Still On The Supreme Court Judgments | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Still On The Supreme Court Judgments

Posted: Mar 16, 2016 at 1:53 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Goodluck Edafe, Delta

THE Supreme Court judgments on the governorship petitions of Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers and Delta States have come and gone, but the memory and implications have continued to reverberate. Since the judgments, the Supreme Court has come under severe criticism and allegation of corruption. Its critics say it is judgment without a sense of justice and protection of common good. But Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and member of the Supreme Court, Justice Mahmud Mohammed has fired back. He says, “Critics are ignorant of the law”. He insisted that “those calling the judiciary officers corrupt are being inconsiderate and ignorant of how the judiciary operates”. If we are disingenuous and ignorant of the law, same cannot be true of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Professor of Law, Prof Itse Sagay who remained unequivocal in voicing his feeling on the seemingly boring judgments of the Supreme Court that have attracted the ire of many. Utterly miffed by the judgments, Sagay said, “The judgments are very perverse…” He maintained that “what the Supreme Court has done is to set the clock of electoral excellence and fairness and credibility back… a thousand years”.

The Supreme Court is supreme but obviously, its recent judgments left many questions unanswered. Rationalizing the transfer of the Rivers state election tribunal to Abuja, the Supreme Court ruled that the tribunal could sit in Abuja because of the level of violence in the state. Paradoxically, the same Supreme Court later ruled that the petitioner, APC candidate was unable to prove his allegation of violence and how it affected the result of the governorship election as a ground to nullify the election. The puzzle is: If violence in the state could affect or deter a tribunal from sitting, could it have affected the conduct of elections in the state? Same premise different judgments. But there are other reasons the Supreme Court judgment will continue to offend good conscience. Millions of Nigerians were disenfranchised during the 2015 general elections because they do not have PVC – Permanent Voter Card. Now that Card Reader, according to the Supreme Court has no legal validity to substantially determine election winners,

Jega introduced Card Reader into our electoral system at a time politicians especially in the South-South were turning our elections into a battlefield for gun duel.  They would rig election in a most reckless and bizarre manner and will openly boast to the opposition to go to court. We are all witnesses. So the people embraced Card Reader as part of a curative measure to curb the ranging political madness in the land. The judgments, for sure, represent new openings for politicians to devise new onslaught in the years ahead. For me, the pain is not whether or not the judgments favour or against a particular candidate but its deliberate failure to align the laws with realities viz-a-viz the sustenance of INEC little achievements instead of a wholesale allusion to technical knockouts.

But apart from the orientation of our judges, I have reasons to believe that our laws are fraudulent in origin. They are tailored not at promoting social engineering but towards securing narrow political interest. They want poor and unprotected Nigerians to bring evidence of election rigging and corruption against politicians who are not only secured by dozens of policemen but are heavily devoted to all varieties of crime. Because poor Nigerians do not have proof against anyone, the conclusion is that no one is corrupt in our country.  Hypocrisy is our common religion. It increases daily in patronage. We worship it with grandstanding and plain face. We need the right sets of laws. Like China and Saudi-Arabia, we need laws that specify certain draconian actions against offenders of state morality – election riggers, conspirators in INEC, corrupt judges, etc. But, apart from having good laws, our lawyers and judges need to manifest good conscience in the administration of justice. In a country where the apex court could boast about law and not about justice and morality is a nation in serious judicial crisis. The ongoing effort to attain national sanity must be holistic. Crime in any form must not be allowed to prosper. Lawyers and judges must not see themselves as above the law. What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.