Supreme court’s injurious reasons for Abia
The Supreme Court gave two major reasons for its judgment on the contentious Abia Governorship seat. One, non recognition of the card reader by our law, to warrant its reliance for accreditation of voters, and two, non tendering of the voters register by polling units to prove a case of over voting. Yet the Supreme Court wittingly or mistakenly overlooked those cogent reasons and proved acts of election rigging, subversion of electoral process and miscarriage of justice that should have attracted the anger of their Lordships and subsequent punishment of the perpetrators of these unlawful acts.
Assuming without conceding that it was right for the Supreme Court to dismiss on technical basis the Otti/APGA cross appeal that sought to determine the power or otherwise of the Returning Officer to cancel elections when and where there was proven case of election malpractices and violence, was it also right for the Supreme Court not to overrule the Returning Officer who illegally reversed his earlier cancellation especially when details of the impunity that transpired during collation vis-a-vis the role of PDP leaders were brought to the knowledge of the court, without any objection from PDP and their candidate on this particular issue?
If the Supreme Court could accuse the Appeal Court of usurping the powers of INEC to cancel election, and went ahead to upturn the Appeal Court decision which declared Otti winner, what then stopped the Supreme court from upturning the decision of the Returning Officer, who was INEC personified, for violation of the electoral act, and for submitting to the violent dictate of the PDP in reversing a cancellation legitimately done before Local and International Journalists and election observers?
In the Rivers matter, outside the claimed illegal constitution of the Tribunal, the major reason for which Dakuku Peterside’s case was dismissed and Nyeson Wike’s election upheld was because of Supreme Court’s claim that Wike and PDP were not given fair hearing at the lower Tribunal, by virtue of the said unlawful dismissal of the over hundred page document tendered by him and his party; but APGA and Alex Otti suffered worst form of denial of fair hearing at the same lower Tribunal when the Usman Bwala-led three-man panel calamitously misunderstood the case and held that APGA and Otti took part in a rerun and subsequently went ahead to dismiss their prayers on that premise.
The same tribunal misunderstood the prayers of APGA and Otti regarding where elections should be cancelled, and insisted that APGA and Otti cannot approbate and reprobate, (cannot be asking for cancellation and the same time be praying to be declared winners). This was also blunderous, as the petitioners called for the cancellation of results of three out of the 17 L.G.As, and not the result of the entire election as the Tribunal misrepresented.
At the appeal court, Justice Omoleye panel was very thorough in diagnosing what transpired at the Lower Tribunal and detected clearly to the admission of all parties that APGA and Otti never approbated and reprobated (never prayed for total cancellation while asking to be declared winners).
Interestingly, the Appeal Court unanimously agreed that the Lower Tribunal misunderstood the case from day one as every available evidence showed that there was no rerun. So on what basis did the Lower Tribunal arrive at its decision against Otti and APGA citing a rerun that never took place. This was one atrocity the Supreme Court was not expected to ignore.
The failure of the Supreme Court to question or reprimand the Lower Tribunal for its misconception of the case by claiming that there was a rerun gave room for miscarriage of Justice, and subsequent dismissal of the cross Appeal brought by Otti and APGA; thus creating suspicion that the supreme court intentionally created a survival route for the PDP and its candidate.
If the Supreme Court cannot at least condemn the violent invasion of INEC headquarters, and if it cannot punish the perpetrators of such violence by ensuring that they didn’t benefit from their illegality, then there is no guarantee that such people would not commit more atrocities in the future if election results go against them.
It is not just enough for their Lordships to verbally condemn INEC for their partnership and unnecessary alliance with the defence team, what was expected was a deserving punishment that would serve as a deterrent to others and a soothing remedy for their victims. The Supreme Court is expected to help us progress in this direction rather than retrogress.
As we agree with the submission of the erudite United States Supreme Court Judge, Robert Jackson of blessed memory that, “the Supreme Court is not infallible, even though it is final”, it is important to remind our respected Supreme Court Justices that the finality of their verdict can be eventful and so crucial with far reaching consequences that they cannot afford to toy with its thoroughness and soundness.
Going by the position of the Supreme Court in the Rivers Governorship case, there was a clear case of miscarriage of justice in the Abia Governorship case. If the law is truly made for man, then our respected Justices must put on their legal armor and apply the necessary decisiveness required to thoroughly punish election riggers and ensure that the instrumentality of the law is applied in favor of the masses, rather than deliver judgments that embolden the guts of political terrorists while injuring the psyche of the electorates the way Abians have been injured.
Ekeoma writes from Umuahia, Abia State.
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