I wish to start this intervention with a story. An antelope was running ‘like mad’ because policemen were arresting all the goats at Yankari games village. An elephant asked why it was running since it was not a goat and the antelope responded ‘with the current judicial system in Nigeria, it will take me at least 20 years to prove that I am not a goat’, and it continued running. The elephant wisened up and also started running at an uncommon speed.
I acknowledge that the copyright to COURTocracy, to the best of my knowledge, belongs to Sam Omatseye, who coined the term in an article in their ‘The Nation’ of 17/2/20. Fifty eight years ago, Kwame Nkruma, one of the immediate post-independence Pan Africanists authored a classical book titled ‘Neo colonialism, the last stage of imperialism’ (1965, PANAF Books).
I read it in my days at UI, when I was a hot Marxian Pan-Africanist and when my name was ‘Ik Castro Muo’( the only Castro without beards) and my friends knew me more by Castro than by Ik! For some unknown reasons, the title of that book had been etched in my memory since then and when I started laying the foundation for this intervention, I found it useful.
He had propounded that under neo-Colonialism ‘The state is in theory independent and has all the trappings of sovereignty but in reality, its political system and thus its political policy is everything but independent’.
So, COURTcracy, as the last stage of Nigerian Democracy, is the situation, in which our dear Nigeria has all the trappings of a democratic state ( elections, three tiers of government, rule of law etc) but in reality, it is anything but democratic as the power to decide who rules has been roughly wrested from the citizens and handed over to the courts It as government of Nigeria by the courts and for their cohorts.
The recent declaration by John Cardinal Onaiyekan, that “ I am still waiting for the court to determine who won the election’, is a pointer to our descent into the full blown COURTocracy. Few days after that, the Supreme Court declared Adeleke as the authentic Governor Osun State 10 months after he won the elections (on 17/7/22). Incidentally, it was the same Supreme Court that declared Oyetola as the winner over Adeleke in July 2019!
So, what role did the voters play in this leadership recruitment process and why should our learned brothers(whose season it is now), look at the same law, the same circumstances, the same sequence of events and declare the winner differently? In the recent Osun case, the Supreme court ruled in favour of Adeleke after the Tribunal had ruled against him.
And just the other day, Chief Bode George declared presidential election was not yet ‘definitively over’. And then, one Justice from Kano allegedly ‘dethroned’the Abia Governor elect, and other LP candidates across the country for failure to submit the party’s membership register 30 days before the election. In one of the fastest judicial pronouncementsin Nigerian history, a case for which the originating summons was filed on 11/5/23, had judgement delivered on 18/5/23!
If our judicial processes had always been so efficient and swift, the antelope we encountered at the beginning of this article, would not have been running endlessly. The case eventually became laughable but it has reminded us once more that the Courts are IN Charge
The judiciary actually exists to interpret the laws and in the case of elections, adjudicate when there are disagreements as to the process or outcomes. It did not start today and that was why Obi was able to reclaim his mandate so brazenly stolen by Eselu-Uga and Co in conjunction with Ngige.
Even the former comrade, Adams Oshiohole, could not have become a governor if not for the courts. We then had the Amaechi-Omehiacase and we had the Supreme Court Governor of Imo State! But today, the court has become the institution of first and last resort. That is why electoral victors are advised to wait until the court speaks.
The courts are also the author and finisher of the nomination processes as they anoint and dethrone contestants and candidates with reckless abandon. On 20/1/23, the court sacked Umo Eno as PDP gubernatorial candidate for in Akwa Ibom and recognised Michael Enyong; on 1/2/23:Appeal Court Reinstated Azubogu as APGA candidate for Anambra Central- a few days to election.
His initial candidature was nullified by a high court. On 2/2/23, a Court ordered INEC to accept LP candidates in 24 states by manually or electronically. On 10/3/23, the Supreme Court replaced Shekarau with Hanga as the NNPP candidate for Kano Central and that was after the elections.
On 8/3/23, the Supreme Court also declared Greg Ibeh as the authentic Abia-APGA governorship candidate, when the election as just one week away, just as it affirmed Hembe as Benue LP candidate, 2 days to the rescheduled elections while a Court ordered INEC to list Udofia as APCs gubernatorial candidate, a few hours to the initially scheduled date of the elections.
The candidature of Lawan, Akpabio and Umahi, who are now ‘sinnators-elect’, bear the intimidating stamps of COURTocracy. Of course, a court authorised the use of temporary voters cards after the presidential election had gone.
The key consequence of these shenanigans is the intimidating and galloping number of court cases and of course, a boom in the legal and judicial economy. In 2007, under Iwu, there were 1299 electoral cases. Under Jega in 2011 and 2017, they were 751 and 677.
