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Nigerian Judiciary Reinvented as the Ultimate Rigging Machine

By: Franklin Otorofani, Esq
Published December 9th, 2010


Here then is the critical issue in this matter: Was the documented personal relationship existing between the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, and the ACN chieftain, Chief Bola Tinubu, not enough to disqualify him outright from touching that case in the first place? Would it surprise anyone, therefore, that the judgment had been leaked to ACN weeks before it was delivered by Salami hence the public outcry by ACN about alleged attempts by the PDP to “arrest” it and the elaborate preparations made by the party to celebrate its contrived victory? These are questions still hanging in the air that the NJC has been called upon to unravel as in the previous two cases cited above as well as the case of Sokoto state that would have gone the way of Ekiti in the hands of the same Justice Salami, but for the timely intervention of the Supreme Cour—Franklin Otorofani


Scenario One:

The tiny West African nation of Ivory Coast held her presidential elections back in October this year that ended in a stalemate with no clear cut winner. A rerun was held between the two front runners, Alassane Quattara and current President Laurant Gbago. When results were announced on Thursday, December 1, 2010, by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, the opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, had scored 54.1% of the votes to President Laurent Gbago, who scored 51.45% of the votes. Consequently, Quattara the challenger, was announced by the electoral commission as the winner of the presidential elections by a wide margin. However, on Friday, December 3, 2010, the Constitutional Council overturned the results already announced and declared Gbago the winner after annulling the results of seven regions in the northern parts of the country, which incidentally are the strongholds of Quattara. The annulment was designed to and did effectively reduce his votes to 48.55%, thereby making Gbago, the erstwhile loser, become the clear winner with 51.45% of the votes. That is what pen robbery does to elections in Africa. Smooth rigging!

Scenario Two:

The tiny South/West state of Ekiti, Nigeria, held its gubernatorial election on 04/14/2007 in the country’s general elections of that year. When the results were announced by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Segun Oni of the PDP was declared winner and sworn in as Governor of Ekiti State. But the opposition candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, of the AC (now ACN) faulted the results and headed to the Tribunal, which ordered a rerun in several local government areas of the state to determine the real winner. In the rerun election held on 04/25/2009, Governor Oni scored 109,000 of the votes to his opponent’s106, 000 votes. Oni was again declared the winner, whereupon the opposition candidate filed a petition at the tribunal challenging the results in six wards in Idi-Osi Local Government Area, which incidentally are the strongholds of Governor Oni. Again the Tribunal found for Oni. Dissatisfied, however, the opposition candidate headed to the Appeal Tribunal, which yet again found for Oni. Still dissatisfied, the opposition candidate filed further appeal at the Court of Appeal, which is the final Appeal Tribunal for gubernatorial elections in Nigeria. On 10/15/2010, the Court of Appeal overturned the results of the two previous elections and the two previous rulings at the Tribunals and declared Fayemi the winner after annulling the results in Idi-Osi Local Government Area and deducting same from the total vote count to return Fayemi as the winner. Here again is what pen robbery does to elections in Africa. Smooth rigging!

Similarities:

(1) In each case a rerun was held and a winner was duly declared by the electoral agency duly authorized by law to conduct the elections and return winners.

(2) In each case the results were overturned by an external body other than the electoral agency.

(3) In each case the results of the elections were annulled in the strongholds of the winner and then subtracted from the total count in order to declare the loser as the winner, and;

(4) In each case the will of the people as expressed in the elections was rudely and blatantly substituted with the will of an external authority to make the loser become the winner. It is election rigging at its best.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new face of rigging in Nigeria, nay Africa— developed, perfected, packaged and exported from Nigeria! This is a Made-in-Nigeria electoral product that she has managed to export to Ivory Coast. It is well known fact that Nigeria has been exporting corruption to other African nations and the world at large in addition to her crude oil.  

I don’t care who the beneficiaries are; whether it’s Governor Oni or Oyinlola at the Tribunals or Fayemi or Aregbesola at the Court of Appeal. It makes no difference to me. Both the lower tribunals that gave judgments to the incumbents and the higher tribunal that gave judgments to their challengers are in the same boat of corruption using their positions to rubbish democracy by supplanting the will of the people and imposing their own in its place. Disturbingly, democracy has indeed entered yet another rough terrain in Nigeria—election rigging through the judiciary.

