Supreme Court judgements
LAST week, the nation’s apex court, the Supreme Court delivered judgements in petitions from eight states over election disputes in the 2023 bitterly fought gubernatorial elections. The states were Lagos, Ebonyi, Abia, Kano, Cross River, Zamfara, Plateau and Bauchi.
DRAMATICALLY and in public applause, the apex court hacked down the appellate judgments from Kano, Zamfara and Plateau States and retained their governors. Similarly, the Supreme court in its wisdom upheld the election of the Governors of Lagos, Abia, Bauchi, Cross River and Ebonyi. Most significantly, the apex court upheld the election of the New Nigerian Peoples Party candidate, Abba Yusuf who earlier had been ousted from the exalted Kano Gubernatorial seat by the appellate court.
THE reversal of the appellate judgements signifies courage and reaffirms the independence of judiciary as the last hope of the common man, particularly at the highest echelon of the nation’s judiciary. Clearly and unequivocally, the decision of the Supreme Court warns politicians that they would no longer get undeserved victory through the back door except through the ballot box.
IT is worrisome that despite being in democracy continually for over 25 years, Nigerian politicians have refused blatantly to accept defeat through the ballot box and instead continued to depend on the courts to award them victory which they did not earn or deserve. It is on record that no election in the country with the exception of that of 2015 in which former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan voluntarily accepted defeat has not been fought up to the Supreme Court. Without any statistical data or backup, the huge cost of litigation is gargantuan with lawyers raking in mouth watering legal fees some of which are frighteningly scandalous. Unconfirmed reports have shown that the cost of litigation running into millions of Naira are borne by sitting Governors who reportedly dole out tax payers money to settle their private legal bills.
THE Hope calls on the National Assembly to enact a law which would prohibit the usage of public funds to finance private legal suits of public or elected officers as being presently done by Nigerian politicians. We enjoin public office seekers to show decorum and patriotism in their pursuit of political ambitions. Although, the parameters which influence public participation in elective offices varies, in modern democracies, selfless service remains high on the table of those who seek public offices in other climes.
ONE surest way to discourage the do-or-die concept of our politics which provokes litigation at the slightest irritation is money politics. Experience has revealed that despite the pretence by politicians that they are merely pursuing their constitutional rights each time they approach the courts either for redress or interpretation of knotty legal matters, the truth is that many of them are playing a chess game of either power bargaining, money or position.
EVIDENCE abounds how desperate politicians mortgage their property to foot politics and when they lose, they either resort to litigation or cross carpet to recoup their losses.
THE litigation squabbles common in our polity apart from being a heavy burden and drain on the courts, their personnel and little resources, have become a national shame, wastage of precious time and resources as litigants spend huge money on hiring lawyers and ferrying witnesses and logistics to courts.
ABOVE all, the assumed free will role of INEC as an unbiased umpire remains questionable and citizens want their say in the choice of the chairman of the commission. The inability of INEC to conduct free and fair election has contributed largely to the legal squabbles across the nation. Politicians are enjoined to be more circumspect in their political adventures by pursuing power honestly and with the fear of God.