By Clem Aguiyi
Our democracy is in trouble and there is no point pretending that all is well with our Judiciary. Our electoral jurisprudence rather than improving to give us justice in our election appears to be creating more road blocks. We must be careful, for if we lose the courts, we lose everything including the nation.
It’s a shame that our politics is now characterized by widespread fraud with extensive judicial dimension. With the aid of willing judicial officers, the consent and will of the people are undermined, thus making nonsense of John Locke thesis on democracy as a system where the people by their consent and mandate chose their leaders. It was never intended in democracy that the court or panel of judges will replace the sovereign power of the people.
‘Now in Nigeria, rather than vote or be voted for, the new wisdom is: Don’t waste your time campaigning. Don’t waste your time throwing away your money printing bill boards , handbills or posters. Don’t waste your time hiring consultants? Don’t waste your money on television or radio adverts. Don’t waste your efforts and money on mobilization. Forget about the voters, there votes don’t count. Just keep your money in the bank or where ever and call one smart lawyer to tell you all the loopholes in the Constitution and the Electoral Act . Memorize the loopholes and give all the money to a willing judge who may not even have a jurisdiction. Tell him you have gotten all the loopholes the opponents have flouted . And I bet you -thanks to rigging through the courts you shall win at the end’.
Because of the activities of political scammers and their judicial accomplices, Nigeria has earned the dubious reputation for muddled election and criminal politics. Vote buying, electoral violence , ballot box snatching , stuffing of ballot boxes, inflation of votes, bribery of electoral officers , mutilation of results, manipulation of results are no longer the vogue. The real deal is rigging through the courts.
Ordinarily , the courts are there to adjudicate on electoral disputes in a manner that gives hope and restores the confidence of the common man in democracy and the justice system. This sacred duty of interpreting the law, the constitution and Electoral Act is a duty vested in the courts by the Constitution. Ironically, this is a duty the courts are failing woefully because we now have lousy and corrupt judges who have injected themselves into criminal political enterprise thus making the bastion of democracy an institution of ridicule. Nigerians are no longer happy. If judges continue on this inglorious path the nation risk loosing everything.
The case of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah v Obinna Uzoh is a study in criminal politics and a classical example of how political con men are scamming themselves into power using the courts. More disappointing because Obinna Uzoh ordinarily is a man with good standing with the Church. Before now I consider him a good christian Catholic who kept the Commandments. .
Not only is Obinna a frequent church goer who shares in regular communion, here was a man that single handedly used his fortune to build a Cathedral for his people. He has given to the poor and done a couple of other charities.
But as the saying goes , ‘Only vouch for the dead for the living could disappoint’. Why will the lust for power change a good man?
How can Obinna Uzoh claim he was the candidate of PDP for Anambra South Senatorial Zone knowing he was never on the ballot? Where was Obinna Uzoh when Chris Ubah was at the Election Petition Tribunal as PDP candidate challenging the victory of Dr Ifeanyi Ubah up to the Appeal Tribunal?
Why did Obinna suppress the fact that his suit challenging the emergence of Chris Ubah as PDP candidate was dismissed by a competent court which validated the candidature of Chief Chris Ubah? Obinna Uzoh never appealed against this judgment, which means the judgement subsists to date.
For starters, the February 23, 2019, National Assembly election for Anambra South Senatorial was a contest between Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah of YPP , Chief Chris Uba of PDP , Dr Andy Ubah of APC and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu of APGA. At the end of the Contest, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah of YPP was returned by INEC as validly elected based on the lawfully counted votes.
His victory was challenged by the APC and PDP candidates, being the Ubah brothers at the Tribunal and Appeal Tribunal which variously validated his victory as Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial Zone.
In the Senate , Senator Ubah is representing well and his people are happy with his representation and even ready to send him to a higher assignment.
Now surfaced Obinna Uzoh with a kangaroo judgement purportedly procured some months back. Interestingly, Dr Ubah had no idea about the court process that determined his fate. He was never put on notice nor served the court processes. Everything about this dirty case was done between Obinna and the Judge.
One of the cardinal pillars of the rule of law is fair hearing. Dr Ubah was not given a chance to defend himself on the lone issue that he forged the NECO certificate he submitted to INEC. According to Obinna and his procurred Judge, the Certificate was forged because the F9 Ubah obtained in Biology as reflected in his Statement of Result was omitted in the Original Certificate.
If indeed Ubah forged his NECO Certificate, I will agree with the court decision to disqualify him . I will also call on the police to arrest him and put him on trial for felony. I will recommend he serves maximum sentence upon conviction. But in this instance, he did no wrong. He didn’t forge his NECO Certificate. The Certificate is authentic. And was duly issued by the examination body. The certificate is the property of NECO and only NECO is competent to speak on the authenticity of the certificate. Not Obinna nor his judge. Did the judge bother to verify from NECO before wrongly determining that the certificate was forged because the F9 Ubah scored in Biology which reflected in his Statement of Result, did not also reflect in his NECO certificate.
The court ought to have taken judicial notice of the fact that NECO and WAEC being public institution and as a matter of policy and practice do not reflect F9 (Fail) in Certificates issued to candidates as opposed to the content of Statements of Results which contains grades for both passed and failed papers? Very recently, when some busybodies raised similar questions on the omission of F9 in the certificate presented to President Buhari by WAEC prior to the 2019 General Election, the examination body explained this policy, that it does not reflect failed subjects in Certificates issued to candidates. Why this very judge fell for this scam remains a mystery and a puzzle.
The National Judicial Institute has a lot of job to do with the retraining of our judges to keep them abreast and updated because of their dwindling intellectual capacity which has become a national embarrassment. NJC must not hesitate to remove lousy and corrupt judges from the bench. Only sound and brilliant judges should be appointed to our superior courts. NJC must have the courage to implement intelligent monitoring system to measure performance of judges, especially those assigned with political and corruption cases.