This is the new generation rigging formula invented by the Nigerian judiciary to replace the old generation formula introduced by INEC that seemed to have outlived its usefulness in this digital era. The Nigerian judiciary has invented a modernized version to keep up with the times.

It is neat and precise. Like the surgeon’s knife, it cuts through the body of the election results right where it wants it neatly with no blood stains. It has nothing to do with stuffing of ballot boxes, arson, over-voting, violence and intimidation of voters or any of the other electoral malpractices associated with elections at the polling stations. That is old school. Judges simply nix the results in the strongholds of the winners and pronto, the winner is suddenly transformed into the loser and the loser becomes the winner!

This is the Nigerian judicial abracadabra that has found its way to Ivory Coast, threatening to tear that war-torn nation further apart. Ivory Coast might be its first port of call, but by no means the last. Where else will it strike next in Africa? African nations preparing for elections must beware of this deadly cargo headed their way from Nigeria. And if in doubt, they should check with Ivory Coast to know just how deadly it is. No kidding!

The bottom line is that judgments delivered in election petitions in Nigeria are nothing but products of corruption, pure and simple—no but, what, if, when, or why. And like I said above, I don’t care who the winners or losers are because there are no real winners or losers at the end of the day except for the poor masses that have been reduced to canon fodders while the elites carry out their nefarious activities in their name behind their backs.

The courts have become cesspools of corruption and their judgments are not worth the papers on which they’re scribbled with the ink of corruption. And I’m not even the one saying it. Higher judicial and legal authorities in Nigeria who should and indeed know better than I do have come to the same unfortunate but inescapable conclusions. It is time to shoot straight.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu recently alerted the nation to corruption in the judiciary at the occasion of the swearing in ceremony of new judicial officers in Abuja. He sure knows what he was talking about because he is the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has been inundated with corruption petitions against serving judicial officers many of which are currently being investigated.

And former Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Kayode Eso, has equally decried corruption in the nation’s judiciary and in fact zeroed in on judges sitting in election petition tribunals, including the Court of Appeal, which is the ultimate Election Petition Tribunal in gubernatorial cases.

The erudite Justice described the corrupt profiles of some judges sitting in election tribunals as indeed “mind shattering” adding that they “are not just millionaires as we are told but billionaires”. Imagine Justices becoming billionaires overnight just by upholding rigged election results or upturning valid election results with a stroke of the pen. The electorate could go to blazes. What do the people know, anyway? That must count as one of, if not the most lucrative job(s) on earth. The beast of corruption has been unleashed on hapless Nigerians and their votes no longer have meaning.

One could imagine JAMB candidates cramming the exam halls to get into the legal profession in Nigeria and later fight to become election petition judges. In turn that would turn university admission officers into millionaires overnight just by admitting failed candidates through the back door and tossing out the door smart candidates who passed their matriculation exams. Why must it end with INEC and the judiciary? The invincible and unstoppable Nigeria Corruption Steamroller grinds on. Chikena! Nigeria is finished! 

And what is more: the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. J.B Daudu, SAN, has spoken in similar vein as indeed other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) in a special report compiled by Ikekuckwu Nnochiri of the Vanugard Newspaper 11/18/2010, appropriately titled: “Corruption in Nigerian judiciary: How safe is 2011 general elections?”  Said he, the NBA president:

“One indisputable fact about politicians is that they are prone to publicizing facts that others think were concluded in secret. Consequently, everybody hears about the bloated sums that have been given to judicial officers so that the desires of elective office seekers can be satisfied.”

Yes, they thought their corrupt acts carried out in secret would never be known publicly, but they forget that nothing is hidden under the sun. Somebody is watching somewhere and the evil deeds of men carried out in the dark of night are revealed in the day in broad daylight. And their very own conducts thereafter, as for example, the public outcry by AC chieftain that PDP was plotting to arrest the Court of Appeal Judgment, easily give them away as a bunch of crooks. Yes they give themselves away by their very own acts as when they began to make elaborate and involved preparations for celebrating their impending victory, weeks before judgment was delivered.

