How Lack of Radical Judiciary Put Nigerian Masses In Trouble
Nigeria News takes a look at events in Senator Dino Melaye’s recall.
One single factor that is seriously endangering democracy in Nigeria is lack of radical judiciary.
The judiciary today is permeated with court abuses and this is shown in the Supreme Court judgment between the sacked Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff and the party National Caretaker Committee.
The five man-jurist led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen went beyond giving their verdict to blame the handling of the previous cases at the lower courts on abuse of court processes.
The judges became radical at a point describing the litigations at the High and Appeal Court as abuse of court processes and that if the lower courts had handled the suits professionally, it ought not to get to the apex court.
In the PDP crisis, two Federal High Courts, in Abuja and Port Harcourt gave contradicting judgments. While the High Court in Abuja affirmed Modu Sheriff the PDP National Chairman and nullified the caretaker committee, the High Court in Port Harcourt affirmed the Ahmed Makarfi led committee, sacking Modu-Sheriff in the spate of one week
Modu Sheriff headed to the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt and got a favourable verdict as the authentic National Chairman of the party.
Angered by the Appellate Court’s judgment, Makarfi headed to the Supreme Court and during the week, he led the committee to win the case against Modu-Sheriff.
Delivering their judgment, the Apex Court judges were radical in their approach. They bemoaned the platforms on which the Appellate Court premised its verdict to sack the Makarfi’s faction in the first place and tagged it abuse of court processes.
It may sound laughable but it is true that currently the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has stopped the process of recalling Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi west due to court order.
The senator’s constituency had sought his recall by presenting daunting petitions to INEC with over 52 per cent of the constituents voting for the recall of the lawmaker who had been at loggerheads with the state Governor, Yahaya Bello.
As soon as INEC received bags of petitions, it made it public and began a process according to the constitution. The commission released dates to conduct verification exercise where the voter’s cards of every constituent would be checked.
It also pasted notice of the verification exercise at the INEC zonal office in Lokoja, Kogi State and fixed August 19 for the exercise proper.
At the plenary two weeks ago, the senate made mockery of the INEC, saying that the commission was only wasting its time about recalling its member, Melaye.
As a matter of fact, the Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu said that the process of recalling a senator is so cumbersome that it would be an effort in futility.
He laughed at the INEC, adding that the constituents were only making fools of themselves. The Senate President, Bukola Saraki attributed the recall to the row between the state Governor Bello and Melaye as he called on the governor to stop spending the state resources on a recall process that would never work.
While the senate continues to protect one of its own members, the constituency was hell bent to recall Melaye. And in order not to be caught unaware, the senator quickly filed a suit through a constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome to stop INEC from taking further action on the recall process.
First, it looked like one of the court processes that would die on arrival but sadly, it stood as the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered INEC to maintain the status quo.
Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakub said during the week that the commission had since received the court order to stop the process of recalling Melaye and that the order had been passed to the legal unit of the commission to take action.
As at Thursday, INEC had maintained the status quo, according to the court order.
However, the story became more interesting on Friday when the senate said that it would be probing the audited account of the Tertiary Education Funds, TETFUNDS since 2007 to see how contracts were awarded.
The current INEC Chairman, Yakub Mahmood was the TETFUNDS Boss in the period that the senate is about to probe and it is either he drops the recall process or face the consequence of alleged financial misappropriation while in TETFUNDS.