The Nigerian judiciary should be commended for the exemplary manner they have handled various cases in the election tribunals, particularly in the Kogi and Kebbi state. They have demonstrated that indeed the judiciary is the last hope of the masses.
It would be recalled that the April 14th and 21st 2007 elections were roundly condemned by local and international observers as the worst ever in the annals of Nigeria. Elections did not take place in many places in the country, yet figures were arbitrarily allocated and this elicited general public outcry, which has refused to go away.
The judiciary has refused to give political judgements that are not in tandem with the wish of the majority of the people, and the mood of the nation.
The judiciary has also nullified the election in various Houses of Assembly, and the elections of some members of National Assembly and so on. Albeit, the point should be some of the judgements of the tribunals have become very controversial like that of Delta State which is a clear-cut case of wrongful exclusion, but the tribunal went on to struck out the case of the petitioner for no cogent and legally verifiable reason, also in the case of Ogun State, the Election Petition Tribunal in Ogun State struck out the petition of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the candidate of ANPP, because they said, he did not indicate his party, age, educational qualification and nationality in the petition.
This judgement came as a rude shock to millions of Nigerians. It is a judgement that shook the confidence of people in the judiciary. It is unfortunate that such a judgement came up at a time that the judiciary is giving a good account of itself in other parts of the country. So, what influenced the tribunal to hastily dismiss virtually all ANPP cases before it, without looking into the merits?
Could it be said Amosun got justice from the Ogun state election petition tribunal? And there are so many authorities from the Supreme Court rulings that point to the fact that, the days of justice by technicality which is as bad as injustice are over. Justice by technicality has long died in Nigeria for good and has since been buried.
The trend these days is to strive to do substantial justice on the merit of each case. The situation in the Adamawa State election tribunal is as very dicey as ruling on petitions before it, has been shifted sine-die.
It is therefore very important that the National Judicial Council should look into all these cases with a few of dealing decisively with erring judges. The judiciary remains the last bastion of hope for the masses. The council should continue to encourage judges to give bold and landmark judgements, and put in place mechanism that will strengthen the judiciary as an essential institution of democracy, while throwing out and extricating the bad eggs from the system.
The whole world is looking at Nigeria’s democracy and they cannot afford to fail.
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