Only one who already knew what was coming would go so far as to design and print huge posters banners and plan party victory celebrations ahead of time, which was not the case in previous tribunal cases where AC lost. Why would Lai Mohammed fight to protect a judgment the contents of which had not been delivered and made public if it was not known to be favorable to his side? Were the judgment known afore-hand to be unfavorable to AC, the Court would have been viciously attacked by the AC chieftain who cried wolf, Lai Mohammed. As the Holy Book puts it, by their fruits we shall know them.

And to cap it all, Justices have actually been removed from office as a result of corruption in election tribunals. At this juncture, one could not help but reproduce late Chief Gani Fawehimni’s presentation cited in my earlier publication:

“Unfortunately, the downright dishonesty of some of the Judges who were involved in 2003 Election Tribunals gave the Nigerian people much worry. I will refer to two instances: The first was the Anambra South Senatorial Election Tribunal, which looked into the grievances of a contestant Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu against the election of Dr. Ugochukwu Uba. The Tribunal found for Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu against Dr. Ugochukwu Uba. Dr. Uba appealed to the Court of Appeal. Meanwhile, he had been sworn in as a Senator. The matter came before the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal of three Justices, Hon. Justice Okwuchukwu Opene, Hon. Justice David Adedoyin Adeniji and Hon. Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs disagreed among themselves.

Two of the Justices Hon. Justice Okwuchukwu Opene and Hon. Justice David Adedoyin Adeniji gave judgment to Dr. Ugochukwu Uba and the third Justice, Hon. Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs, the youngest of them disagreed and dissented and gave judgment to Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu. After the appeal, the National Judicial Council (NJC) received petitions that two of the three Justices took bribe. The National Judicial Council established under Section 153 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 set up a committee headed by late Justice Kolawole a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal. After a thorough investigation by the Committee it was found that Justice Okwuchukwu Opene who presided at the Court of Appeal took a bribe of N15,000,000.00 (Fifteen million Naira) and Justice David Adedoyin Adeniji took a bribe of N12,000,000.00 (Twelve million Naira) and three unascertained Ghana-must-Go bags and that Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs the youngest of them refused to take bribe. He rejected corruption and did the Judiciary proud.

Consequently, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that these two justices, Hon. Justice Okwuchukwu Opene and Hon. Justice David Adedoyin Adeniji were guilty of corruption and abuse of office and that they should be sacked as Justices of the Court of Appeal. On the 3rd of May, 2005, the President acting under Section 292 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, dismissed those two Justices from the Judicial Bench of Nigeria.

The Second instance was the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Tribunal set up after the 2003 Governorship Election. There were five members of the Tribunal. Whilst the proceedings were still pending in the Tribunal, on the 10th July, 2003 the petitioner petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria who is the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) complaining that four of the five members of the Tribunal i.e. the Chairman, Hon. Justice M. M. Adamu (a Lady), Hon. Justice D. T. Ahura, Hon. Justice A. M. Elelegwa and Chief Magistrate O. J. Isede had been compromised with large sums of money as bribe by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) investigated the complaints through a committee set up for that purpose and found that the allegations were true and that the Chairman of the Election Tribunal and three other members received bribes during the sitting. They were accordingly dismissed from the judicial Bench. One Judge who was not a member of the Tribunal, Hon. Justice C.P.N. Senlong of the Federal High Court was also dismissed for corruption and abuse of office because he was found to have associated with one of the contestants in a corrupt manner. These two examples of judicial corruption must not be allowed to happen or re-occur in the new Tribunals for the 2007 Elections”.

In the face of this endemic state of affairs in Nigeria that has assumed frightening dimensions, it becomes laughable, pathetic, disingenuous, hypocritical and indeed delusional for anyone to go to town applauding the judgment of the Court of the Appeal in both Ekiti and Osun states or any other case for that matter, because all of its judgments in election petitions are tainted with corruption. I’m, therefore, inclined to treat virtually all of the judgments delivered by the Court of Appeal in election petitions with a wave of the hand as products of corruption, my research in the Sokoto State case having thoroughly exposed me to the goings on in the Court of Appeal. It’s out and out sick judicial institution that is in need of redemption. 

