‘Agbakoba calls for the establishment of an Electoral Offenses Commission.’
The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has encouraged Nigerians to refrain from casting aspersions on the judiciary, regardless of how they feel about the conclusion of the legal process.
This call was made by Sanwo-Olu at the Nigerian Bar Association-Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA- SPIDEL) 2023 Conference.
In his introductory remarks, the governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, congratulated the chairman and members of the NBA-SPIDEL on their timely theme.
The NBA SPIDEL’s annual conference is themed “Post Election Nigeria; The Judiciary in the Eye of the Storm.”
He stated that in any democracy, the judgment of the courts offers the will and opportunity for individuals who are dissatisfied with an electoral battle to seek redress in a court of law.
“This major provision in the constitution is aimed at preventing a breakdown of law and order arising from those who may be dissatisfied with the outcome of the elections,” he says.
“I commend all political parties and major actors in the recently concluded elections for choosing the path of the rule of law and constitutionality by bringing their complaints to the relevant Election Petition Tribunals.”
“Through this singular and significant action, our country is on the verge of joining the league of civilized countries around the world where democracy and the rule of law are firmly established.”
“The decision by all parties in the electoral process to pursue the legal option, which I believe is, to a large extent, the only option, reflects the trust placed in the judiciary to dispense justice fairly and equitably.”
“As a result, all eyes are now fixed on the members of various tribunals, who, like Caser’s wife, are expected to be above board and make decisions without fear or favor.”
The Lagos governor went on to say that it is heartening to see that the conference has brought together the bar and the bench, as well as critical stakeholders in civil society organizations, among other notable personalities, who he believes will engage in a passionate discussion of all the issues that have been outlined in order to propel solutions that will further aid the judiciary as the last hope in the electoral process.
“It is important, however, to emphasize the need for us as citizens, particularly those in the political class, to accept the court’s decision in good faith after exhausting the constitutionally guaranteed options.” We must also avoid casting aspersions on the judiciary, regardless of our feelings about the outcome of the legal procedure.
“To do otherwise would be to undermine a critical institution charged with upholding the sanctity of the rule of law and democracy.” I am convinced that our collective efforts should be directed on advocating for required reforms that will address the obstacles to the progress of the judiciary and our collective desire.”
As a result, he thanks the chairman and members of the NBA-SPIDEL for being consistent in carrying out the duty of projecting public interest through the NBA’s annual flagship conference.
Speaking at the same event, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), former NBA president, stated that if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did its job effectively, there would be no petition against it.
He believes that one of the country’s problems is a lack of internal democracy inside the parties. It should be noted that if there was transparent internal democracy, doing “mago mago” would be difficult.
The learned silk stated that he had suggested that INEC’s role be similar to that of a “referee with a whistle” who is not concerned with marking the field or the team or ensuring that the nets are in excellent condition.
According to him, a referee’s role is just to blow the whistle. INEC is Nigeria’s largest printing body, with enormous responsibility. Politicians, in general, engage in “mago mago” since there are no consequences for bad behavior.
He went on to say that if these politicians are not reined in, the “mago mago” will continue. As a result, he proposed “a separate Electoral Offences Commission from what we have,” but this was not implemented.
“Since the death of the late Musa Ya’radua, the National Assembly has sat on the Justice Uwais panel’s report.” So, whenever we criticize the judiciary, realize that it is due of political inadequacies,” he remarked.
Agbakoba stated that if we want a proper system that removes the Judiciary from the theater, we must do it correctly.
He also mentioned that attorneys are a concern in this area.”A client may come to a lawyer who can see that the client’s case is hopeless, but the lawyer may collect N20 million knowing that the Tribunal’s decision will be a failure.”
As a result, he observes, “the foundation of an electoral process will need to be built around a reformed electoral management body with INEC.” INEC, in its current structure, is overburdened with many responsibilities.”
He stated that the only way to start talking about proper elections in 2027 is to unbundle new institutions.