Fellow blogger and reader, Mogaji, recently posed an interesting question,
"I think another current Nigerian Curiosity is the way the Judiciary seems to be falling on the people's sides these days especially with gubernatorial issues. Lately the Judges and the SANs have become the Kingmakers. Is this new development really a good thing or is this a case of the elite forcing their choices on the people afterall no one really knows who won these elections"
Since the last set of elections in 2007, countless governor election results have been overturned all over the country by the Judicial system. Andy Uba 'won' the governorship of Anambra State but had to step aside due to a court decision one year later. And most recently, a Court of Appeals annulled the governorship of Ondo State's Olusegun Agagu, who has now been arrested for allegedly stealing N25 billio
n($170 million) from state coffers.
These and the many other annulled governorships reinforce the conclusion of domestic and international election observers who declared the 2007 elections as seriously flawed. As such, the resulting annulments highlight the judiciary's role as the last line of defense for Nigerian democracy.
POWER IS CORRUPTING
As a lawyer, I strongly believe in the Judicial System as a means of righting wrongs and achieving justice. Therefore, I am pleased to witness Nigeria's Courts overcoming whatever pressures are on them from various interested parties, to follow the law and annul unworthy candidacies.
However, I worry about the corrupting element of power. Having that much say over such important political positions will only create opportunities for judges and their staff to be bribed with enormous amounts or coerced with violence or other threats. Yet, I rather have the judiciary as the last line of defense for Nigeria's democracy than nothing at all, given that elections in Nigeria do not guarantee that the actual winner wins. Sad, but true. At least a Court has to defend its decision and that information is typically available for review by individuals and ultimately by the Supreme Court. The alternative, relying solely on INEC's results while controled by Maurice Iwu, is far from acceptable.
POSSIBLE CLASS ISSUES
Furthermore, Mogaji's point, that these Court decisions could be reflective of class issues, rather than the actual election results, is completely valid and must not be dismissed. This possibility will only impede democracy and the right to choose our leaders regardless of economic status and will create the grounds for more problems that Nigeria does not need. But, what do you think about all this?
Thank you to Mogaji for suggesting this crucial issue.