LEGAL IDEAS FORUM

OPINION BY OLAMIDE C. M- NIGERIA JUDICIARY: MATTERS ARISING

Anchor: A federal high court at Abuja gave judgement for the suspension of Oshimole as the APC chairman after which a Federal High court in Kano set the judgement aside, this should be a Legal blunder, don’t you think so?

Olamide CM: Without an iota of doubt, it’s more than a Legal blunder, taking into cognizance the coordinate jurisdiction the two courts shares. It’s an abnormal and unprecedented approach for the Federal High Court sitting in Kano to annul or set aside the decision of the Federal Hight Court sitting in Abuja.
Let’s avert our minds to the similar case like this during Babangida’a regime where synonymous issue like this came up, Judges involved in this bizarre were compulsorily forced to retire.
To me, this is a fundamental wrong and it shouldn’t be condoned. The suit in Kano constitute an unmitigated abuse of Court’s process.
Anchor: So not too long ago,Sowere was arrested inside the court and the judge was chased with a gun inside her chamber, what do you have to say about such a barbaric act considering the fact that the alledged offenders are yet to receive any sanction?
Olamide CM: It’s no more a rumor that the organiser of the Revolution Now was rearrested in the court room minutes after the sitting judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted him bail. I would like to enunciate in numerous view of prominent scholars and erudite analyst on the sad and unmerited occurrence.
Femi Falana, in his view about this barbaric behavior orchestrated by the DSS, said and I quote “…This is gangsterism but we will fight back” The forceful invasions of the DSS is an undisputable suspension of our Constitution and a further battering of the Judiciary, which points to an emerging lawlessness that can only find space in a military regime. …Never in the history of Nigerian democracy has a Judge been treated in such a disdainful and brazen attack on not just her person and office, but on the Judiciary! This is absolutely unacceptable. It’s a total disgrace to our nation. We have liken the purported statement made by Sowore to his personal right to freedom of expression and the press as provided for in the Constitution. It’s pertinent to note that the DSS replied to the challenging acts of its officials. They contended that-“ The activist resorted to acts inimical to security…”
It has therefore become arguable and worthy of investigation as to who between Sowore and the DSS disregarded the court? Without a shadow a doubt, I believe the acts of the DSS constitute an intolerable act of Contempt to the honorable court. Video clips were publicized to render the DSS lawless.
A statement written by the DSS delivered by the press provides that-“ For emphasis, it should be noted that Sowore is facing trial not as an activist, journalist or a politician but for his resort to call for violence, forceful takeover of government and suspected transnational activities…”
Then my question is: Was that the reason behind his first arrest!? Absolutely No! They were just looking for flimsy excuses to justify their acts! Which is so unfortunate.
Anchor: In 2019 the media was awash with the sack of Onnoghen, the then chief judge of Nigeria and his replacement with Muhammad Tanko, what do you think about such removal and appointment therefrom knowing that Tanko is a Sharia Court Judge?
Olamide CM: It is pertinent to shine a searchlight on the CJN’s suspension and the power play lying behind it. The removal of CJN Onnoghen is actually a reflection of a momentous division among the ruling class arising from differences of opinion on how to move forward in a crisis-ridden capitalist society. What is unfolding before us is a case of a regime fighting for its life; like all regimes in their dying days. The illusion of integrity of the deceitful APC-Buhari administration is daily being shattered. The regime has lost a significant segment of its support-base locally, and also from its imperialist friends in America and Europe. It is becoming harder by the day for the regime’s supporters to defend its utter ineptitude. Like others before it, the regime will not go down without a fight; without violating the so-called ‘Rule of Law’. This is what is playing out.
Many people believe that the president acted illegally and unconstitutionally. They are of the opinion that the Nigerian Constitution guarantees security of tenure for judicial officers, especially the CJN, and that was why PMB could make no reference to the constitution in his public address to support his action. This school of public opinion maintained that a CJN cannot be suspended or removed from office without the recommendation of the Nigerian Judicial Commission and two-thirds concurring approval of the Senate. They equally posited that PMB’s declaration that the CJN constituted an obstacle to his anti-corruption fight was all nonsense and a disguised tyrannical and fascistic shift. This group constitutes the so-called ‘patriots, lovers of democracy, believers in the rule of law and abhorrence of corrupt practices in our public life’. A sizeable number of this group also believe that the anti-corruption campaign of PMB is selective and the ousting of the CJN a planned electoral manoeuvre.
Even legal infants knows that before the CJN can be removed or appointed, there must recommendation made by the NJC, and subsequent approval by the Senate. It is however unappreciated that reverse is the case in Onnoghen’s dismissal and the appointment of the incumbent CJN! 
To crown it all, the sad news that was announced about the resignation of our previous CJN got everybody dazzled and surprised. Most people believed and I concur that the CJN was probably threatened, Frustrated and coerced into resigning. What is hidden, only God knows! But I think it’s unreasonable for man who is nearly close to his retirement age to personally resign all of a sudden!
Anchor: In the recent concluded election, many elected candidates were sacked due to technicality, and ante poll technicalities, don’t you think this limits the popularity of the people they were replaced with as they are not a reflection of the majority of the people’s choice.
Olamide CM: Looking at the rate at which courts, rather than the electorate, end up determining actual winners of the polls, is the credibility of the Nigerian elections at stake? I believe the answer is yes.
The power to determine who is elected into political office ought to be decided by voters. Judicial recourse is perfectly allowed and is preferable to extra-judicial measures to redress perceived electoral slights. But this should be an exceptional option taken to rectify an electoral impropriety of some sort.
Democracy is literally defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people! Thus, Any election or an electorate that doesn’t align with the need of the people is democratically wrong!
Why will the court choose for the people? Where is our ordained Utilitarianism? There is a Maxim that says the good of the people must be the Supreme Law! Though, it’s indisputably universal that there are criteria elected candidates must meet, but the word Technicality can limit the flow of Justice. For as far as I’m concerned, anything lost in Law would be find in Law. So Technicalities may sometimes not be coupled with a reasonable man’s perspective.
One of the most recent cases was in Bayelsa State . The candidate of the All Progressives Congress was initially thought to have won the election. But, he was sacked by the Supreme Court 24 hours before his swearing-in ceremony because, the court found, his running mate had presented fake documents and was therefore disqualified. You can’t be a candidate without a qualified running mate.
There is also a case in Imo State. There, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party was sworn into office like others on 29 May 2019. But he was removed by the Supreme Court following a dispute over the electoral result. In its ruling, the court declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress the winner. He’d come fourth at the polls.
When Technicality is used to disqualify people’s opinion and interest, then Injustice, and unwarranted favor would be used to elect an unwanted candidate. It’s so shameful and disheartening.
About the Author
OLAMIDE C. M is a law student of Acheivers University, Owo. A legal researcher and writer. 
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