Lagos governor urges Nigerians to stop casting aspersions on judiciary
.Agbakoba calls for creation of Electoral Offences Commission
The Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has urged Nigerians to desist from casting aspersions on the judiciary, no matter how they feel about the outcome of the legal process.
Sanwo-Olu made this call at the Nigerian Bar Association -Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA- SPIDEL) 2023 Conference.
In his opening remark, the governor who was represented the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin commended the chairman and members of the NBA-SPIDEL for their chosen theme which he said is timely.
Annual conference of the NBA SPIDEL themed, “Post Election Nigeria; The Judiciary in the Eye of the Storm”
He said in any democracy, the courts decision provides a will and opportunity for those who feel dissatisfied in an electoral contest to seek redress in the court of law.
According to him, “This major provision in the constitution is aimed at preventing a breakdown of law and order arising from those who may be aggrieved by the outcome of the elections.
“I commend all political parties and major actors in the just concluded elections for choosing to tred the path of the rule of law and constitutionality by approaching the relevant Election Petition Tribunals to seek redress.
“By this singular and very significant action, our country is on the verge of joining the league of civilized countries in the world where democracy and the rule of law have been entrenched.
“The decision by all parties in the electoral process to explore the legal option which I believe must be the only option to a large extent, is a reflection of the confidence reposed in the judiciary to dispense justice fairly and equitably.
“As a result , all eyes are now fixated on the members of various tribunals who like caser’s wife are expected to be above board and give decisions that have been brought before them without fear or favour.”
The Lagos governor further stated that, it is heartwarming to note that the conference has brought together the bar and the bench and critical stakeholders in the civil society organization among other notable personalities who he said he believe will engage in this passionate discussion of all the issues that have been outlined with a view to propelling solutions that will further aid the judiciary as the last hope in the Electoral process
“It is however important to emphasize the need for us as citizens especially we in the political class, to accept the judgement of the court in good fate after exhausting the options guaranteed by the constitution. We must also refrain from casting aspersions on the judiciary no matter how we feel about the outcome of the legal process.
“Doing otherwise will amount to running down a key institution charged with the responsibility of upholding the sanctity of the rule of law and democracy. I strongly believe that our collective energy should be channeled towards pushing for necessary reforms that will address the challenge’s militating against the evolution of the Judiciary and our collective desire”
He therefore appreciates to the chairman and and members of the NBA-SPIDEL for remaining steadfast in discharging the mandate of projecting public interest through the annual flagship conference of the NBA.
Speaking at the same event, the former president of the NBA, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did its work properly, then there will be no petition against it.
He that one of the issues facing the country is the lack of internal democracy within the parties. Noted that If there was transparent internal democracy, it will be hard to do “mago mago”.
The learned silk noted that he had recommended that the work of INEC should be like the job of a “referee with a whistle” who is not concerned about marking the field or the team or making sure that the nets are in good shape.
According to him, the job of a referee is just the Whistle. INEC is Nigeria’s largest printing body charged with huge responsibilities. Because there are no consequences for bad behaviour, politicians generally speaking, are involved in “mago mago”.
He added that if these politicians are not checked then the “mago mago” will continue. He therefore recommended,” an Electoral Offences Commission Separate from what we have but that has not been done.
“The National Assembly since the death of the late Musa Ya’radua had sat on the report of Justice Uwais panel. So, if we are criticizing the judiciary remember that it is because of the failings of politicians,” he said
Agbakoba said that if we want a proper system removing the Judiciary from the theatre, then we must get it right
He also pointed out that lawyers are equally the problem in this regards.” a client could come to a lawyer who can visibbly see that the client has an hopeless case, yet such lawyer collects about N20 million knowing that the result from the Tribunal will be a failure.
He therefore notes that , “the foundation of an Electoral process will need to be built around a reformed electoral management body with INEC . INEC in its present form is overwhelmed with a lot of things.”
He said that the only way we can begin to talk about proper elections in 2027 is by unbundling new institutions.
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