Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED
This morning the Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal that the 2003 Presidential Election result be allowed to stand. The decision flies in the face of facts, of law and of common sense. It is a political – not a legal judgment and Nigerians will regard it as such.
ANPP and myself as their Presidential Candidate went to Court to protest the way and manner in which the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the 19th April, 2003 Presidential Election. We appealed to the Supreme Court complaining about the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of our petition despite its findings of proof, and existence of undisputed evidence of substantial non-compliance with several fundamental provisions of the Electoral Act 2002. These include wide-spread violence of alarming magnitude which had resulted in numerous brutal killings of members of the ANPP, their supporters and innocent passers-by in several states of the country. The conduct of the elections was accompanied by unprecedented magnitude of brazen electoral malpractices by INEC in its official capacity, undue influence by the President through his illegal deployment of armed soldiers and police accompanied by party thugs during the purported election. The Court of Appeal had expressly held that INEC by its obvious bias had “negated its claim to neutrality and impartiality”. We had complained that the Court of Appeal having held expressly in the leading judgment, as well as in the concurring and dissenting judgments, that the production of election result was a fundamental element in the proof of the conduct of election where the conduct of the election was disputed, still upheld the Presidential election result when the result of election was not produced in Court. We further complained that the Lower Court’s presumed regularity of the official act of INEC even in the absence of an attempt at proving substantial regularity as expressly required by the law of evidence as interpreted in previous decisions of the Supreme Court.
Our complaint to the Supreme Court was in furtherance of our belief that institutions created by the Constitution for the purpose of performing certain functions must be made to perform those functions.
Although now thoroughly disappointed by the decision, yet, consequent upon our belief in, and commitment to, the enthronement and sustenance of true democracy based on the rule of law, and the imperative of respecting the final pronouncement of the body charged with nurturing the supremacy of the rule of law, on our part, we accept this decision of the Supreme Court, although we do not agree with it. But all the virtues of democracy we subscribe to will not lead to the existence of a stable society, unless people submit to certain rules of conduct. Where the government and its agencies do not subscribe to any rules and the Judiciary places them above the rule of law and the constitution, it only leads to the triumph of despair over hope.
We therefore urge our members and supporters all over the country to remain calm and face the future with renewed determination as it is now clear that the struggle to create a true democratic system based on the fundamental freedoms which include the right to choose who governs a people, would demand greater commitment and sacrifice by all who accept the democratic option.
The democratic forces, the oppressed opponents of tyranny, the political parties and civil society organizations must now reflect deeply on the nature and form of the sacrifice they have to make if Nigerians are to be able to choose those who govern them. It is not possible to continue to evade those awesome responsibilities and hope for good democratic governance. At the minimum, these forces, tendencies and institutions have to find a way of forging viable alliances and working arrangements. They must refuse to be subverted by ethnic, religious, regional and other parochial considerations and propaganda. If we have not learnt enough from our bitter experiences of the 419 and local government elections of 2003 – 2005, we have ourselves entirely to blame.
As we accept this denial of justice, it is pertinent to note the direct impact that it is bound to have on the country. Regrettably, our judiciary has failed to sanction those who admitted unleashing armed soldiers, police, and thugs on the civil society during the election. That those so deployed, terrorized and brutalized the civil society during the election is lavishly documented in the record of proceedings of the trial. So also is the fact that not a single person - military, police or civilian - who participated in the acts of terrorism which in many cases resulted in the death of innocent persons identified by the Court of Appeal to be mainly members of the ANPP, their supporters or innocent passers-by has been prosecuted.
Our concern as responsible and patriotic citizens of this country is that the failure of our Courts to remedy this chilling wrong is likely to be construed as a signal for likely victims to, in future, take necessary steps to ensure self help for self protection. This will be an unfortunate and regrettable development.
As we move to prepare ourselves for the 2007 elections, let us hope that there will be no circumstances created by those in authority before or during the elections, that would necessitate the imperative of self-help in the expectation that this time people would turn the other cheek. Regrettably, the main effect of this judgment is that no normal election will be held again in Nigeria in the near future. The local government elections held in 2004 and 2005 are clear examples of the character of future elections. There is also the danger of voter apathy, because many reasonable people, especially women will not go to polling booths to risk getting caught in officially-sponsored violence. This situation must not be allowed to continue. The courts have accepted and ruled that the use of troops and police in intimidating the opposition was wrong and still ruled in favour of those who committed these crimes.
Nigerians must awake and fight against this brigandage in the future.
Let me again assure our supporters that my commitment to serving the country through politics is unshaken. We are here for the long haul. What persuaded me to join was the state of the country through bad government especially in the last six years. The country is in a bad shape with security non-existent; education, agriculture and environmental destruction of the oil producing areas receiving scant attention and corruption in government at an all time high. The masses of this country therefore need a leadership that will give them hope of a better government that will address their problems. We are ready to provide this leadership.
Finally may I seize this opportunity to thank the leadership and membership of our party and our teeming supporters all over the country for their unrelenting support and encouragement, our support staff for their loyalty and dedication, the press for their substantially sustained coverage of the longest single judicial proceeding in the history of Africa, or perhaps the entire world. I also hereby express our gratitude to the judiciary for at least allowing us the opportunity to put on record for posterity evidence of the biggest electoral fraud in the history of democratic elections in Nigeria. One only hopes that their decisions were consistent with the dictates of their conscience under the Will of the Almighty.
Long Live Democratic Federal Republic of Nigeria.
GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI, G.C.F.R.
1ST JULY, 2005
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.