I had written this opinion before the Federal High Court judgement which nullified the participation of former Senator Andy Uba in the November 6th Anambra Gubernatorial Election as the APC candidate.
The bombshell of judgment described the APC primary election as crude and primitive. Justice Inyang Ekwo in his ruling rightly declared that APC had no candidate in the said election, thereby denying Senator Uba any locus standi to further challenge Soludo’s victory.
Before now, I had joined those that appealed to Uba to save himself a shameful political demise by respecting the will of the people. Rather than accept this wise counsel he shifted to the tribunal and had a battle line drawn between him and the people.
In the eyes of the people , his political career is already beleaguered and plagued by nothing but him challenging the people’s will. His reputation has taken a hit. Regardless of the decision of the Federal High Court and maybe other courts , he already lost respect.
Before the ruling of the Federal High Court , it was a common knowledge that APC Primary Election that threw him up as a candidate was fakery. The Election Committee announced the results of election it didn’t conduct. On the said date of the primary there was no electoral officers, no accreditation of voters, no voting and no collation of results, yet Uba was credited with 230,000 ghost votes.
Few weeks ago, a video surfaced of where some members of APC caucus meeting admitted of having pre-written the governorship election results but unfortunately for them INEC played by the rule book.
I had a number of times consistently told Uba reasons he lost the election. I don’t know why he kept lying to himself. I don’t know why he kept bringing up bogus reasons why he lost? I told him again for free that his chances of reversing Soludo’s victory is zero. Now , look at this .
By the way, it is well within his right to go to court. Several election disputes have been resolved by the courts in the past thus making the judiciary an unwilling part of the electoral process. But when an election was adjudged free, fair and credible as was the Anambra governorship election, then going to court becomes both preposterous and an attempt attempt to undermine democracy.
According to those who saw the court papers he filed before the tribunal, he was basically saying to the people , ‘you silly and stupid voters, I don’t care how you voted or whom you voted for, I have these three unelected judges sitting as a tribunal and they will install me as your governor’. Wow!
With people like Uba, our democracy is in trouble, and there is no pointpretending that all is well with our Judiciary either. We must be careful not to lose the Judiciary to politics, because if we lose the courts, we lose everything. The judiciary is not just the last hope of the common man but the last bastion of democracy.
It’s a shame that our politics is now characterized by widespread fraud, perpetuated by political conmen with extensive judicial dimension. With the aid of willing judicial officers, the consent and will of the people are frequently undermined, thus making nonsense of John Locke thesis on democracy as a system where the people by their consent chose their leaders. It was never intended that the court or panel of judges will replace the power of the people in democracy.
Most unfortunately, now in Nigeria, rather than popular participation, the new wisdom is: Don’t waste your time campaigning. Don’t throw away your money printing bill boards , handbills or posters. Don’t waste your time hiring consultants. Don’t waste your money on television or radio adverts. Don’t waste your efforts and money on contact and mobilization. Forget about the voters; there votes don’t count anyway. Just keep your money in the bank or where ever and call one smart lawyer to tell you all the loopholes in the constitution and the Electoral Act . Memorize the loopholes and give all the money to a willing judge who may not even have a jurisdiction. Tell him you have gotten all the loopholes the opponents have flouted . And I bet you -thanks to rigging through the courts you shall win, forget whether you came either third or fourth position in the estimation of the people. The court will shamelessly install you.
Vote buying, electoral violence , ballot box snatching , stuffing of ballot boxes, inflation of votes, bribery of electoral officers , mutilation of results, manipulation of results is no longer the vogue. The real deal is scamming the judiciary or rigging through the courts.
Ordinarily , the courts are there to adjudicate on electoral disputes in a manner that gives hope and restores the confidence of the people in democracy. This sacred duty of interpreting the law, the constitution and Electoral Act is a duty vested in the courts by the Constitution. Ironically, this is a duty some of the courts are failing woefully because we now have lousy and corrupt judges who rather than interpret the law have injected themselves into criminal political enterprise thus making the courts which ought to be the bastion of democracy an institution of ridicule. If unscrupulous judges continue on this inglorious path and refuse to evolve a strong institution, the nation risk losing everything.
The case of Senator Hope Uzodimma v Emeka Ihedioha & INEC remains a classical case study. This case is even more disappointing because Senator Uzodimma ordinarily is a man with good standing with the Church. Before now, I consider him, a good Christian Catholic who will keep the Commandments, including not to willfully lie or bear false witness against anyone. How he successfully hoodwinked the court into believing that he came first from fourth position remain a political mystery.
According to Nweze JSC in his dissenting judgement ‘’there are over 129,340 votes in excess of accredited voters. The court can redeem its image by setting aside its judgement, if not this will continue to haunt our electoral jurisprudence’’. Nweze JSC was right. That judgement did not command the respect of the people and remain the darkest moment of the current supreme Court.
Prof Attahiru Jega was the immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He supervised several elections including the 2015 election that ushered in the current administration.
He said some corrupt judges are usually made part of election petition tribunal in order to corruptly enrich themselves by selling judgements to the highest bidders. He said some of these judges sold judgements to the highest bidders and quickly retired to avoid being sanctioned by the National Judicial Commission. Prof Jega who also was the former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University Kano said this in a lecture he delivered at the Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lecture organized by the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch to mark events of its 2021 Law Week.
Jega opined that some lawyers have become stupendously wealthy defending corrupt politicians or handling electoral litigation for governorship and presidential candidates. Similarly, many judges have become notorious for corrupt enrichment for ‘’cash and carry’’ judgements especially in election matters and generally in election tribunals, more specifically.
According to Jega ‘when lawyers use technicalities to win cases without regard to perpetration of injustices , they help to undermine rather than enhance national development, peaceful co-existence and security.’
‘’They discard ethical and professional conduct and put parochial/or self-serving objectives in the forefront of their practices’’.
Perhaps , Jega had some species of judges and politicians in mind when he spoke as this was the scenario that played out in Imo which some copy cats wanted to copy and paste in Anambra.
The battle line was drawn. It is as certain as day light that whatever is the judgment of this political circus , Uba has lost reputation, respect and the people and has no redemption in foreseeable future. What a sad way to say goodbye!