurpation of legislative and judicial powers of the National Assembly and the judiciary as enshrined respectively under sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and reminiscent of the military era of decrees.”
Atiku urged the ambassadors “to partner with Nigerians to defend our constitution and play an active role in building our country.”
“The choices facing all of us is either to stand aside and watch Nigerians reelect a President who has been in constant violation of the laws of the land without remorse or to support them show him the way out and elect a true democrat,” he said.