ON-GOING LEGAL BATTLE AT EDO ELECTION PETITIONS TRIBUNAL: A LITMUS TEST FOR NIGERIAN JUDICIARY---Justice R.I Amaize (Rtd)
The word of caution embedded in dis write-up and which is it's meat would not have been necessary in the distant past in our nation's history when the Nigerian judiciary was seen as largely corruption-free and could hold its own in the comity of judiciaries across the globe. At that time, it was, like Ceaser's wife, above reproach.
Today, the beauties of those yster-years in the foregoing regard are gone. One however only hope they have not irretrievably gone; that something could still be done to salvage the situation. It's quite sad just as it is greatly lamentable to note that some men and women of the bench adorned with the white wig with all it's aural, without baiting an eyelid, have opted for the suicidal mission of recklessly deriding their enormous vested judicial powers with all the pride, honour and dignity appertaining thereto.
This they do by trading away same for illegally and shamefully collected naira and kobo; what may at best in eye of someone who has honour pass for a mere pot of portage. Dis is generally so in almost all cases coming before them but more prevalent in election-related disputations which, in contemporary Nigeria, are clearly seen by the disputants involved in d unholy act as well as the shameless judges involved as representing honey pot, though equally unholy it is. The reason for dis sad state of affair is not far-fetched; it is simply due to the desperation and win-at-all costs posture of the average Nigerian politician.
To such politician these shameless judicial officers do not only fall easy prey but find as co-dwellers in d unholy theatre of election manipulations. One would have thought that politicians and their hirelings could (if they so desire) go out there and with or without the connivance of authority and/or officials of the electoral umpire rig an election as much as they can in favour of any particular candidate.
One would have thought too that where that happens, as a direct consequence of such unholy act, the beneficiary of it will sooner than later meet his fate at d Election Petitions Teibunal. Sadly however, what we do commonly see are upholding of elections dat had been poorly conducted and roundly condemned and conversely the overturning of elections adjudged as credible. These often result, where and when some less than credible Judges appointed to oversee such important cases, work hand in glove with any politician involved found to be the higher bidder. After all, as they say, he who pays the piper dictates the tune (and I will add also to tone).
Now back to the Edo guber case which is the meat of dis message. I do not know which between the two major political parties in their allegations and counter allegations as to rigging or no rigging that were awash in the media spoke the truth. I'm not seised of the facts. I could not have been bcos beyond the role of a mere voter, I played no other role. However (this is the crux of the matter) the panelists who have the singular privilege of having the facts placed before them, when they will, and upon those facts and relevant legal prescriptions decide, must fall back on, and be guided by, their God-given consciences to do justice in the case.
They must not dare God by embarking on any form of judicial heresy. If the facts show that the man declared actually won the election, they must dutifully so find and courageously so hold. Conversely, if the facts prove that he did not win and he was wrongly declared the winner, the same call of duty must be answered to so find and to also so courageously declare. Admittedly, the offer of money is known to be pivotal amongst all temptations that are very difficult by mere mortals to resist. This may well be so but in the instant case, I urge the panelists to reject any offer of bribe offered, if offered and regardless of its nature and frm who.
They must remember as one of the injunctions in and frm the holy scriptures that a bribe blinds the eye. Edo pple are expectant that a Daniel will come to judgment and that they will surely drink frm the cup of Justice at the end of it all as they most desire. Here therefore lies the truism that this case, more than anyone else, represents a litmus text for the nation's judiciary which is currently struggling very hard to regain its image that has been so badly battered by some of its misguided functionaries. It's hoped that it'll take this unique opportunity to commence the journey towards the attainment of such noble goal. God bless Edo State