• Sunday, March 03, 2024
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BusinessDay

The untold story of Nigeria’s judiciary, by Odinkalu

Elections in Nigeria: End of military era and the big business of polls

Citizens need to be interested in this issue and the problem of the judiciary without the tendency to reduce this to a party political issue, which it is not.

This matter didn’t start today. When the judgment in Amaechi’s case came down in December 2007, the Supreme Court gave its reason in January 2008. Here was the case of someone who was never on the ballot and was elected governor of River State. PDP was exalted, but that judgment is why we are where we are today.

It was the beginning or close to the beginning of our problem. Yes, there needed to be a remedy to the madness that was going on then, but whether that remedy was putting someone who had never been on the ballot was a different matter.

The Supreme Court could have easily decided in that case; we would nullify the election, we would recognise Amaechi as the candidate of the PDP but we would send this back to the people to decide.

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Was that not possible? Of course it was, but they chose not to do that and therefore expropriated to judges a decision that citizens should make in a democracy; deciding who rules them and deciding on who to confer the mandate and what did the Supreme Court say in that judgment? Candidates don’t make a difference in Nigeria’s elections, parties do.

Candidates don’t run in Nigeria’s election, parties do.

Which really was untrue and I know for a fact that a lot of judges at very senior levels had nothing to do with politics, but they were very unsettled with that judgment, but it came from the Supreme Court, therefore they had to comply with it. That set us off to the road where we are today.

By the time you are done with corrections of PDP overreach when the party was in power, what you are then left with was that judges had grabbed the right of the citizens and they decided that it was too sweet to let go and candidates were realising that you didn’t need to campaign to anybody.

Senator (name withheld) in Anambra North went to National Assembly three times, he never won any election, the man was never interested in winning any election; his style was after the election he would go and buy judges.

Three times he went to the National Assembly over 12 years without a vote in his favour; anyone who is from Anambra State knows his story, but he is not the only one. Why? Because judges now decide our elections and once the politicians realised this, they started planting their wives, their daughters and mistresses.

I could go on here; whose mistresses are in which place? Obviously the wives we know, but it is the mistresses that are very interesting. Who is sleeping with who and transporting people they are related with into the judiciary system, because you need your own judges there to have these decisions take place.

And we got to 2019 in Zamfara State. I must make it clear: I am not interested in APC, PDP discussion; it is that the ground rules have been completely altered and that means you cannot beat the incumbent because they would out-money you.

When the Supreme Court decided that you could have the idea of wasted votes, people sat down and we laughed over these things, but how can you waste the votes of citizens in a democracy? That is the biggest problem we have now; that judges are wasting the votes of citizens.

In Zamfara State, Matawalle lost every local government area, he didn’t win half, and judges sat down and thought because of pre-election matter, you could waste the votes of an entire state. That was another evolution in this process and now the doctrine of wasted votes came in and now judges are wasting the votes of people.

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The situation in Kano today is a scandal. Kano is an absolute scandal and you don’t have to be a supporter of any party to recognise that Kano is a ridiculous scandal.

Look at the map of what is happening, so that every one of us would understand that the judiciary has become a national security threat and I am not going to mince words about it.

There is also the case of Imo State; look at how Imo State descended from January 2020 to where we are now. Choose what you choose to believe about the recent off-cycle elections; in most parts of Imo West, Orlu senatorial zone, in most of the local governments, there were no elections.

INEC knows that they could not safely deploy election workers to most of the local governments in Imo State, certainly not in Orlu, not in much of Okigwe local government area.

Voting mostly took place in and around Owerri and then they wrote results for the remainder of the state. Why? Because judges did what they should not have done.

Now, Plateau State, where they are writing up new results with judgement, has been in trouble for a long time, certainly since 2001 and if you followed it well since 1994.

Zamfara State is one of the most intense killing grounds in Nigeria. Kano State nobody should mess around with. In three major theatres of the security crisis in Nigeria, judges have decided to take away the rights of the people and anyone who cares about the country should be worried.

Military commanders who have soldiers fighting in these theatres should be worried.

You know why? We have got three divisions tied down in the North East; we had that for 10 years. We have got two divisions equivalence tied down in the North West. We got the third division of the Nigerian army in Jos, six divisions out of eight all held down by crisis in these territories.

Zamfara in North East, Kano in North West, especially at the frontier between North West and North East, because if you get to Wudi, you would turn left and you are going to the North East.

In Jos Plateau in the North Central, judges are messing with the future of the country and very existence of the country and all of us are sitting down, particularly opposition politicians thinking this is going to end well. This is ugly and I’m not going to pretend about it, it is very existential and those who don’t understand the ramification should wake up.