By Casmir Igbokwe
Last week, I wrote a piece titled “Injustice is another form of xenophobia.” Published in NewsProbe, an online publication, the article compared the barbaric xenophobic attacks in South Africa to another version of it in Nigeria. It also commended the Nigerian government’s noble intervention but advised that, while we attempt to remove the speck in South Africa’s eye, we should not gloss over the log in our own eye.
Part of the article reads, “In this country, justice is on vacation and the worst form of xenophobia is injustice. Or how do you describe the fact that, in our unity colleges, for instance, a boy from Zamfara State who scores 2 will get admission before my son from Anambra State who scores as high as 139? They say this is to fulfil the federal character principle. Fair enough. But why was this federal character not observed in many federal and security appointments in the current dispensation? Why has the present government blocked its ears to the calls for restructuring, which will give every section of the country a sense of belonging and justice? Why has the government shied away from effective reform of the country’s justice system?
“Look at what happened in the Osun governorship election of last year. The exercise recorded massive infractions. The Osun State election petitions tribunal noted those anomalies and ruled in favour of justice when the matter came to it. But the appeal tribunal murdered that justice on the altar of legal technicality. This drew our march to genuine democracy backwards. The nation eagerly awaits the judgement of the presidential election petitions tribunal.”
Last Wednesday, the five-man panel finally delivered their verdict. For over eight hours, the judges – Muhammad Garba, Abdul Aboki, Joseph Ikyegh, Samuel Oseji and Peter Ige – laboured to justify dismissing Atiku and Peoples Democratic Party’s petition. On the server issue, the tribunal ruled that no law in Nigeria allows for electronic transmission of results using card reader. They said, based on available evidence, it was clear that the results were collated manually, saying “card reader machine has not replaced the voter register.”
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate saga, the chairman of the panel who read the lead judgement, Justice Garba, said, “It is established that a candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to his Form CF001 before a candidate is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest the election. In effect, the second defendant went through secondary education and then proceeded to military school. The military school is higher than secondary education. Thus, our conclusion is that Buhari is not only qualified but eminently qualified to contest the presidential election.”
The judges were also of the firm view that the petitioners failed to prove that Buhari submitted false information, which was fundamental in nature to aid his qualification to contest the election as prescribed in section 35 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011. Buhari had claimed that his elusive certificates were with the military board. This turned out to be untrue.
In a bid to get this certificate, the President and his handlers procured some documents with variants of his name – Muhammadu and Mohammed. The petitioners felt they proved the perjury charge beyond reasonable doubt. But our wise judges felt otherwise. What this means is that I can procure a PhD certificate from Toronto bearing Cashmere Igbokwe and use it to get a job in the Presidency.
My only worry is that we are sending wrong signals to the world. I used to think that the only concrete evidence to show that one attended a school was the certificate. You can’t enter any Nigerian university, for instance, without tendering your secondary school certificate. And you cannot get a serious job without attaching and even physically showing your certificates. By the ruling of our wise judges, you don’t need that in election matters. Invariably, you can go to school and leave midway and still get the privileges of someone who toiled to finish with first class. All you need to do is to present a picture you took while in school, swear an affidavit, and you will be cleared.
Injustice has no better name! The PDP and its supporters rightly described the verdict as subversion of justice. The party expressed its intention to approach the Supreme Court to challenge the judgement.
Nevertheless, stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their supporters believe the judgement is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria in recent times. Information and culture minister, Lai Mohammed, even asked the PDP and Atiku to apologise for “wilfully distracting” Buhari with their petition.
The national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, boasted that the ruling party would always defeat the PDP even if it took the petition to the World Court. I don’t blame Oshiomhole and his ruling party. The Supreme Court of today appears essentially crippled. See the way the hitherto tough Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, were subdued to pave way for the current CJN, Tanko Muhammad.
Recall that Onnoghen was hounded out of office for alleged false declaration of assets. Recall also that security operatives from the Department of State Services (DSS) raided Ngwuta’s house in 2016. He was charged to court for money laundering and passport fraud. Though Justice John Tosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja freed him of these charges last year, Ngwuta appears to have been rendered impotent at the apex court.
The hope of many Nigerians is no more in the courts. In the next four years, we may have to endure the misfortune of having this government in power. We may have to continue to endure the current economic trauma. We may have to continue to pay the price of poor justice and electoral systems.
Now that the tribunal has declared him eminently qualified to be President, Buhari should drop the toga of mediocrity and wear the cloak of eminence. He should surprise Nigerians by initiating the reform of our entire electoral system. In this modern age, electronic transmission of election result is the best way to go. It will minimise rigging and ensure that the votes of Nigerians count in subsequent elections.
Re: Anambra and 2021 governorship va-va-voom
Dear Casmir, permit me to use metaphor of jumping frogs to highlight the beauty of your analysis. Only political bullies, and or diehards, will challenge or fault the existing APGA and even PDP zoning arrangement, which now favours Anambra South Senatorial zone, comprising Aguata, Ihiala, Nnewi (North and South), Ekwusigo, and Orumba (North and South).
Serial or professional guber candidates like Senator Andy Uba, Chief Godwin Ezeemo, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, and Senator Uche Ekwunife, or any other butterfly politician, should know that the nice “krom krom” sound of bitter kola, “ugoro”, or “aki ilu” in the mouth is different from its bitter taste. And many of them may have qualified for public beating by our people in Diaspora.
This time round, our dear sister, Senator Iyom Uche Ekwunife, and her colleagues should sit down and concentrate on successfully concluding their senatorial offices creditably. It is true, traditionally, that too much jumping around can kill the frog.
– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645
Cas, you have opened up a new and fresh area many other writers have avoided. For sure, the race for the governorship seat in Awka will be hot and will be for the highly intellectual ones and no longer an all-comers event. The erstwhile governor has raised governance in Anambra very high; so, to measure up to his scale or to surpass him may be herculean. Let us see what plays out in a state that is blessed with great men of wealth in all areas. By reason of academic genius, they are surplus; when you talk of men with political know-how, they are in large supply; even men who have rehearsed their dance steps into the government house many years before are there. It is going to be intriguing.
– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibeku Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise, Imo State, 08036174573
Casmir, I believe that Anambra politics has got to a certain standard that people who want to lead must be judged by such standard. People who betrayed the state when they were in government should not be involved. The development of Anambra will be such that one can easily say welcome to paradise. APGA zoning formula should be retained. I see a battle line drawn between APGA (Prof. Soludo) and PDP (Uche Ekwunife or Godwin Ezeemo).
– Pharm Okwy Njike, Nawfia, Njikoka LGA, +2348038854922
Let there be no zoning in Anambra again, which is synonymous with quota system in Nigeria, because it may breed mediocrity. We want intelligent people and not third class holders with dual citizenship to rule us.
– Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno, JP, 08063730644
My bro, va-va-voom is an understatement. But PDP and APGA should put their house in order because APGA is currently riddled with an intractable internal crisis. It’s like Obiano lacks the political dexterity to settle it. APGA is no longer what it epitomised! Anambarians should not allow herdsmen’s party to win any state in the South East, so that they will not execute their Ruga programme easily and other obnoxious agenda against us. APC is anti-Igbo.
– Smart, Abakaliki, +2348160638941
The guber election in Anambra State, come 2021, will be interesting because the type of people who are preparing to take over from Gov. Obiano are well-to-do in their endeavours. All aspirants and candidates should do their homework well to get votes by providing people-oriented projects before election.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 16, 2019.