• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

    SUNDAY MUSINGS: Before Judiciary becomes Alternate INEC


    Jan 29, 2023

    By Innocent Okon

    In my beloved Nigeria, you don’t need to be a hard boiled Political Scientist to draw up a budget for an elective office.

    If you have seen or voted in any election, it’s like asking nursery school kids what alphabet ‘A’ stands for (apple, of course)! Perfunctorily, any street-wise guy with passing interest in politics will tell you that there are subheads of expenditure. They include, but not limited, to funds for consultations, security (euphemism for thuggery), intra-party elections, post-primaries’ litigations, the election proper (‘incentives’ for electoral officers and security operatives). Then a reasonable percentage of funds to prosecute post-election litigations to any judicial layer that the extant Electoral Act permits.

    Even when the people are behind you, your preferred Party may not go with you. When the Party and the electorates are in sync, you still have to contend with the umpires, INEC and Judiciary.

    Many are the afflictions of any and every politician that wants to serve in our clime!

    Incurable optimists jubilated and shouted Eldorado when the extant Electoral Act (as Amended) was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari. Some of them even used the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections to award generous points to INEC and some fraud “proof” provisions in the new Electoral Act.

    But with few weeks to national and state elections, another prayer point has emerged, which can’t be ignored or swept under the carpet! The Judiciary, which is the last constitutional last bus stop in validating the electoral process, may become the Frankenstein monster for politicians.

    Few weeks to the polls, the courts are still sacking elected candidates, and directing INEC on who should be on the ballot! Every judgement on electoral matter at the lower courts now must have the imprimatur of the apex court in the land before it is finally laid to rest!

    This is happening when we thought the troubles with elections in Nigeria were exclusively at the doorsteps of politicians, Political Parties and the regulatory Agency/the Law. If recent judgements from various layers of our Judicial system are anything to reckon with, some of us should be permitted and obliged to remain incurable pessimists!

    As an ‘ordained’ servant in the temple of Justice, I believe in law and order. I hate anarchy and the fascists’ rule of might is right! But am also humble enough to know and admit that whether in substantive or procedural laws (or both), human foibles do interfere. That’s why in many Supreme court judgments, some of the Justices in rare display of candour, would admit that their judgements are final, though not because they are infallible!

    As a man on the street, am still wondering how the result of an election, which hundreds of thousands laboured to participate in, would just be reversed on grounds of legal technicalities or professional inadequacies of man/ men/agency paid to do the job.

    As next month ushers in another round of elections, the Judiciary must convince us that law was made for man and not man for law. If Judicial officers can admit that they are infallible, they should also be humble enough to admit their limitations in the interpretation and application of every provision in the Electoral Act!

    Democracy suffers an incalculable deficit when popular verdicts at the polls are judicially reversed with the legal wisdom of three (at both Tribunal and Appeal courts ) and five (at Supreme court).

    In 2020, the Judiciary literally served and saved democracy in America for Americans and the free world. The next elections in Nigeria again puts the Judiciary on trial and nobody is inconsiderate if the physician is humbly implored to heal thyself!

    Okon, a journalist and laywer, lives in Uyo.

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