The Joke Of A Supreme Court:

By Emmanuel Onwubiko 
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We are infallible because we are final; we are not final because we are infallible”. Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, Late Justice of the S C N”.

The supreme court of the United States of America is seen by the over 331.002.651 million (August 30th 2020) or so citizens of God's own Country with awe, veneration and a pristine state of applause”.

These epithets fittingly belong to the appreciation of the essence of the institution and persons making up the Supreme Court of the USA because of the illustrious character, integrity, credibility and personal and institutional achievements of the men and women who preside over high profile cases that shape the worldview of the greatest and strongest political entity in the world.

The selection of Justices of the Supreme Court of the USA is usually marked as a solemnity and is something no one toys about with just as the public are often involved in the pre-selection screening processes that the powerful United States congress usually adopts in determining who would be approved to proceed to sit on the bench of the supreme court of the United States of America.

The entire history of the nominees becomes public knowledge and on no account will you notice that a person with dubious character sails through the rigorous and sometimes politically rancorous congressional screenings of nominees to become justices of the highest judicial platform in the world’s most institutionalized constitutional democracy.

Nigerians have decidedly patterned the selections of their supreme court of Nigeria justices in the same way that the Americans did institutionalize. But ofcourse the typical 'Nigerian character of man know man' has taken the centre stage and we now see Children of the very rich elites being rewarded with judicial offices.

Besides, in Nigeria even with the near fool-proof provisions of the constitution that create the screening roles for the National Judicial Council, the office of the President and National Assembly, the nation has ended up turning up supreme court justices whose verdicts in the recent times have received widespread rejections for being patently unjustifiable and politically tainted.

The stroke that has broken the back of the Carmel is the judgement of the supreme court of Nigeria in the Imo State 2019 governorship poll in which the justices in their warped imagination canonized the person (Hope Uzodinma of APC) who was returned by INEC as number fourth to the first position thereby delivering a verdict that is both laughable and illogical and that is patently an unfair and an unjust verdict which favoured the ruling party of All Progressive Congress (APC). We will later analyse the position of one of Nigeria's most educated justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria who was the lone voice in the wilderness of mischief and near anarchic supreme court's panel that did the unthinkable in the Imo State 2019 governorship poll which upturned the well considered verdict of the electoral Commission which had returned Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic party as the rightful winner.

That charade of a judgment which one of the justices described as a historical nightmare has just been made the less of the two evils when you look at the verdict in the Kogi State Governorship poll in which an election that was adjudged as the most violent electoral exercise by the police of Nigeria has received the imprimatur of the supreme court of Nigeria. This verdict today has made the Supreme Court of Nigeria a joke of a judicial institution.

The Nigerian Supreme Court by their judgement in the Kogi State Governorship election has therefore opened the Pandora box of the impossible possibility which goes to show that winning election by any means possible is as good as justifiable if it gets to the supreme court of Nigeria.

Whilst we will delve into this supreme perfidy called Kogi State’s 2019 governorship poll verdict let us see what the police said about the election.

But first, can we read from the code of conduct for officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force as published by the then police inspector General Mr. Mohammed Abubakar.

This fine gentleman began his code of conduct by quoting Francis Bacon thus: “He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.”

The former IGP identified the vision of the office of the IGP as follows:“To make Nigeria safer and more secured for economic development and growth; to create a safe and secured environment living in Nigeria,* To partner with other relevant Security Agencies and the public in gathering, collating and sharing of information and intelligence with the intention of ensuring the safety and security of the country,*To participate in efforts to address the root causes of crime while ensuring that any criminal is brought to justice in a fair and professional manner."

These well articulated codes must have been jettisoned going by the sort of laughable policing strategies that are used by the current holder of the office of the IGP Mohammed Adamu who reportedly confessed knowing that the 2019 Kogi State governorship poll would be characterized by violence, but he stood by and did practically nothing until the incumbent governor who is a beloved political son of the current president was returned victorious by the incompetent independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The painful thing is that not just the IGP that adjudged that 2019 Kogi State's governorship poll as violent but even the police service commission totally stated that violence married the conduct of the election.

The electoral Commission had during the election declared some of their officials as missing and admitted that there were overwhelming cases of violence but eventually told Nigerians that the missing officials have been found just as INEC proceeded to announce a winner of an exercise that they admitted was characterised by violence and armed thuggery.

The violence got to a frightening level with the burning to death of the PDP’S women leader by APC thugs.

The Inspector-General Muhammad Adamu had stated that the police had a prior intelligence that the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa were going to be violent.

Residents of Kogi and Bayelsa voted to elect new governors on November 16 2019, and the outcome of the polls was deemed largely violent.

Both states recorded about a dozen deaths, but Kogi had by far the highest death toll, so reports the media substantially.

Observer groups that monitored the elections reported widespread acts of violence and vote racketeering amongst political parties.

