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Legitimizing electoral malpractice

In Nigerian politics the “norms” are anything but normal. Take our electioneering for example. In saner climes electioneering comprises rallies in which candidates make speeches…

In Nigerian politics the “norms” are anything but normal. Take our electioneering for example. In saner climes electioneering comprises rallies in which candidates make speeches outlining their programs and solutions to current problems. Attentive crowds hang on to their every word ready to challenge any illogical assertions or impracticable solutions.
In Nigeria it’s a different ball game. Totally bereft of ideas, policies or philosophy our political class have turned rallies into entertainment events. “Supporters” gaily dressed in political asebi are entertained with bland slogans, much dancing and tomfoolery, by  musicians and comedians.  In most cases the biggest comedians are the candidate themselves!
After this public charade the real business of electioneering moves into private residences where vast sums are exchanged to purchase arms and ammunitions, bribe officials and pay for hoodlums – all in the name of being recognized as a “leader” who can “deliver” his area. The resultant death, maiming, destruction of property, and carnage are regular features of the elections and unfortunately things are not about to change any time soon.  By virtue of the judgement in the Rivers and Akwa Ibom State elections, the Supreme Court has condoned this primitive and barbaric electoral culture. 
The whole world witnessed the carnage of those elections and by upholding the results the apex Court has made Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of democratic nations. It would have been so easy to condemn the conduct of the elections as did both the Electoral Tribunal and the Court of Appeal but instead Supreme Court in its wisdom choose to “spit on the graves of those who were killed” by upholding the corrupted electoral processes.
The rulings which declared the election valid regardless of the irregularities and human casualties is a slap in the face of justice in the nation.  In one fell swoop all the gains previously made in the conduct of elections have been reversed. The Justices of the Supreme Court appear oblivious to the fact that they have brought the judiciary into disrepute.
For a case which was lost in the tribunal and lost in the Court of Appeal, to be won in the Supreme Court is a clear signal that we should not regard any judgement of any lower Court as being correct or lawful and that we can only expect justice if we have the humongous amounts of money required to prosecute cases to the Supreme Court. 
In its defence the Supreme Court said they would not ordinarily interfere with the concurrent findings of two lower courts unless it was shown that the verdicts were “perverse or not based on the proper and dispassionate appraisal of evidence or that there was an error either of fact or law which occasioned the miscarriage of justice”. This is an outright condemnation of the lower courts.
The Head of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Committee Professor Itse Sagay has called it a dangerous precedence in the history of elections. In his opinion the rulings have set the clock of electoral excellence and credibility back to where we were before the advent of former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof Attahiru Jega.
It’s common knowledge that there were no credible elections in those two states. Television pictures showed live shootings and disruptions of opposition political rallies. What could possibly have made the Supreme Court close its eyes to the unchallenged evidence tendered and the statements of INEC officials which clearly showed cases of fraudulent and multiple signing of result sheets and mutilation and alteration of results?
According to the apex court any petitioner who complains of non-compliance with the electoral act has an onerous task for he must prove it polling unit by polling unit, ward by ward. This is absurd. The fact that it isn’t possible to prove within the 90 day time limit that elections guidelines were not followed in all polling units appears lost on them. Professor Sagay alleges that those who occupy seats in the Supreme Court are no longer of the requisite calibre. In the old days the culture in the Supreme Court was one in which justice was seen as superior to the law.  In his opinion we now have people who divorce law from justice and are concerned with upholding the technicalities of the law rather than dispensing justice.
As a result of the Supreme Court judgements one thing has been made very clear. Anyone contesting elections should do everything within their power legally or otherwise to be sworn in, because after that the Court will uphold the status quo. In deciding between justice for the appellant and the defendant the Supreme Court completely forgot about justice for the nation and justice for the dead. This dubious and ridiculous judgement is a travesty of justice which has cleared the path for fight to finish elections.

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