Nigeria’s judiciary has not lived up to expectation, according to Mike Igini, former Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akwa Ibom State.
He said this while reacting to some pronouncements of the apex court.
Igini, who featured on an ARISE TV programme, recounted some judicial pronouncements which sparked controversies in the past.
“For instance, the June 12 crisis, look at how the judiciary itself was used to truncate it. In a letter signed for the annulment of June 12 in 1993, the military government of the day declared that they had to annul the June 12 election to avert judicial anarchy.
“In 2007, the presidential ballot papers were not serialized, the matter went to court and eventually the election was declared valid. It took a President Yar’Adua of blessed memory to acknowledge that the election was flawed. Recall I wrote that the 2007 election without the ballot paper being serialized should be annulled. But it took a vote of just one justice of the Supreme Court to affirm such a process that represents the lowest level of democratic discredit.”
He also commented on the Supreme Court judgements in favour of Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
The Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal upheld the duo of Bashir Machina and Udom Ekpoudom elections as the validly nominated flag bearers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the senatorial district polls in Yobe and Akwa Ibom states, respectively.
But the Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the two lower courts and held that they were wrong to have assumed jurisdiction in the suit, since the issue of candidate nomination lies with political parties.
The apex court subsequently dismissed Ekpoudom and Machina, as authentic candidates of the APC, for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, and Yobe North Senatorial District.
Commenting, Ignin said, ”It’s a tragedy in our country that days to the elections, we are still talking about party primaries issues that ought to have been dealt with months ago. The judiciary, which should be the last line of defense of democracy and the rule of law historically, has not lived up to expectation.
“I’m worried and I’ve said it over time even before the judgement, that Nigeria will die because of lack of commitments of all the members of the bar and bench to the survival of our democracy. We need a fearless judiciary that will stand tall and mighty in defence of democracy and the rule of law.
“Two kinds of corruption must be avoided; the corruption of judicial officer, and the corruption in the institution of the judiciary by way of the people trying to intimidate the judiciary, pressure the judiciary and do all kinds of things.
“Our quest for a fearless and courageous and independent judiciary, will be meaningless and hopeless if we do not also protect very courageous judges that will stand tall and call justice by their own names.”