Therefore, while it is perfectly understandable that ACN partisans would be rejoicing at their good luck and see these recent judgments as “godsent,” God might not have a hand in their “victories” because He is not a God of corruption and the Devil himself could be taking all the credit for the judgments they have procured from the Court of Salami rather than from the Court of Justice ruled by the blind goddess Artemis. The goddess ruling over Salami’s Court is not blind but wide eyed, demanding Ghana-Must Go. 

What then is there to rejoice over, anyway? It is corruption of the judiciary and access to public funds for more corruption while the people are left to rue their ill-fate? Is ACN not the second reincarnation of the AD that was in power throughout the South/West before OBJ overran the region in 2003? What were the legacies of the AD in the South/West when it held sway for four years in this dispensation in the LOOBO states minus Edo and Delta, from Ondo all the way to Lagos States? Where are their legacies?

How much did AD transform the South/West when it held the reins of power in the region unchallenged? And what are Bola Tinubu’s legacies in Lagos? How transformed was Lagos under Tinubu for eight solid years? If it was, we wouldn’t be hearing about the wonders Governor Fashola is doing in the state today. If it was, Lagos wouldn’t be one of the filthiest and infrastructure-challenged cities in the world today. And if it was, there would be no BBC documentary revealing the rot in Lagos to the world. Who is fooling who?

There is nothing to rejoice over in the South/West becoming an ethnic enclave of the ACN as it was of the AG, AD, AC, and now ACN. This linear succession trajectory was only broken by the PDP interjecting itself in 2003 courtesy of OBJ, which, however, did not go down well with ethnic jingoists in the zone now being led by Bola Tinubu from Lagos. It is Tinubu’s game plan that is currently playing out in the South/West. ACN chieftains in Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and indeed Lagos states, are now under the suzerainty of Lagos political overlord, who is now acting as if he were the political heir apparent to beloved the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

But it is a sad day for the nation that the South/West has simply withdrawn into an ethnic cocoon with these questionable electoral victories. Nigeria has moved beyond the ethnic parties of the First Republic and that’s why we’re being hard on Malam Adamu Ciroma and his revisionist anachronism in the north for taking the nation back to its regional, ethnic past.

There is no region in the nation that is still maintaining purely ethnic party. The North has no successive parties for the NPC and NEPU. Ditto for the East. The NCNC has no successor in the East today. APGA and PPA are no successors of the NCNC. Only ACN is for the AD and UPN and AG in that order. Yes, only the West has refused to shed its ethnic coat since independence to date. And I perfectly understand the ethnic sentiments of many of the ACN chieftains to retake their region from the “Federal forces” represented by the PDP as it was back in the day with the AG and UPN.

It explains why the ACN is on rampage in the West and the West alone never bothering itself with what goes on in other parts of the country, for instance, its loss in Anambra gubernatorial election where its candidate, Dr. Chris Ngige lost. ACN kept mum and allowed Ngige to carry his load all by himself and lost. But when it comes to the South/West, it is fight to finish!  

If this was a plot then with Justice Salami to return the zone to ethnic ACN, it represents a huge setback for national integration and the mainstreaming of the South/West, which had been achieved heretofore. However, if the South/West truly wants to go back to its ethnic cocoon, let the people themselves say so with their votes. Let the people do it with their votes. Justice Ayo Salami and Bola Tinubu shouldn’t speak for them through the back door. It is both unethical and undemocratic and they have no right to, seriously. 

 

Folks, I’m ditching it out hot and sizzling as it is, no holds-barred, because I’m sick and tired of what Nigerians have made of democracy, including the judiciary itself. A judicially hijacked democracy is no democracy at all.

And here comes the Big One! The NBA, citing statistics from the National Judicial Commission (NJC) came out with a smoking gun—the earth-shattering revelation indicating that a whopping 80% of members of the Nigerian Judiciary are incompetent and below average. That’s right. 80% are downright incompetents!  And you’re wondering, what the heck is happening in Nigeria! Can’t get that damned place clean up for real?

