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Reviewing the power of those who interpret our votes

Those who vote decide nothing. Those who decide the vote decide everything. Let us pity the people of Yobe North Senatorial District and their Akwa…

Those who vote decide nothing. Those who decide the vote decide everything.

Let us pity the people of Yobe North Senatorial District and their Akwa Ibom North West counterparts who have extraneous senatorial candidates imposed on them in the upcoming Senatorial polls. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has decided to impose the senatorial candidates they did not choose on them.

Neither Ahmed Lawan nor Godswill Akpabio, court-appointed winners, were legal aspirants under their party’s arrangement but the Supreme Court has made them beneficiaries. With this judgment, which cannot be appealed, there is hope that one day a man sitting in his hovel could be awarded an electoral victory by a Nigerian court of law.  

If you think this is preposterous, then you are either not a Nigerian or you do not believe in the benevolence of the judiciary in allotting electoral victories to those who either did not contest or were seen to be far removed from winning elections. Yahya Bello, the governor of Kogi State is a living testimony. He posed his candidature to the Kogi governors race and failed. Abubakar Audu, the substantive governor who ‘won’ the real poll died before he could be sworn in leaving his running mate, James Faleke. Rather than declare his running mate beneficiary or order fresh elections, the courts handpicked Bello from the reserve bench. A runoff put a stamp of authority on the judicial recklessness and Bello has been smiling in Lugard House since then. He even ‘won’ a second term on his own terms! 

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With the Nigerian judiciary, nothing is impossible. A cruise down memory lane would confirm this. It is fast becoming fad in our pseudo-democracy that the people have the vote and the judges decide who they ought to have elected. It was so in Anambra with Peter Obi. The saga was repeated in Edo between Adams Oshiomole and Osareimhen Osunbor. Then it revived in Imo State between Hope Uzodimma and Emeka Ihedioha. Lately in Osun, the same scenario recurred in the case between Ademola Adeleke and his predecessor Adegboyega Oyetola.

In each of the cases mentioned supra, the logical winner is as clear from the options as day is from night but the courts determined otherwise and expected us to say – as the court pleases. Logic would have dictated that where an election takes place, and the umpire failed either by commission or omission to count votes properly or make the votes count; the courts adjudicate on the matter in a manner that makes both legal and logical sense.  

A good way of measuring that is for any errant umpire or its agents to be chastised for the usurpation of the people’s will and dereliction of duty. Indeed, forbidding such agents from ever supervising future polls would be a right decision. Another logical expectation would be the outright cancellation of either the entire electoral process for a fresh one or ordering a re-election in areas of conflict.

For in these instances, it is not the aspirants that were wronged per se, but the people. It would have been logical to return their rights to them. If that had happened, the people could have decided on punishing the thieving candidate by either voting en-masse for his opponent or voting right. Only the people have the exclusive rights to determine what electoral punishment is best meted to those who attempt to subvert their supreme will.

However, in the eyes of the justices in all the instances cited above, they handpicked for the voters. In the Kogi instance, they gifted a mandate to an unworthy recipient via judicial allocation. That would sound preposterous to the rational mind, but milords have superior or in nascent circumstances – supreme privilege to decide otherwise.

In all the instances above, except the case of Kogi where the man who did not buy the lottery ticket won the jackpot, both the beneficiary of the judisharing of votes and the usurper of the electoral process were prima facie contestants. This is what makes the latest judisharing of the candidature of the two senatorial seats in favour of Lawan and Akpabio disgustingly ludicrous – at least to the unlearned.

The utter desperation of Ahmed Lawan, and Godswill Akpabio are not unknown to Nigerians. They have eternally benefitted from politics all their adult lives that nothing else makes sense. Lawan represents Yobe North at the Senate; he is also the current president of the upper chamber. He is a perpetual lawmaker representing an educationally disadvantaged state with no determined contender and an unapologetic establishment man.

Akpabio enjoyed two terms as governor of Akwa Ibom State before retiring to the Senate where he was minority leader under the PDP before defecting to the majority party, APC. To remedy that, he crossed the floor and earned himself a bow-and-go ministerial appointment from which he had to eventually resign.

Both of these men decided to take their career a notch higher by picking the presidential nomination form of their party knowing that if they failed, they would have to return to the back of the queue. Except that they had a phoney arrangement to have aides pick forms with the hope that they would relinquish if their higher ambitions failed. It was a clear case of shooting at the moon with the hope of at least downing a star.

Lawan tried to silence all the other contestants by colluding with his party chairman, Abdullahi Adamu who single-handedly declared him the president’s choice, a coup that failed. As things panned out, both Bashir Machina and Udom

Ekpudom, the so-called aides refused to relinquish the nominations they won purportedly for their different ‘principals’. This was the case before the courts.

The ‘nameplate holder’ candidates won the primaries but have now lost to a judisharing formula that is fast becoming an ugly feature of the third arm of government. To conscientious Nigerians, the rulings are preposterous. We rightly believed that the duo was robbed in court.

In their separate rulings, Justice Kekere-Ekun and Justice C.C Nweke, the Supreme Court decided to bequeath the senatorial potentials rightly won by Machina and Ekpudom who were legitimate candidates to Lawan and Akpabio who were not.  

These strings of obvious judicial recklessness have angered logical observers of what is fast becoming fad in the political arena. Many editorials and opinion pieces have been written criticising these judgments along with the latest ex-parte pronouncement by the apex court on the redesign and redistribution of the naira.  

While courts are not there to bend to popular opinion in abnegation of the facts before them, the judiciary loses its respect where it makes orders that turn logic on its head. These pronouncements fall within those parameters. It is worrying because the Supreme Court is the last judicial bus stop except in extraneous circumstances where it overrules itself based on error in judgment or precedent.  

The average man on the street believes that where an electoral infraction has been made, a logical way to address the breach is to order a rerun. Anything short of that is considered an abuse of logical process and procedure. There is room for improvement.


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