Security agents, especially police officers, were also accused of either colluding with thugs to steal ballot boxes or actively participating in the disruption of polling units.

The police have pushed back against all allegations of misconduct by officers even when evidence abound to the contrary.

The Police Service Commission, which regulates the police as an independent government agency, also said police officers managed the elections well and cleared them of misconduct.

The PSC blamed insufficient manpower that allowed political thugs to overwhelm police officers and cause widespread chaos in Kogi .

Mr Adamu’s comments to State House reporters according to a news report largely echoed the conclusion of the PSC.

Mr Adamu said the police conducted a “threat assessment of the two states and we realised that there was going to the violence in two states.”

The police chief recalled some violent events that occurred in the run up to the elections that gave the police a fair idea of what would happen on Election Day.

“Because, during the campaigns, we saw how the opponents were fighting themselves, so we prepared so much for that,” Mr Adamu said shortly after a State House meeting of security chiefs with President Muhammadu Buhari. “During one of the stakeholders meeting, I went to Kogi with the chairman of INEC and I also went to Bayelsa.”

The Inspector-General Muhammad Adamu said the police had a prior intelligence that the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa were going to be violent.

Residents of Kogi and Bayelsa voted to elect new governors on November 16, and the outcome of the polls was deemed largely violent. Both states recorded about a dozen deaths, but Kogi had by far the highest death toll.

Observer groups that monitored the elections reported widespread acts of violence and vote racketeering amongst political parties. Security agents, especially police officers, were also accused of either colluding with thugs to steal ballot boxes or actively participating in the disruption of polling units.

The police have pushed back against all allegations of misconduct by officers. The Police Service Commission, which regulates the police as an independent government agency, also said police officers managed the elections well and cleared them of misconduct.

The PSC blamed insufficient manpower that allowed political thugs to overwhelm police officers and cause widespread chaos in Kogi .

The Police Service Commission (PSC) has said armed thugs significantly disrupted Saturday’s gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa because police officers were stretched beyond capacity.

The PSC said officers deployed for the exercise were professional in their conduct, in an apparent dismissal of widespread evidence of officers’ collusion with thugs for financial reward.

The PSC observed that the officers “were professional in their conduct during the elections,” spokesperson Ikechukwu Ani said in a statement.

But “the activities of illegal armed men over stretched the capacity of these officers to protect the voters and the electoral materials.”

The PSC said it deployed officials to monitor police conduct in both states on Saturday, during which it covered five out of six senatorial districts that make up the two states.

The police said 66,241 officers were deployed for the exercise in Kogi and Bayelsa.

Still, widespread violence marred the elections so widely reported in the media of mass communication.

Journalists and observer groups indicted police officers as complicit in the violence.

In some cases, officers were seeing actively taking part in ballot box stuffing and snatching, while in others they stood watch as armed thug’s unleashed violence on voters.

YIAGA Africa, a public policy think-tank, said its observers confirmed cases of police officers taking cash bribes at polling units in Kogi.

The level of violence in Kogi prompted civic groups that monitored it to call for a cancellation of the governorship election, saying it lacked any measure of credibility.

Still, the electoral commission, INEC, went on to announce incumbent Yahaya Bello winner of the election.

In its preliminary report, the PSC excused police officers for whatever shortcomings they might have been involved with in the exercise.

“The interim report of the commission indicates that the police were very professional despite numerous challenges in the two states.

“The strong monitoring team of the commission to the two states observed the over proliferation of illegal weapons, inadequate logistics and challenging terrains as militating factors,” Mr Ani said.

The commission urged the police to take urgent steps to recover arms in possession of thugs in both states in the aftermath of the election.

With this compromised report it is clear that the Police Service Commission is effectively in the pockets of the violent actors in politics. How can such an idiotic report emanate from the so called ombudsmen of the Police in Nigeria if not that they were financially induced to turn in such a poor report? You said police acted professionally, yet you said armed thugs overpowered the Police as if the Police are boys brigade who operated with ordinary sticks.

The Independent National Electoral Commission confirmed that the election was marred by violence resulting in the kidnapping of their officials just as it said that all the 30 ad hoc staff engaged for the Kogi State governorship election in Olamaboro Local Government Area have been found.

The commission said they are safe, sound and back in their respective homes.

The Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, made this known while reacting to a news report that 30 of its officers were missing.

He said, “We can now confirm that all the 30 ad hoc staff engaged for the 2019 Kogi governorship election and posted to Polling Units 002, 006 and 013 at Olamaboro III; and Polling Units 006, 012, 015, 016, 022 at Imani 1 all in Olamaboro LGA have been accounted for.

They are safe, sound and back in their respective homes. The chairman of the commission has personally spoken with some of them and they confirmed that they are hale and hearty.

