EditorialTHEWILL EDITORIAL: That Supreme Court Judgement

THEWILL EDITORIAL: That Supreme Court Judgement

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January 14, (THEWILL) – Across the country, Nigerians are still celebrating the Supreme Court judgement on the election disputes involving the governors of Kano, Plateau, Abia, Bauchi, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, Lagos and Zamfara States. It is heartwarming to note that almost a year after bitterly lamenting the apex court’s final verdict on the conduct of the February 25, 2023 presidential election, the people have cause to celebrate a decision that was quite clearly aimed at upholding the principles of justice, especially in a matter as sensitive as an election dispute.

In Kano, before the Supreme Court judgement, tension had been ignited by a muddled and controversial Appeal Court ruling that authorised the withdrawal and re-issue of a Certified True Copy, CTP, for the counsels of the litigants.

Had the Supreme Court judgement gone the other way, the tension would have been stretched tight to bursting point. Needless to mention what would have happened next in a state so well-Known for violent protests. Considering the atmosphere in the capital city, parts of Kano State would certainly have exploded and innocent lives and valuable property lost in the ensuing conflagration.

Perhaps aware of the inevitability of a bloody protest, especially at a time the country was undergoing excruciating economic pain, and its implication under the prevailing conditions, the Justices of the Supreme Court must have been very mindful of coming up with an unpopular decision. The same thing may be said about their handling of the situation in Plateau State where less than two weeks earlier, unprovoked attacks on some communities by unknown gunmen believed to be herdsmen had left about 150 people dead and several others wounded.

The judges probably figured out that delivering a carefully thought-out judgement on the issue at stake might go a long way to prevent a catastrophe in the state. Right or wrong, they chose the path of justice.

The Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, who was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had lost at both the Tribunal and Appeal Court because his party breached an order from a High Court in Jos directing it to conduct valid ward, local government and state congresses before nominating its candidates for the various elective positions. On the basis of that, the PDP lost five elected members of the National Assembly – two in the Senate and three in the House of Representatives – as well as many members of the State House of Assembly to the rival All Progressives Congress, APC.

It is easy to surmise that at that stage in its affairs, Plateau was clearly in turmoil. With a halo of insecurity overhanging the state, Governor Mutfwang, the PDP and the people could do nothing but wait for justice to take its course. And that was exactly what happened.

The judges of the Supreme Court were unequivocal in their denunciation of the ruling of the Appeal Court. According to the apex court, the lower court erred in its judgment since the petitioners, not being members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had no locus to challenge the PDP’s primary election in Plateau.

On the issue of a Plateau High Court order affecting the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, the apex court held that the appellate court was wrong in concluding that the order affected the committee. Justice Agim described the issue of primary election as an internal matter of political parties, in which the Tribunal and Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court also pointed out that contrary to the claim of the petitioners and the judgement of the appellate court, the order of the Plateau High Court was not disobeyed by the PDP as evidence showed that a fresh primary was conducted. There could not have been a more appropriate decision on this matter.

While we join other well-meaning Nigerians in congratulating the Supreme Court for a job well done, we shall not hesitate to point out that the justice should be properly served by ensuring the reversal of the Appeal Court judgement that so unfairly robbed the PDP elected lawmakers in Plateau State of their rightful positions. If left unattended to, this lacuna may give rise to complications that will undermine Nigeria’s democratic process in the future.

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