On this platform last week, I advised the politicians to be ready to accept the verdict of the 2019 elections which supposed to commence with the Presidential and National Assembly elections on 16th February 2019. The message then was that any politician that is aggrieved by the election verdict should approach the Election Petition Tribunal to ventilate his grievances as laid down by the law rather than calling on his supporters to engage in the act of lawlessness. I made this appeal as a concerned Nigerian citizen who is interested in a peaceful and credible elections but a learned friend of mine saw my genuine admonition as contained in the write up titled ELECTORAL DEFEAT: CHOOSING BETWEEN THE LAW AND LAWLESSNESS in a different way as he reacted as follows:
“ No need to belabour myself reading this jaundiced write up to the end .The very fact that you called out Uche Secodus for making a genuine statement telling Nigerians to protect their votes and resist any attempt to rig the forthcoming elections while leaving out Gov. El Rufai ‘body bag’ inciting /hate speech proves that you are partisan. Your comments on social media betrays your claim that you are not a card carrying member of any political party or its sympathizer .I can safely conclude that from your statement you are telling Nigerians to be calm if their collective will is being diverted .No way ! Expect the Venezuelan option if the current APC government tries to rig itself to power. Hypocrisy and bigotry won’t take us anywhere. Watch out and fasten your seat belt.”
In response to my learned friend who is from the Eastern part of the country, I said:
“I thank you for your opinion which you are entitled to. By your own confession you didn’t read what you called ‘jaundiced write up’. Before I wrote this write up, I wanted to quote Chief Secondus in order to be very fair to him as my tradition in writing but couldn’t lay my hand on the piece as at the time I wrote but based my comment on a News Editorial by a Radio Station. As a lawyer when trying to argue a case before the court, I don’t need to cite all the case authorities in law reports to convince the court in my submission. What I can only say for now is that Sir, you have got it wrong for not reading the entire ‘jaundiced write up’. If I were you I would read it in entity and do a comprehensive rebuttal. I once had a cause to disagree with Chief Mike Ozekhome, a learned silk on a particular section of the ACJA, I politely wrote rejoinder on why I disagreed with him. To me your accusation of hypocrisy and bigotry has no foot to stand .Do have a pleasant day!”
Before I came across this type of reaction from my learned friend, I used to have issues with a music lyric by one of those Nigerian young artists that sang the lyric : “A ma ni problem” meaning (We will have problem). The first time I heard it being played at a filling station where I went to fuel my car; I was asking myself which kind of music was that praying for problem as I was not used to or admire such kind of music unlike those of my favourite musicians like late Haruna Ishola and Ebenezer Obey who are masters of wisdom when singing. The reaction of my learned friend seems to have proved the guy that sang “A ma ni problem” right. How will there be no problem if will continue to have in our mindst people who do not read in entity a particular set of facts or submission before making their own jaundiced opinions or judgments? Can such learned friends be a good materials or candidates for our judicial bench? Good materials for the bench must know how to critically examine the set of facts placed before them before arriving at sound judgments. To better illustrate this a reference was made to one of our late Supreme Court Jurists, Hon. Justice Chukwudi Oputa in the book LEGAL LUMINARIES that :
“In the case of Onafowokan Vs. The State (1987) 7 SCNJ 233, Justice Oputa taught the trial judges on how a debt owed to the fact of a case must be paid before entering into the detailed discussion of law when he said that ‘I have observed in our trial courts a propensity to enter into a detailed discussion of law without first of all settling all the debts they owe to the facts. It is on the facts as properly perceived, accurately evaluated and definitely and specifically found that the law will apply. Any discussion of the law however erudite without a thorough and satisfactory evaluation of and decision on the facts of the cases of both the prosecution and the defence will be merely academic and will create problems for appellate courts”.
The lesson from this is that there is nothing bad in criticizing others who express their minds or views on a particular issue but when that is being done the entire set of facts must be critically examined objectively before judgment is passed whether to agree and disagree with the other side. Again the assertion that my comments on social media betrays my claim that am not a card carrying member of any political party or its sympathizer as asserted by my learned friend who further said that by my statement I was telling Nigerians to be calm if their collective will is being diverted. This had really shown that I had been grossly misunderstood by my learned friend. By his own confession he did not need to belabour himself to the entire write up, but we need to ask: why did he come to the wrong conclusion? I have here at the beginning summarised my message in the said write up which is “if you are aggrieved by the election results, embrace the law by going to the tribunal rather than lawlessness by creating unnecessary violence”. Must a reader be a student of English Language to understand this? While I must again point it out here that I am not a card carrying member of any political party for now, but that does mean that I do not have admirers among the politicians who I will actually vote for during elections in the exercise of my civic responsibility as a Nigerian citizen. One thing that is also in my character is that I do not take my admiration for any politician to the extreme.
This now brings us to the postponement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for 16th February to 23rd February 2019 while that of the Gubernatorial and Houses of Assembly from 3rd March to 9th March 2019 . Almost everybody was taken by surprise by the sudden postponement having prepared for the elections.The two main political parties, All Progressive Congress (APC) and People Democratic Party (PDP) out of many have engaged in blaming games and trying to outwitting each other. The postponement of the elections by the INEC on the ground of logistic problem was done at eleven hour when everyone had made a lot of committment and sacrifice for the exercise which made the postponement to be very pain. People have closed up business to travel to the various parts of the country for the election purpose. Many travelled long distances to pick their children from various schools.