Who knew that the NJC had been discretely rating our judges and keeping its findings to itself away from the public? Who knew that the NJC knew all along that only 20% of judicial officers in Nigeria are dispensing justice and the rest have been dispensing injustice to Nigerians and kept all of that information to itself?

I give kudos to the present leadership of the NBA in this issue. They have done the nation a great service indeed by revealing the rot in the judiciary. What needs to be done is to, as a matter of public duty, engage the process of rooting out the incompetents and the corrupt from the judiciary to save our nation and our democracy. It shouldn’t stop at mere revelation. NBA senior members are the conduit pipes for judicial corruption, and if the leadership is serious, it should start its own house cleaning exercise now!

What else has the NJC found out that it’s keeping from Nigerians? This shroud of secrecy must be rented to further expose the innards of the judiciary much as it is happening in other departments of government through the untiring efforts of the EFCC, which the corrupt judiciary has been frustrating all along.  

In effect, the NJC has declared the entire judiciary as incompetent, because the remaining 20% is so infinitesimal as to amount to nothing. Now we have an incompetent judiciary on top of a chronically corrupt judiciary. What a double whammy! Is it any wonder then that the judiciary has been taking the nation on roller coaster in its handling of the election petitions?

Four good years after the 2007 elections the judiciary is yet to conclude election petitions! What manner of judiciary is that? But there is a method to the madness though. All that delay is not for nothing. It’s to enable the judiciary perfect its own rigging formula, which is now being swiftly applied with reckless abandon, one case after another in the dying minutes.

The truth of the matter is that we simply do not know who the rightful winners of the 2007 elections in these states are anymore! It is not who INEC told us. It is not who the tribunals and the Court of Appeal told us either. It is who the people themselves told us and the only way to find out is to go back to the people who, by the way, are still alive, not judges. And that invariably means conducting rerun elections between the right candidates and nothing else.

For instance, conducting a rerun in the contentious six wards in Idi-Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti state shouldn’t be such a big deal that we would be wasting our time and money running from one judicial pillar to another judicial post with nocturnal visits armed with Ghana-Must-Go in between. 

What we are doing presently is simply replacing rigging by INEC with rigging by the judiciary by robbing Peter to pay Paul. However, the case of Ekiti stands out as a sore thumb because it involves the President of the Court of Appeal himself, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, who presided over this judgment. He made sure he handled it himself. Here is some interesting background to this case as recalled by Dr. Okonwo Nnaji in his article:  EKITI JUDGMENT: ACN AND ITS “ARREST DIATRIBE”

“It is on record that the capon of the ACN Mafia, Mr. Bola Tinubu has variously been linked with the President of the court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, which Tinubu himself confirmed in an advertorial authored by him and published in various national newspapers. It is even yet to be denied by either Justice Salami or his friend, Bola Tinubu that the latter hosted Salami to a lavish reception shortly after his (Salami's) confirmation as President of the Appellate Court by the Senate.

It is equally on record that whereas the identities of the Justices who would be members of the panel that will determine the Ekiti re-run appeal were not unveiled until the day of adoption of briefs by counsel, members of the ACN in Ekiti had been boasting that they would get a favourable composition as Justice Salami is an avowed friend of their financier and Major Shareholders, Tinubu. It was no surprise therefore that they trooped out to the streets and various drinking and "Paraga" joints to celebrate the confirmation of their expectation upon the unveiling of the membership of the Appeal Panel, headed by no less a person than their man, Justice Salami.

The question to ask then is what could have informed Mohammed of a favourable judgment which he is accusing the PDP of wanting to arrest? Could it be that the judgment has been leaked to them or could they have been assured of a favourable judgment by anybody? What formed the basis for the attempt by ACN's Lai Mohamed to blackmail the PDP with the outcome of a judgment that is still being expected?”

Now pray, how could a judicial officer who was treated to a grand reception by the chairman of a political party which is a party to an election petition allow himself or be allowed to preside over such petition even without more? What manner of justice would such a judge be expected to dispense in the circumstances?