INEC confirmed violence in the Kogi state governorship election when the commission stated that: “These election-day duty staff could not be accounted for initially following the violent attacks by some armed thugs at their respective duty posts after the close of polls.

“The commission has established that none of them was either injured or killed. They were able to successfully conclude the result collation process before the commotion started.

“The collated election results at LG level are now being announced at the State Collation Centre at the commission’s State Office in Lokoja.”

Yet, both INEC, the Police got compromised to allow for the groundswell of mother of all compromises at the Supreme Court of Nigeria which today delivered what is easily the worst judgment of the century.

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed an appeal brought against the re-election of yahaya Bello of the all progressives’ congress (APC) and affirmed him the governor of Kogi state.

The appeals were filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Musa Wada, and the Social Democratic Party and its candidate, Natasha Akpoti.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Mr Bello as the winner of the governorship election held in November 2019.

But in a unanimous judgement on Monday, a seven-member panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Mohammed, held that both appeals lack merit and subsequently dismissed them.

These principles are my approach as a judge. They have guided me when in the courtroom and when my decisions. I do not have a political platform nor represent a sectional constituency. Right or left, religious or secular, rich or poor, man or woman, disabled and non-disabled all are equal in my eyes." So ruled Muhammad Tanko. But we know that this is not justice but broad daylight robbery with the judicial pen.

However, like one judge in Nigeria said, “Duty and veneration (that) combine to give pride of place to the judiciary”, but in the verdict by this Supreme Court of Nigeria which upheld a violent election as valid, we now know that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has failed in both duty and veneration.

As Lord Mansfield C.J... Continued and spoke on the judicial office in these majestic tones.

I will not do that which my conscience tells me is wrong, upon this occasion to gain the huzzahs of thousands or the daily praise of the papers which comes from the press, I will not avoid doing what I think is right thought is should draw on me the whole artillery of libels, all that falsehood and malice can invent or the credulity of a deluded populace can swallow....Once and for all it be understood, that no endeavours of this kind will influence any man at present sits here (on the bench)."

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has failed to keep to the above mantra of Lord Manfield.

This same court of jesters had In dismissing the application the cross appeal of then governor Emeka Ihedioha, the justices with the majority judgment include the CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amina Augie and Uwani Abba-Aji, made way for a Justice of the court with a conscience to state that what they did in making number 4 to become number 1 in Imo state is evil.

But in his dissenting judgment, Justice Nweze held that a judgment or order can be set aside on merit. He said the apex court has the power to overrule itself and has done so in the past.

Mr Justice Nweze was not part of the original seven-member panel that nullified Mr Ihedioha’s election on January 14.

He was added to the panel in place of Amiru Sanusi, who retired from the apex court in January.

In giving his dissenting judgment on, Mr Nweze nullified the declaration of Mr Uzodinma as governor on account of the wrong declaration.

He held that Mr Uzodinma mischievously misled the court into unjust conclusion with the unverified votes credited to him in the disputed 388 polling units.

In my intimate reading of the January 14 judgment, the meat and substance of Ihedioha’s matter were lost to time frame. This court once set aside its own earlier judgment and therefore cannot use the time frame to extinguish the right of any person.

“This court has powers to overrule it and can revisit any decision not in accordance with justice,” he said.

According to Mr Nweze, “The decision of the Supreme Court in the instant matter will continue to haunt our electoral jurisprudence for a long time to come.”

He added that without evidence of meeting other constitutional provisions, the court misled itself into declaring Mr Uzodinma as governor.

The judge said that Mr Uzodinma and his party misled the court to accept the allegedly excluded results in 388 polling units without indicating the votes polled by other political parties.

He also faulted the results from the said polling units without indicating the number of accredited voters in the polling units.

Mr Nweze recalled how Mr Uzodinma, during the election tribunal, admitted that he hijacked the result sheets from the electoral umpire officials and completed the result sheets by himself.

He said such results could not be valid without indicating the number of accredited voters.

“This court has a duty of redeeming its image, it is against this background that the finality of the court cannot extinguish the right of any person.

I am of the view that this application should succeed. I hereby make an order repealing the decision of this court made on January 14 and that the certificate of return issued to the appellant returned to INEC”.

I also make an order restoring the respondents as the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election,” Mr Nweze said in his minority ruling which was, however, overruled by the majority decision”.

The same Supreme Court of Nigeria under the current hierarchy has just added to its infamy but allowing the Kogi State's governorship poll with bloody violence to be validated. The judgment of posterity will be very harsh on these bunches of Justices that have unleashed this extensive scale of injustices on a bewildered nation.

Who shall climb this mountain of infamy and rescue the Supreme Court of Nigeria from its self inflicted reputational quagmire?

**COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:
NATIONAL COORDINATOR HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA). [email protected] www. theingerianinsidernews.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com, [email protected]

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