The European Union Election Observation Mission says the Supreme Court has maintained a poor public perception after reinstating former Senate President Ahmad Lawan to the upper legislative chamber despite not participating in the APC parliamentary primaries.
The EU stated this in its final report, ‘Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2023,’ released last week.
“The Nigerian Supreme Court continues to maintain a negative perception after reinstating Senator Ahmed Lawan, who never participated in primaries for the Senate. The high court and appeal court judgments were against this.”
The apex court saved Mr Lawan’s senatorial ambition following a bitter battle with his political ally Bashir Machina. The latter had refused to hand over the APC ticket for Yobe North senatorial district. Mr Lawan had sought the presidential ticket of the ruling party. But when then-presidential aspirant Bola Tinubu defeated him, he tried to return to his district to claim its senatorial ticket.
In a twist of the event, Mr Machina, who had won the Yobe North senatorial ticket, said he would not surrender it under any circumstances.
The APC tried to muscle out Mr Machina in favour of Mr Lawan by asking the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to adopt the ex-Senate president as its senatorial candidate for Yobe North in 2023.
By February 6, 2023, Mr Lawan had the last laugh in a controversial ruling pronounced by the Supreme Court regarded as being compromised.
During the Senate valedictory session, Rochas Okorocha had mocked Mr Lawan on the circumstances surrounding his return to the Senate without duly participating in APC’s senatorial primary.
“I did not contest for the Senate this period. I only contested for the office of the president. You are a very smart politician. How you came back to the Senate is another chapter in our political history that we need to discuss,” said Mr Okorocha.
Further mocking the controversial return of Mr Lawan to the Senate, Mr Okorocha stressed, “I was there in the field with you running for president. I never knew how you were able to meander, leaving some of us. Next time you must teach me how to do that.”