Ajulo cautions against derogatory comments on judges sitting at PEPT

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By Femi Ogunshola

A constitutional lawyer and right activist, Dr Kayode Ajulo has cautioned some Nigerians against making derogatory comments on judges sitting at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).

He said such comments were troubling and uncalled for.

Ajulo said this in a message in Abuja on Tuesday which he titled:  “Navigating Democracy: Unraveling the Nigerian PEPT and Public Perceptions”.

He said: “Particularly alarming trend is the growing disrespect for the judiciary, characterised by absurd conspiracy theories, slanderous remarks, and baseless allegations often targeting the Honourable Justices.”

He said such trend thrived due to historical perceptions of partiality, polarisation, and the rapid spread of misinformation via social media.

Ajulo said that regrettably, there had been a growing trend of public disregard for both the ongoing tribunal and the broader Nigerian judiciary.

According to him, one malignant trend I have noticed, which is slowly becoming the norm, is the utter disregard and disrespect of the judiciary by Nigerian citizens.

He said this is characterised by ludicrous conspiracy theories, slanderous statements and false accusations, which were majorly targeted at the justices.

Ajulo said such trend was fueled by various factors, including historical instances of perceived judicial partiality, political polarisation, and the amplification of false information through social media.

He said it was imperative to recognise that a healthy democracy relied on the judiciary’s independence and credibility, making it crucial to address and counteract such negative sentiments.

The legal practitioner said the proliferation of misinformation often eroded public trust in the judiciary and undermined the fundamental tenets of democracy.

“In less than 24 hours, I have come across two separate posts on social media which are perfect examples of the negative sentiments in question.

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“In the first post, the writer accused a former governor and minister of writing the judgment of the presidential election tribunal, which is yet to be announced.

“In the second post, which was a video, a pastor displayed the pictures of the presiding Justices, and asked his congregation to make certain declarations and ‘lay hands on the Justices’.

“In addition to these, I have also come across several comments castigating and berating the Justices, whilst accusing them of partiality and questionable practices,” he said.

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According  to him, what is most upsetting about these accusations is the fact that the Justices in question, by virtue of their calling, the ethics guiding this prestigious profession, and the nature and sensitivity of their offices are not afforded the luxury of addressing these false claims.

He said the plight of the presiding Justices, and the judiciary was a sad one which forced him to act as a voice to an institution unable to defend itself from such onslaught.

“After going through a number of these posts, articles and videos, I have come to the conclusion that these attacks are premeditated and can be traced to have originated from some particular groups and political affiliations.”

He said the Nigerian PEPT remained the canvas capturing Nigeria’s democratic essence, principles, and sentiments.

He added that the Justices presiding over it remained the guardians of justice, entrusted with the monumental task of upholding democracy’s core values. (NAN)

Edited by Edith Bolokor/Chioma Ugboma

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