THE February 25 presidential election results saw the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the nation’s president.
However, the results were immediately met with scepticism and allegations of irregularities, which eventually led aggrieved parties to the Presidential Election Tribunal (PEPT) in a bid to investigate and rule on the legitimacy of the results.
The APC have maintained their stance that the election was free and fair and that the victory of Tinubu is legitimate. The Labour Party (LP) Peter Obi and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Abubakar Atiku have expressed their doubts regarding the election’s transparency and have since sought redress through the tribunal.
Obi, refused to yield, insisting he won and vowing to reclaim his ‘mandate’. So also Atiku who rejected the results.
The months that followed the election saw a flurry of legal activities, claims, and counterclaims, which were filed on March 21, 2023. The Labour Party and the PDP approached the tribunal with their reservations about the results and requested a thorough scrutiny.
Amidst the ongoing tribunal activities, surmounted with anxiety and expectations, an online campaign which also done offline titled “All Eyes on the Judiciary” gained momentum.The slogan resonated with many citizens who believed that the judiciary’s decision in this matter would be a testament to the nation’s democratic principles.
The hashtag #AllEyesOnTheJudicairy and its different variations – All Eyes on election tribunal judges, All eyes on judiciary etc – gained momentum when the PEPT were concluding the hearing and also when it announced it would be giving the final verdict in the coming days of September.
In support of this movement is former minister Obiageli Ezekwesili, In a tweet said “I absolutely have my eyes on the Nigerian Judiciary and delighted to see many other citizens do too.
“#AllEyesOnTheJudiciary is one of the best things that has happened to our Judiciary, the 3rd Arm of Government, in recent times.
“The Judiciary has a Message from Citizens, who understand the importance of their country joining the league of countries that have through uncompromising adherence to Democratic Processes, built lasting institutions required for Development.”
While the campaign was going online, people were AllEyesOnTheJudiciary erecting billboards across Nigeria. This did not go well in some quarters.
There were reports that the government was clamping down on the campaign. Advertising Standard Panel (ASP) was dissolved for approving the trending ‘All Eyes on The Judiciary’ billboards.
These billboards, titled “All Eyes on The Judiciary,” allegedly breached the ASP’s ethical guidelines” Olalekan Fadolapo, the head of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) stated in the statement disbanding ASP.
The statement noted that “The Advertising Standards Panel of the Council also erred in the approval of one of the concepts as the advertisement failed to vet guidelines on the following grounds.
“The advertisement is controversial and capable of instigating public unrest and breach of public peace.”
Furthermore, “The advertisement is considered blackmail against the Nigerian Judiciary, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, and particularly the Honourable Justices of the Tribunal who are expected to discharge their judicial functions without fear or favour over a matter that is currently jus pendis.”
ARCON also ordered the destruction of several billboards across the country with the slogan.
A Twitter – now X – user , Oladiran Alabi, agreed with ARCON and tweeted “It is nothing but pure intimidation, harassment and an attempt to stampede the judiciary.”
He added, “The judiciary cannot be blackmailed, they are men and women of integrity who will dispense justice based on fact and evidence before them.”
On their part, Intercontinental Marketing & Communication Consortium Limited – the agency that ran the campaign on behalf of their clients said they followed all the processes and got approvals before they went ahead with it.
However, more recently, the agency apologised to ARCON “We sincerely apologise for this and state that our action was not intentional,” the Managing Director, Stephen Ogboko said.
“The truth is that immediately after we received the brief for the said campaign, we sent the artwork to Mr Markus Inji Lukman, an ARCON liaison officer who has helped us vet campaign materials in the past,” he added.
However, ARCON insists that despite the apology the company will face disciplinary action the Punch reports.
ARCON boss Fodolapo also stated that president Tinubu did not order them to clampdown on the campaign.