There is nobody to take the blame than the INEC itself which had actually accepted the responsibility for the postponement. People were right in their contentions asking that why must the INEC wait for so long when it knew that it could no longer be able to conduct the elections as earlier scheduled. That waiting until when people have put in everything in place in the readiness for the elections before announcing the postponement was very sad.One of the problems with us in this country is that we do not learnt from the past mistakes and make necessary amendment to avoid the future reoccurrence of such things. In 2011, INEC postponed election on the ground of logistic problem as according to the then Chairman of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega “what worth doing worth doing well”. In 2015, the postponement was on the ground of the security when the then government said it could not guarantee the security if the elections were conducted as earlier scheduled. Today in 2019 the commission is back again postponing elections on the ground of problem of logistic and bad weather.
When shall we get it right? We must learn to always get it right. The commission cannot complain of inadequeate fund to do the necessary things that are required to have credible elections. This happening has again shown to us once again the uncaring attitude to work of the people employed and being paid salaries to discharge their responbilities as required of them. It is always disappointing that at various levels of government sectors or departments, those in charge do not know the purpose for which they are employed. Files that are supposed to be treated with utmost urgency are abandoned or attended to at the whims and caprices of those government employees .Unfortunately there are many people outside there looking for jobs to do but you have a situation on the ground where those who are employed are not ready to do the work .How will a country develop and things move forward with this kind of attitudes? There must be change of attitude to work wherever we find ourselves.
While one hopes that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must have learnt enough lesson and will live up to its responsibility to find lasting solution to the incessant irony of election postponement for the sake of the future, I believe we must have consolation in the fact that the INEC itself did not cover up its lapses as if it had refused to come out to call a spade a spade and gone ahead with the elections ,its would have created more problems for itself than it can solve as the outcome of such exercise would not be palatable.Having all expressed our disappointments and no matter what our grieavances might have been ,the deed was already done and we must still nothwithstanding accept the plea of the INEC Chairman , Professor Mahmood Yakubu that :
“…I want to appeal to Nigerians and all stakeholders for their understanding in what has been a very difficult decision for the Commission.But we believe that ultimately this is for the good of our democracy.I wish to assure you of our commitment to free,fair and credible elections. As Chairman of INEC, and on behalf of the Commission, we take full responsibility for what happened and we regret any inconvenience our decision might have caused.”
REMEMBERING GENERAL MURTALA MUHAMMED
This is another season to remember General Murtala Muhammed (GMG), the people’s General and a Head of State who was assassinated in a bloody military coup led by Colonel Bukar Dimka about 43 years ago. 13th February 1976 was one of the saddest days in the history of Nigeria. He came to power on 27th July 1975 after the regime of General Yakubu Gowon was ousted in a bloodless military coup.On assumption of office, he brought many changes to into government by his simplicity in carrying himself about.He instilled discipline and patriotism into the lives of the Nigerian people particularly the civil servants who must be in their offices before 8:00AM. Anywhere he went, he did not go about with siren entourage of security personnels, the situation which was eventually exploited by the plotters to eliminate him on his way to his office on the fateful day he was assassinated.
Within the six months in spent in office as Head of State, he made a remarkable impact in the lives of Nigerians. He laid the foundation for the return of the nation to the civilian rule on 1st October 1979. He created more states to make 19 states in Nigeria then. He made move for a new Federal Capital Territory for Nigeria. In one of speeches when swearing in those to work with him, he advised them to the very careful about the company they kept as “ a man is judged by the company he keeps’. He brought about African conscienceness among African countries with his popular speech of “Africa has Come of Age”. On 13th February 1976 when he was assassinated the nation went cold and into serious mourning .The world particularly the Africa equally felt the exit of GMM. The people’s General never died in vain as those that were involved in his assassination paid the supreme price for his death. According to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his speech titled GENERAL MURTALA RAMAT MUHAMMED DIED A MARTYR TO NIGERIA’ PEACE, UNITY AND SURVIVAL delivered on 20th February 1979 at the end of one week mourning declared by the nation in honour of GMM, he said:
“…Murtala Muhammed was a man of action par excellency. His words were few: they were never empty, nor were they ever spoken merely to please and deceive his hearers: and before the echoes of his words had died down, they had been followed by lightning and meaningful action…”
Now, the question to the present day leaders is that: what do they want to be remembeed for? I pray the Almighty Allah to continue to bless the soul of the people’s General and put him among His righteous servants in the al jannah firdaos!
REMARKABLE PRONOUNCEMENT ON DUTY OF JUDGE TO LAW
“It is the duty of the judex to expound what the law is and we should loyally follow the doctrine of stare decisis. Our problems as judges should and must not be to consider what social and political problems do today require, that is to confuse the task of a judge with the task of a legislator. More often than not, the law, as passed by the legislators, has produced a result which does not accord with the requirements of today. Let that defective law be put right by legislators but we must not expect the judex, in addition to all his other problems, to act as Lord Mansfield did, and decide what the law ought to be. In my humble view, he (the judex) is far better employed if he puts himself to the much simpler task of deciding what the law is.”
Per ADEREMI , JSC in Dapianlong Vs. Dariye (2007) 4 SC (Pt. 111) Pgs. 216-217 Paras 35-40, 5
THE SETTLED PRINCIPLE OF LAW
On effect of successful preliminary objection against an appeal
“It is settled law that where a court finds that a preliminary objection succeeds, there is no need going into the merits of the appeal.”
See AFRIBANK (NIG) PLC Vs. AKWARA (2006) 5 NWLR (Pt. 974) Pg. 656 Para B
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