annulled June 12 election

Retired Justice Dahiru Saleh, the former Chief Judge of the Federal High Court who pronounced the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, has absolved former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) of blame in the controversial decision.
Speaking to The Interview magazine, Saleh declared that IBB did not direct him to annul the election but it was his own decision, adding that he had no regrets cancelling the election and would repeat the judgement were it brought to him again.
“The former president did nothing of the sort,” Saleh declared, when asked if IBB forced the judgement on him.
“There were so many cases and I cannot remember all the cases off-hand. There was the case against MKO Abiola and it was before one of my judges; she was Igbo but I can’t remember her name. She started the case, then fell sick and was flown out of the country for treatment.
“Then there was another case against him (Abiola) and I had to transfer the case from the other judge’s court to my court. During that time it turned that Abiola didn’t even finish the case before he disappeared. Later, I learnt he had been arrested by authorities.
“If Abiola wasn’t happy with the case, he could have appealed it to the Court of Appeal, to the Supreme Court.
“The judicial system was still open but he chose not to follow it. Why no one followed up the annulment of the election in the higher courts is best known to members of Abiola’s party at that time.
“If he as an individual was not interested, there must have been other people who would be interested to see the end of the story, but they didn’t appeal.
“They were very close (referring to Abiola and IBB) and there were so many assumptions regarding the relationship between the two of them.
“But the point is in those days the Yorubas wanted Abiola to become president; he was seen as a kind and considerate man to every Tom, Dick and Harry.
“Unfortunately, he wanted to be the president but he couldn’t be. While the political blame must be on President Babangida, he (Babangida) did nothing of the sort to stop him, using my court.
“I was already chief judge when he was president. He came and met me there and he left me there. But while he was in office, we had no personal relationship. He was my boss; I was his subject.
“Anybody not satisfied with what I was doing as chief judge could appeal to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court, simple.
“And I have no regrets, none whatever. No regrets. I would repeat the same thing now.”
The 1993 presidential election, adjudged to be one of the most credible polls in the country’s history, saw MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party defeating Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention, although the final result was not declared as the election was annulled.

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