Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, March 5, 2020 – The historical, landmark, courageous and commendable minority judgment delivered on 3rd March 2020 by Mr. Justice Chima Centus (CC) Nwaeze at Nigeria’s Supreme Court in a review application filed by the Supreme Court ousted Gov of Imo State, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha is not enough to delist all the serving Justices of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Nigeria from having the hallowed titles of ‘Lordship’ and ‘Honorable’ removed from their official names.
It is also remembered that the decision by Intersociety to morally slam the serving Justices of the two Courts followed their ‘political’ or controversial handling of the 2019 Presidential Poll matter, which the same Justice Nwaeze was part of. Mr. Justice Nwaeze had in his concurring verdict in Atiku v Buhari (2019), held that “I see no reason for departing from the reasoning of the lower court. I find that this appeal is without merit and it is accordingly dismissed”. The moral punishment slammed on the named serving Justices is also grounded in vicarious liability and on this, no exception or exemption is allowed.
The above was the position of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law in a statement issued today and signed by its key officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi (Board Chair), Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Chinwe Umeche, Esq., Head of Democracy & Good Governance and Ndidiamaka Bernard, Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights. It is reminded that lawyers and criminologists working with Intersociety are free to choose otherwise in their private or professional dealings with the said branches of the Nigerian Judiciary and their judicial officers.
It is recalled that Mr. Justice CC Nwaeze had in his dissent judgment in the Imo Governorship review copiously disagreed with his six colleagues including the CJN and asked the Court to set aside the 14th Jan 2020 judgment, describing it “as a nullity and delivered in bad faith”. He also nullified the declaration of Mr. Hope Uzodimma as governor on account of wrong ‘declaration’ and that Uzodimma misled the Court into unjust conclusion with unverified votes in 388 poling units”. The Judge concluded that “this decision of the Supreme Court will continue to hunt our electoral jurisprudence for a long time to come”.
Supreme Court decision on bayelsa is a third ‘virus’ in the row
The Supreme Court judgment on Bayelsa Governorship, delivered on 13th Feb 2020 not only despicably has something in common with that of Imo State, delivered by same Supreme Court on 14th Jan 2020 but it is also ‘a third virus in the row’. The first and second are the 30th October, 2019 (Atiku v Buhari) and 14th January, 2020 (Uzodimma v Ihedioha, INEC and ors). The three ‘judicial viruses’ also have a commonality: ‘judicial corruption and bastardization of the sacred electoral wishes of majority of Nigerians and majority of the citizens of Imo and Bayelsa States.
In the case of Imo, the Supreme Court magisterially imported dead votes and awarded same to Mr. Hope Uzodimma and in Bayelsa State, the same Court controversially ruled that “once a candidate answers names other than his or her name at birth and his or her surname, then he or she is a rogue elected public official that must have his or her election or swearing in declared a nullity”. It was on these two flimsy grounds that the Apex Court removed the two popularly elected governors and replaced them with those massively rejected at poll.
In Bayelsa, too, there was never a contention as to whether the ousted Deputy Gov-Elect attended primary school and earned a FSLC, or attended secondary school and earned a WASC or GCE, or attended a university and earned a B.Sc., and post graduate studies and earned an MBA. These were never disputed by the Supreme Court; except that ‘he answered multiple names’ in his educational credentials. Contrarily, the same Supreme Court had earlier or barely five months ago turned blind eye and refused to inquire into President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificates particularly his secondary school education and its controversial WASC certificate.
Nigerian politicians lack intellectual depth
The shallowness with which politics is played in Nigeria by political actors is called “pollutant virus” or “political virus” and this played out recently and lent credence to the decision of the Supreme Court Justices on Imo review case. In other words, it was the shallowness or lack of tact and depth on the part of PDP and its key players that substantially robbed them of a favorable decision. The recent development in Bayelsa also partly aided same.
That is to say that the Party and its key figures ‘fought like men but ended like children’. The Party and its key figures ended up providing escape route for the Supreme Court Justices who already found themselves at crossroads. This, the Party and its key figures did by bastardizing the initially well coordinated and publicly sympathetic campaigns. Announcing their “plans to seek for the review of the Presidential Poll case” was a suicidal error that facilitated an easy way for the Justices to escape.
The struggling and diminishing Justices must also have reasoned that ‘if the review application was granted as pleaded, it would have opened a floodgate of fresh applications for review of all recently decided electoral cases, decided by the Supreme Court” and might be extended to the Court of Appeal for review of its decided National and State Assembly cases. Intersociety sees totality of these as nothing short of intellectual and political shallowness or tactlessness.
History will remember retiring PCA, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa in negative
The journey towards terrorization of Nigeria’s democratic process in 2019 by the Judiciary has a starting point and it is located in the doorstep of the chambers of the retiring President of the Court of Appeal, Justice (Madam) Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa who retires from Bench tomorrow, 6th March 2020. She will be negatively remembered as a PCA who propounded “stifling time frame” in the country’s electoral jurisprudence.
Through ‘stifling time frame’ majority of Nigerians were denied justice at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in the case of declaration of President Buhari and in Imo Governorship matter at the Supreme Court, ‘stifling time frame’ also played a key role in the denial of justice to the citizens of the State. Justice Amina Zainab Bulkachuwa, as PCA and then Chair of the Presidential Poll Tribunal had ensured that over 100, out of the constitutionally allowed 180 days were wasted or lost, leaving only less than 80 days for the Appellate Court to inquire into how the 2019 presidential poll was conducted into the country’s 176,000 polling units across the country.
Present governments of Imo & Bayelsa remain a product of judicial coronation & illegitimacy
The two Governments are clearly a product of ‘input illegitimacy’ and judicial coronation. They are also unpopular Governments instituted though ‘other means’ (i.e. via judicial coronation). In other words, in Imo State, majority voted for PDP and its ousted Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, but were judicially robbed and in Bayelsa State, majority voted for APC and its Governor/Deputy-Elect (David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo), but were also judicially robbed.