Here then is the critical issue in this matter: Was the documented personal relationship existing between the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, and the ACN chieftain, Chief Bola Tinubu, not enough to disqualify him outright from touching that case in the first place? Would it surprise anyone, therefore, that the judgment had been leaked to ACN weeks before it was delivered by Salami hence the public outcry by ACN about alleged attempts by the PDP to “arrest” it and the elaborate preparations made by the party to celebrate its contrived victory? These are questions still hanging in the air that the NJC has been called upon to unravel as in the previous two cases cited above as well as the case of Sokoto state that would have gone the way of Ekiti in the hands of the same Justice Salami, but for the timely intervention of the Supreme Court.

Mission Statementt

AT THIS JUNCTURE, I would like to remind the reader that this series started with digs on the nation’s judiciary with regards to its emerging dual profile as the ultimate gubernatorial terminator and kingmaker via election petitions. And it’s ending on the same note. It has to be because with the newfound power assumed by the nation’s judiciary, the survival of Nigeria’s democracy may well depend on the competence, integrity, incorruptibility and professionalism of the nation’s judicial officers.

When voters step out of their homes to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice, they expect their votes to count and be counted. No one goes to the polls expecting or thinking that ultimately it is one judge or a band of judges sitting in elevated platform that would determine who would be his governor or parliamentary representative as the case may be. If that were the case he might as well decide not to come out to vote at all and let the judges do the voting themselves.

It is either the people are allowed to do the voting and elect their leaders or the judges do the voting themselves in their chambers and elect leaders for the people. The nation cannot have it both ways— for people to vote at elections and then have judges stepping in later to overturn results and impose leaders on the people behind their backs. It is a flagrant abuse of the democratic process. 

There are no two ways about it. The idea of “Judge-Made” governors, as one writer puts it, is totally alien to, and, therefore, unacceptable in our democracy or any democracy for that matter. The seemingly wholesale takeover of the electoral process by the judiciary without deference to either INEC or the people themselves is antithetical to democracy.

A judge-made governor is an impostor and can, therefore, not legitimately parade himself as the people’s governor, because he’s not a true representative of the people but a representative of the judiciary that made him. It’s a shame that some governors in Nigeria are happy to wear the label of “Judge-Made Governor” on their gubernatorial sleeves.

While many Nigerians seemed carried away by the judgments of the Appeal Court without adverting their minds to the corrupt manner in which they were procured, it is gratifying to note that many a having to rethink their earlier positions. In this connection I would respectfully seek leave of the reader to cite a few write ups that seem to undergird this new thinking. 

Ekiti: Electoral Justice vs. Judicial Robbery and the second piece by Tunde Akinrinsola with the unflattering title, “Enter! Fayemi, the Judge-made Governor of Ekiti” published respectively in the November 26th and 29th editions of the African Herald Express newspaper, which can be accessed respectively through the above links.  

As indicated in the title of his piece, Ayo Odesodun, who was at first jubilant about the judgment a while back later turned around to characterize the judgment as nothing short of “judicial robbery”.

He confessed that like many Nigerians, he had been misled into initially applauding the Court of Appeal judgment by newspaper reports without having first read the judgment itself to see if it has any merits to it. And as he did he eventually discovered for himself that there was nowhere vote rigging was mentioned in the judgment on the part of the sacked governor. On the contrary what he found was the total annulment of the votes of an entire local government area, which happens to be the stronghold of the Governor Oni on the flimsy ground that the voter’s register was missing and couldn’t, therefore, be tendered.  And worse still, he discovered in that judgment that the same voter register for the local government had, in fact, been burned by agents of the Action Congress (AC), the very party of the petitioner himself! And finally, he discovered that the Court of Appeal simply annulled the votes cast in that local government area which is the stronghold of Governor Segun Oni and subtracted them from the total vote count to declare Dr. Kayode Fayemi the winner—in other words, robbing Peter to pay Paul! 

And that is not all. The writer found that Fayemi and his AC had made elaborate preparations for the celebration of his impending victory two weeks before the judgment was given. It is on record that the AC had cried out that some people were about to “arrest” the judgment of the court that was about to be delivered. As Governor Oni’s special assistant asked: How did Fayemi and the AC know afore-hand the outcome of the case and proceeded to make such elaborate preparations for the celebration of victory many weeks ahead of time and they were so worried that some people might temper with the favorable judgment coming their way?