Under the current INEC chair, we had 811 in 2019 and 1044( 70% of the seats contested for) in 2023 and as at February, it has been joined in 1241 interparty cases for which INEC has budgeted N3bn for legal consultants. The spike in COUTocracy under Iwu( 2007)and Under Mahmood( to date) is an indication of the level of impunity cooked with the support or acquiescence of these electoral chefs.
The factors that lead to the advent and maturity of COURTocracy are diverse. There is the failure of political parties, politicians, and candidates to abide by the rules of the election at all levels. As somebody had lamented, they do not obey the laws of their parties, which they made themselves, they do no abide by the laws of the country and they do not abide by the laws of God.
This is because of impunity facilitated by disdain for internal democracy and godfathers in high places. This is because we have a pretend-democracy; Democracy without democrats.
INEC also fails to abide by its own guidelines or by the constitution and has been giving all sorts of watery reasons. INEC also apply different benchmarks for similar cases in different places as the case of inconclusiveness in Adamawa ( where Fintri led by 31249 votes) and conclusiveness in Ogun ( where Abiodun led by 13915).
Of course, the Adamawa case has secured a place in the Guinness Book of Records when the REC just took the microphone and announced Binani as the winner,( an action so brazen that INEC denied the result) disappeared for a while and reappeared to assert that he did the right thing.
We all recall what happened in Enugu and Abia States and how both states yielded different outcomes. The same INEC has only supplied about 20% of the documents 2 months after Obi requested for them and after Mahmood had promised that they would supply ALL the documents. The actions and inactions of High-Neck are thus fueling the theory and practice of COURTocrac
The judges are experts in black-market injunctions and at times, judges at the same level issue contradictory injunctions and/or judgements, and this is despite the sledge hammer from NJC. This will give a glimpse into the level of inducement involved. This situation, which became more rampant since 2007 has led to ‘confused confusion’.
At times, it appears that the lady of justice has her eyes wide open. In the alter of COURTocracy, all lawyers become subsidiary gods while the judges of all grades become the major gods and all the judicial staff become emergency church-workers., all in the temple of injustice. In all this we forget the timeless declaration by Justice Samson Uwaifo( Retired Supreme Court Judge) that ‘A corrupt judge is more harmful to the societythan a man who runs amok with a dagger in a crowded street’.
ButCOURTocracy, contains some positive elements. It leads to a bullish judicial stock-market. INEC has budged N3bn for electoral legal combat; all the parties at the tribunal have amassed about 129 SANs and this is despite the assertion by ‘The lawyer’( 21/5/96) that too many lawyers spoil the broth. Already, NJC has assembled 257 judges to manage the various petitions.
You can then imagine the cash flow within the judicial market in the next couple of months and the positive impact on Nigerians debt-ridden economy. The electoral process turned into what Bobo Brown termed electoral banditry, which could not have worked without COURTocracy, which has therefor also improved the bandit economy
As I posited through the title, COURTocracy is the last stage of Nigerian Democracy. This was signed, sealed and delivered when people involved in all forms of unmentionable electoral heists told those adversely affected to GO to COURT( GTC). And those adversely affected varies with time and space. And thus while APC was on top in Lagos and nationwide, it suffered terrible nose-bleeding in Wike’s PH. Even Tatcha who claimed that the cloth she wore at the recent awards cost $20k has asked those who disagreed with her to GTC!
Lucky Goodluck had advised after casting his vote that. ‘Any country where ballot papers cannot select the leaders is doomed’. We know that this is true but while we await that date, when the ballot determines our fate and future, we must continue to manage with fine-tune COURTocracy, I agree with Tunde Daramola, former member of PDP-NEC, former member of APC-PCC that ‘There is NO point voting is election winners are decided by the courts, (Guardian. Saturday 13/5/23.).
Read also: How democracy crumbles: The Nigerian case
In effect, what is the essence of our voting when the judiciary determines the outcomes? I have therefore, as a part of my community service to the nation,designed this ingenious method of optimising COURtocracy:
Those who want to occupy a given position should just declare themselves as winners and the courts will then determine the real winner, as determined by wizardry of the lawyers and the deepness of the pockets of the contestants . This method is cheap, swift, simple, saves lives as there will be no space for area boys. My only worry is that thugs and INEC, including their contractors and consultants will this noble model.
Congratulations here and there
To AJ Abosede, the first home-grown Professor of Business Administrationin OOU, who delivered the 108th Inaugural lecture( Managing Enterprises: Trends, Travails and Takeaways) on 9/5/23. He introduced the 3Ts of management and suggested for further studies on the nexus between women empowerment and domestic stability( divorce rate) in Africa.
To the Management and Staff of OOU, for emerging 18th the recent Nigerian ranking and the successful take-off of the OOU-Open & Distance Learning Institute. And to Chief Onyeka Nnabugwu, (Ume-Ikemba), who emerged as the Alor2 of Igbo-Ukwuthe other day.
Muo is of the Dept of Business Administration, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. 08033026625