Group Lauds the Nullification of the First Amendment to the Constitution and the Delta State Poll's
The news of the two nullifications is a welcome development not only to us but also to the true lovers of democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria and beyond her shores. But delivering a judgment in an election matter three years and six months after the usurper
of the Delta State Governorship Throne wrongfully assumed office is a clear case of bastardized and failed system. Also the involvement of law professors, who are bestowed with the highest title in the inner Bar, called Senior Advocate of Nigeria; in election rigging is very alarming and shocking. Yesterday, it was Professor Oseirethen Osunbor, SAN, in Edo State as usurper governor, today; it is Professor Amos Utuama, SAN, in Delta State as usurper deputy-governor.
Where has the nobility attached to the Nigerian legal profession gone to? And what will these professors of law profess in law classrooms where they traditionally belong? If not for our failed system, is it not correct to say that by now, these professors of law and Senior Advocates of Nigeria will be rotting in jail for committing or abetting electoral offences? According to the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal, which delivered the grossly belated judgment, INEC should organize a fresh governorship poll within 90days, meaning that the election must hold before 9 th day of February 2011, which is less than four months to the end of the four-year tenure under contention and almost the time for fresh election into the said tenure, that is Delta State Governorship Seat.
Assuming this re-run election is conducted and Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan rigs and 'wins' again, the Deltans run the risk of going to the poll for two governorship polls in two or three months, that is if the re-run is held by December 2010 or January 2011. And what if some parties felt aggrieved and headed back to courts over the pitfalls of the re-run, can such matters be decided in a month or two before the May 2011 handover to the fresh mandates' recipients? Also, assuming Dr. Uduaghan is again declared in error as the winner of the re-run, whereas someone else won but was rigged out, and he or she headed back to court to recover his or her stolen mandate, along the line, a fresh election is conducted into the same office for a fresh term while the matter concerning the unresolved re-run is yet to be decided, what becomes the fate of the presumed winner and those that genuinely voted for him or her? Will the electoral court stop the fresh poll from holding or throw out the pending suit? Is such court empowered legally to stop a constitutionally backed fresh poll? Let the Nigerian Judiciary provide answers to these questions.
With this grossly belated judgment in Delta State, Intersociety is, again, vindicated over its position on the pendency of numerous election matters arising from the 2007 general elections, adjudged universally as the most roguish elections conducted in the history of Nigeria, at various divisions of the Court of Appeal . The foregoing notwithstanding , the judgment is a consolation prize for the people of Delta State, especially those whose sacred mandate was brutally subverted by the usurpers so mentioned.
On the other hand, we commend, unreservedly the Monday (08-11-2010) judgment by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided over by Honourable Justice Okechukwu Okeke, an illustrious son of Anambra State, over the controversial amendment to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, otherwise called 'the First Amendment to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999' and the brunt refusal of the National Assembly of Nigeria to transmit same to the Presidency for Presidential Assent. We wish to state that the judgment is elementarily sound, historic and generations-prone. The National Assembly acted beyond its bounds and exhibited gross parliamentary and legal mediocrity from the scratch. The two Chambers might have been carried away by the fact that some of their members are lawyers and social scientists, forgetting that even if the whole 469 of them belong to those professional fields, it does not remove the fact that 'committees of experts' are direly needed by any contemporary parliament for effective legislative business. Even in the Hallowed Chambers occupied by the 'most learned of all learned personnel' in the Bar, otherwise called the 'Bench', they still search for, or make provisions for 'Amicus Curiae', not to talk of the Hallowed Chambers peopled by 'educated', 'learned', 'informed' and 'literate'. The material costs of this futile exercise on our lean commonwealth purse are incalculable and the stigmatization brought to this country by same exercise is irremediable.
Despite the fact that the Presiding Judge, Honourable Justice Okechukwu Okeke, painstakingly offered satisfactory explanations to the effect that the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, formerly called Decree 24 of 1999, came by way of an Act, and the US Constitution of 1776, which possibly took off from 1789, and which the National Assembly of Nigeria was referring to, came by way of proclamation, the reaction of the National Assembly, especially the Senate Leadership, was incorrigibly pathological and amounted to a suicide- mission coded operation. Our question is: between the judiciary represented by the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, and the National Assembly, represented by the Senate Leadership, which of them is defending or protecting 'our democracy'? It is very surprising as to how 'a Bill for an Act to Amend or Alter Certain Sections of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999', which originated from the Presidency could not be returned back to Mr. President for statutory assent, in line with Section 58 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999. On the heels of the face-off between the National Assembly and the Presidency, our precious time would have been saved had the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, approached the Supreme Court for final determination of the matter, and resolution of the face-off. Unfortunately, the AGF chose to busy himself with national frivolities such as altercation with the leadership of the EFCC over the so-called 'National Advisory List'. Let it be placed on the record of the National Assembly of Nigeria that mere exercising of the 'right of appeal' cannot invalidate the holy verdict of a court of superior records. In other words, going on appeal against the historic decision of the Federal High Court does not remove the fact that the First Amendment to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 is null and void. This simply means that there is one and only 1999 Constitution until the Appellate or Apex Court says the contrary.
Also, going by this development, the present Electoral Act of 2010 cannot operate because its relevant provisions are grossly inconsistent with the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, except the amended versions are re-amended and brought back to fall in line with the mother-law, or the two, that is the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 and the Electoral Act of 2010 are subjected to fresh amendments or alterations to tally with each other, after which the two bodies of law will be forwarded to Mr. President for Presidential Assent. And if Mr. President refuses to assent after 30days, they will be passed by the National Assembly of Nigeria by two-thirds majority. These are the clear positions of our laws and the sooner we begin to abide by them the better for us.
Finally, it is our good advice to the National Assembly of Nigeria to rescind its right of appeal and focus on fresh amendments or return the said bodies of law to the status quo so that the electioneering project in vogue will go on unimpeded or without stampeding same. Let it be noted firmly that the National Assembly of Nigeria and the AGF shall be held liable should our hard-won democracy be truncated either by altering the May 2011 handover or by facilitating processes or circumstances that will give Nigeria and Nigerians another armada of electoral fraud.
Signed for: The Board of Trustees
International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi ( Chairman)