These are the dark clouds hovering over the purported Fayemi victory at the Appeal Court. These are the miseries surrounding Court of Appeal judgment in the Ekiti Gubernational Election Petition that the National Judicial Council has been asked to unravel.

And that is why gubernatorial petitions indeed all petitions must not be terminated at the Court of Appeal but must be allowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court. The fate that befell the governors of Ondo, Edo, Ekiti, Osun and Delta in the hands of the Court of Appeal might have been different had there been appeals allowed all the way to the Supreme Court.

A case in point in this regard is that of the Governor of Sokoto State alluded to earlier whom the Court of Appeal was already itching to dethrone even though, like Governor Oni of Ekiti state, he had won a court ordered election rerun in his state. Yet his opponent was able to manipulate another division of the same Court of appeal Justices after the Governor had won his appeal in one division with a view to declaring his opponent the winner of the rerun. And the Appeal Court was on the verge of doing his bidding when the Governor cried to the Supreme Court on the grounds of abuse of court process and the Supreme Court saved his neck from the Almighty Court of Appeal. Otherwise the nation would have woken up one morning with the news of yet another governor dethroned and a serial loser crowned as Governor of Sokoto State!

And as usual, Nigerians and the press would have been jubilating and attacking Iwu and INEC. Our people have a long, long way to go indeed. Folks, it is time to remove the blinkers and get down to some serious thinking because all that glitters is not gold. Let face it: The judiciary is corrupt and that is no news. Therefore Nigerians should ttop pretending that its judgment is the last hope of the common man. Which common man are we talking about, by the way? The man who bribed his way to the Government House? Please give me a break! Common man my foot!

This is what the nation is up against—the use of the judiciary to overturn election results and the consequent imposition of electoral losers on the people in the states. Armed with this blanket power, the Court of Appeal Justices have been carrying on as if they were gods. With a stroke of the pen, they sack governors from office and replace them with their men. With a stroke of the pen, they throw out votes cast by Nigerians at the polls and replace them with their own votes. With a stroke of the pen, they nullify results of elections and replace them with their own results.

And so from Edo to Ondo, Ekiti to Osun, Rivers to Delta, these power drunk Justices have been on elections annulment spree; sacking governors and legislators and replacing them with their favorite candidates all on their own without as much as deferring to the people themselves. Only Delta state was an exception where a rerun was ordered. Thank God for His little mercies!

How could a band of judges sitting in elevated platforms somewhere in Benin City declare that there were no elections in an entire Delta state when elections were holding in other states the very same day? How much sense does that make even at face value without more? What exactly is the court saying here? Is it telling the world that the millions of Deltans, who trooped out to vote on election day were animals or aliens from outer space or somethings that are not recognized to vote? Or is it telling the world that there was a curfew imposed only in Delta state during the elections that prevented Deltans from coming out to vote?

The judiciary is messing up our democracy. But does it have to be this way? No. It doesn’t have to be this way. There has to be change. As the NBA President opined:

“It is not for nothing that the finality of certain courts in election matters has been displaced, leaving finality to the Supreme Court. That measure shows the level of confidence the legislature still reposes in the apex court. One point is however clear, if the warning signals raised on the issue of corruption is not heeded, jurisdiction may one day be taken away from regular courts on election matters”.

My candid advice to the nation is not to allow our democracy be in the hands of one court—the Court of Appeal with Justice Ayo Salami as its president. When we recall that it was the judiciary that was used to kill democracy in 1993, no one needs to be reminded that our democracy is doomed in the hands of the dishonorable Justices of the Appeal Court.

Solution: My earlier suggestion—Make the Supreme Court the final Court of Appeal in all matters as it should be and let’s see how unscrupulous politicians will handle it. Do that and the ACN will be singing the blues all the way with its Justice Salami deprived of giving the final word on election petitions. It’s about time the ACN demonstrated to us that it is capable of winning elections without going through the back door of judicial coronation after the polls. That‘s dishonorable. That’s unethical. That’s shameful. 

Franklin Otorofani, Esq. is an Attorney and Public Affairs Analyst and can be reached at mudiagaone@yahoo.com



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