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2023 polls: A real test for Nigeria’s judiciary

 

‘Let the judiciary prove its independence with the election case now before it. A stitch in time saves nine’

 

By Valentine Amanze

(11-3-2023)

 

The global attention has been shifted to the Nigerian judiciary over the result of the February 25, 2023 presidential election, which is now before the law court.

Prior to that, the rating of the once vibrant and highly respected independent arm of the government had been steadily nosediving.

Reasons: The alarming cases of controvertial and unpopular decisions, which were churned out by the nation’s judiciary.

Examples abound. One would not forget the Supreme Court judgement that brought Senator Hope Uzodimma to power as the Imo State governor three and a half years ago.

Hon Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was earlier declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but lost his mandate to Uzodimma at the Supreme Court six months later

via an unpopular judgement, described as technical.

The result of the judgement is the ongoing chaos and killings in Imo State.

Again, in Akwa Ibom and Yobe states, chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who never participated in the party’s primary elections, later grabbed their Senatorial tickets at the Supreme Court.

Also read: Buhari’s parting gift

The court, the last hope of the common man, is gradually being hijacked by the highest bidder.

The unpopular decisions appear to be influenced by the government in power, which decided the judgement to obey or otherwise.

But the judges are Nigerians, who know the feelings of the citizens. They are not living in a different planet; they are here with us; reading newspapers, listening to radio, buy from the market, have children and friends.

I will not writeoff the entire judiciary; in every 12, there is a Judas.

There are still few judicial officers, who would sacrifice their lives to ensure justice prevails. Such judges examine cases on there merit, while some without conscience morthgage their future. What an irony!

A politician friend of mine once told me that going to court was part of electoral process; but getting justice was a different thing. However, he lost several of his court cases before he succeeded.

No doubt, the Labour Party (LP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are in the law court challenging the result and the perceived irregularities noticed in the presidential election conducted by the INEC on the February 25, 2023, the body language of the INEC signifies a decision already made by the presidency to trunket the exercise.

The plea of the Peter Obi-led Labour Party (LP) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakae of the PDP was equally backed by the European Union (EU) and other international observers, who to condemned the electoral fraud.

They are seeking justice because the

circumstances surrounding the announcement of the result of the February 25, 2023 presidential election were not convincing. In fact they felt the “voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau”.

Why did the INEC boss, Prof M. Yakubu, continue announcing the “doctored results after admitting the blunder caused by his commission?

After the federal government’s injection of not less than N350 billion in the exercise the INEC chairman appeared acting a script already written from “above.”

I am not being judgemental; but the issue is now before the law court.

 

I feel the court will also examine the electoral law very well especially where it involves when to stop campaigning. It may also examine whether it is right for one to cast his vote and display it to the public.

I am interested in a judicial reform that will herald a strong and just institution.

It will be dangerous for the presidency to influence the case in court.

Already, INEC is disobeying the court by allegedly ignoring order to allow the opposition examine the election materials.

The future of the country must not be sacrified on the altar of personal ambition.

Nigerians have suffered hardship never seen befor in the last eight years; and came out en masse to choose their leader and someone is trying to deny them that.

The attitude of the current leadership in Nigeria is unfortunate.

How far the judiciary fairs in the current administration will determine its independence.

Though the Buhari administration appears not obeying court judgements, the

judiciary has no other choice than give majority of Nigerians what they want. It must think about the unity, posterity, and our children before selfish individuals would want to inflame the country.

It is disturbing that President Muhammadu Buhari, who appended his signature on the electoral reform, is keeping mute, while the country rages. Let the judiciary prove its independence with the election case now before it. A stitch in time saves nine. The world is watching.

 

valoa2000@yahoo.com

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