The immediate past Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to probe a claim that he and some All Progressives Congress (APC) lawyers are drafting the judgment for the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is also seeking an investigation of further allegations that he not only supervised the rigging of the 2023 Presidential election in favour of President Bola Tinubu, but that he also wrote the judgment for Judges in the 2019 election tribunal that sealed Mohammadu Buhari Presidential election victory.
He requested the Police chief “to cause the publications to be investigated with utmost urgency and seriousness” noting that they have implications not only for his person but also for the “independence, impartiality, and integrity” of the judiciary.
He reasoned that the publications could be part of a wider campaign to undermine the judiciary “by those who seek to manipulate the judicial institution for their own gain.”
Fashola made the request in an August 7 letter written on his behalf by his Abuja-based counsel Olanrewaju Akinsola of Priory Terrace Solicitors.
The former Lagos State Governor attributed the primary sources of the allegations to social media posts by one Jackson Ude and Reportera.ng.
Fashola had, in a statement on August 7, vehemently denied the allegations describing them as “baseless”, and “defamatory” and condemned the individuals behind them, referring to them as agents of destabilization.
In the letter to the IGP, Mr. Akinsola said: “The attention of our Client has been drawn to a tweet published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023 on microblogging site, X [formerly known as Twitter] by one Jackson Ude tweeting under the handle of @jacksonpbn with the headline.) EXPOSED: FASHOLA IS WRITING PEPT JUDGEMENT FOR JUDGES.
“The said Jackson Ude went on to publish and state that: ‘Former Lagos Governor and former Minister for Works, Babatunde Fashola and some APC lawyers are allegedly writing the judgment Bola Tinubu and APC intend to hand over to the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, PEPT, to adopt.
‘Fashola who is alleged to have supervised the rigging of the 2023 Presidential election in favour of Tinubu, was also alleged to have written the judgment for Judges in the 2019 election Tribunal that sealed Mohammadu Buhari Presidential election victory.
‘The former Lagos Governor has remained quiet since after the elections but has been keeping close tabs with Judges handling the Presidential elections petition.
‘The Election Tribunal has adopted all final addresses but has yet to announce a date for judgment. Fashola, according to informants, is working day and night to conclude his proposed judgment and band over ta the PEPT Judges.
‘The judges aside monetary compensations have been promised elevation to the Supreme Court should they accept Fashola’s version.’”
Akinsola noted that the publication was accompanied by Fashola’s portrait and that of the Presiding Justice of the Presidential Election Petition Court, Justice Haruna S. Tsammani, who is an Appeal Court judge.
He said since Ude’s publication of the tweet via his Twitter handle, it has “generated more than 120,000 views. The tweet has been retweeted 1,437 times, it has been liked 1,325 times, it has been quoted 186 times, and it has been bookmarked 49 times as of 8.30pm on Sunday, 6 August 2023.
“The same false allegation was also published on the microblogging site, X, with our Client’s picture juxtaposed with that of His Lordship Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani JCA by one ‘NotqueenRahmahSadav’ with Twitter handle @yorubasheikh on Wednesday 2 August 2023 at 10.28pm.
“The tweet has generated more than 157,000 views, and has been retweeted 2, 573 umes. It has been liked 2, 720 times, and it has been quoted 103 times, as well as been bookmarked 30 times as of 8.30pm on Sunday, 6 August 2023.”
He also referenced the publication “of false allegation” by Reportera.ng with the handle @ReporteraNews on Saturday, 5 August 2023 at 5.58PM on the same X microblogging site to the effect that:
“BREAKING: Nigerian Army take siege of Fasbola’s Abuja residence, restrict movement to and fro the former Minister of Works and Housing premises.
“Amidst the scare of possible miscarriage of justice at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) and with Fashola’s rumoured involvement in drafting @ controversial verdict to throw out the cases of the opposition parties LP and PDP, the Nigerian Army has barricaded the Abuja residence of Babatunde Fashola, the immediate past Minister of Works and Housing and a Tinubu stooge and close confidant.
‘It is believed that the former Minister would need extra protection at this time as the reports making headlines have been outrightly and vehemently rejected by Nigerians if at all there’s any truth to the allegation, and could start an uprising targeted at the former Lagos Governor.”
The tweet, Akinsola noted, has been retweeted 2,504 times and quoted 269 times. The tweet has also been liked 4, 134 times and has been bookmarked 127 times as of 8.30pm on Sunday, 6 August 2023.
He added: “It is the position of our Client that the publications by the said Jackson Ude, @yorubasheik, and @ReporteraNew are false in their entirety and have excessively breached the decent fundamentals of public enlightenment that freedom of the press is constitutionally about.
“It is our Chent’s position that the totality of the three publications amount to nothing less than character assassination with a calculated view to achieving damaging effects against him in his profession as a legal practitioner who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a former Governor of Lagos State, and in his private life as a citizen of Nigeria.
“It is also our Client’s position that by the publications wherein his name and pictures were deployed, the trio of Jackson Ude, @yorubasheik, and @ReporteraNew portrayed our Client and referred to him as:
“i, A corrupt legal practitioner who rigs elections and compromises electoral processes;
“ii. A dirty politician who corrupts the Judiciary and influences the outcome of judicial proceedings; and “i, A disgrace of a lawyer who is not worthy of the office and rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, amongst other negative imputations.
“It is the position of our Client that these orchestrated allegations coming at this critical time could be part of a wider campaign to undermine the judiciary by those who seek to manipulate the judicial institution for their own gain.”
He said having regard to the importance of judicial independence in general and the sensitivity of the judicial proceeding of the PEPT in particular, “It is the position of our Client that the publications by the said Jackson Ude, @yorubasheik, and @ReporteraNew are false and made to cause inconvenience, danger, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred and needless anxiety to our Client.”
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