By Dr Ademola Adegoke
The pen is ordinarily a sword of justice;a tool for pounding oppressors and elevating heroes of democracy and rule of law. Unfortunately, in the hands of sworn peddlers of democratic discord and anti-people propagandists, it has now become a weapon to sustain election riggers and harrass voice of reason in an era of democratic prostitution. The Goebellian voice of Sam Omotsaye which once attacked the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo is ever available to prop up all anti-people happenings and the increasingly fatal rape of democracy.
Playing on words and grammar,he sought to robe his dark art in the veil of legitimacy. Swimming in imperial sense of state power, it was incomprehensible for many hack writers to accept that men of honour still exist, who will not trade the hall of justice for the lucre of ill gotten wealth.
Deploying dark talents in aid of repressive system is a goebellian personality. If Goebels in the best of form failed to save Hitleric reign of violence on the , Omotsaye’s false logic and warped interpretation of a well grounded judicial pronouncement cannot save impostors from ultimate downfall. The people ultimately triumph against forces of political darkness and oppression.
The belief that a Returning officer can breach and over step his statutory powers is a demonstration of legal illiteracy from a pretender to legal mastery. A re-run built on illegality could not have stood as that is a direct assault on rule of law and people’s will. Summoning courage to strike down assumption of non existing powers is a courageous exercise of judicial powers by the judges. Again, when the electoral umpire woefully failed to defend authenticated multiple cases of result alterations, should the judges reward such criminal conduct because they are Omotsaye’s idol? The Nigerian defender of evil schemes will prefer the judge to remain silent and allow altered results to stand. Cancelling results of polling units with manipulated results is a fair decision especially when the electoral umpire shamelessly refused/failed to defend itself against the evidence of tampered results. Declaring a winner as an outcome is well convered and affirmed within the ambit of laws and the constitution.
The worst Goebellian crime is his swipe against Judicial reporters many of whom are lawyers alongside their media job. Was Omotsaye ever a reporter? Does being a hack writer qualify you to judge a reporter? Does this man realise that many of these journalists have been in the field for close to three decades. They know when a judgement is sound in law and public space. Because cash and carry rules the oppressors’ world, it was strange to them that the reporters report the judgement as a product of sound analysis of evidence and dispassionate application of laws. Judicial reporters really need to assist Mr Omatseye with legal education in Judicial reporting.
What happened in Osun was not about Osun but about Nigeria and democracy. The whole world attested to the rape of democracy, the blatant rigging, leading to a stolen mandate. This opinion cut across party lines. The judgement also received similar accolades. Many top leaders of APC even called the winner to show solidarity. The Osun Tribunal’s judgement generated such popular approval, widespread acceptance and commendation that those two judges are now considered heroes of our democracy.
Justice Obiorah who delivered the majority judgement along with Justice Gbolagunte were neither pedestrian nor flippant. The detailed judgement is a product of meticulous review of 1,013 exhibits tendered by the Petitioner, the few exhibits tendered by the 3 respondents, submissions from both sides, witness testimonies and cross examinations. The two judges know the law alongside their deep interest in the rule of law. They are deep legal minds with brilliant records of service within the judiciary. Unlike the defender of evil, these judges are public spirited and care about their reputation. Some people defend the worst violation of norms and laws as long as their boss authorises it. When will these agents of darkness realise that not all judges, lawyers and reporters have sold their souls to the devil?
But as you have read and recognise the defence of evil by Omotsaye, kindly check out the viewpoints of a Senior lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome. You will feel nothing but the truth rather than the vituperations of a man who has devoted his life to the upliftment of all that is ignominious in the polity.
Mike Ozekhome SAN said: “I speak truth to power. I interrogate authorities. I do so fiercely and fearlessly. I have done so for over 40 years, since my youthful days. I will not now suddenly stop. A man cannot learn to be left-handed in old age. It is therefore too late now for me to backslide from my well known position of defending the poor (and the traumatized rich), empowering the helpless and the vanquished; giving voice to the voiceless. I crusade the rights of the repressed, oppressed, suppressed, denied and subjugated members of the society, the hoi polloi and Frantz Fanon “Wretched of the Earth”
“I am able to speak on and address national issues critically and objectively, because I am not a card-carrying member of any political party in Nigeria, whether APC, PDP, APGA, PPA, Labour Party, NCP, DA, SDP, FDP, Accord, PRP, etc, etc.
“Two days ago, the Nigerian political earth quaked when the Osun state Election Petition Tribunal upturned Gboyega Oyetola’s September, 2018 victory and handed Osun state back to its rightful owner of the people’s mandate, Ademola Adeleke. It was not because of his youthful artful dancing steps. No. It was because the people believed in him and invested him with their mandate. He has just reclaimed it.
“All hail the judiciary, which, in spite of its beleaguered status of government intimidation, can still deliver clear and undiluted Justice. But, I had foreseen this victory, like Nostradamus, the man who saw tomorrow. On September 29, 2018, seven months ago, I had published an article titled; “Help, Help, A Compromised INEC Is Murdering Nigeria’s Hard Earned Democracy”
I had lambasted INEC and accused it of being the unofficial wing of the APC, by declaring the Osun state elections as ‘inconclusive’ and ordering a re-run. In that piece, I wrote as follows: The announcement by INEC, that the Osun state election conducted on Saturday, 22nd September, 2018, was inconclusive and the fixing of 27th of September for a so called rerun, is a dangerous subversion and travesty of the electoral process, a blow to our hard earned constitutional democracy and an ominous sign of the farce to expect in 2019-subversion of the people’s will. INEC has earned for itself the inglorious reputation of holding inconclusive elections (Kogi, Bayelsa, et al); and working in cahoot with the ruling APC party, always eager to do its dirty electoral bidding, to commit daylight robbery of votes.
“This they have just done to Adeleke’s votes to defeat the will and legitimate franchise of the good people of Osun state. I wholly condemn this ludicrous mockery of our electoral process and constitutionalism. There is no basis whatsoever, whether in law, constitutionalism, or morality, to have declared the election inconclusive. The Constitution of Nigeria and the Electoral Act ONLY recognise LAWFUL AND VALID VOTES in declaring a candidate winner of an election. This presupposes that some votes would be unlawful and invalid. Consequently, where votes are cancelled or invalidated for any reason howsoever, including for being invalid and unlawful, such votes are immediately and automatically cancelled, deducted and consigned to the dustbin of history. In any case, it was not wholesale results in the election that were voided and cancelled.
“Only votes that INEC had adjudged illegitimate due to irregularities were voided and cancelled. This cancellation and voidance of illegitimate votes effected all the political parties, not just APC and PDP, but especially Omisore’s SDP, whose two strongest fortes in Ife axis were badly effected. Such voided votes are ignored and unreckoned with, for they are a non sequitur. They are as dead as dodo. Having failed to viciously intimidate and rig the elections as they did in Ekiti State, due to the people’s courageous resistance, the APC has now used its electoral arm, INEC, to do the unthinkable, that which is clearly illegal, unconstitutional, immoral and a brazen assault on our sensibilities and constitutional democracy.
“Section 179(2)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (the grundnorm and supreme law of the land),is crystal clear and unambiguous that Adeleke and PDP have won and met the electoral requirements to be formally declared winners of the Osun state elections
“In Osunbor v Oshiomhole (2007) 18 NWLR(part 1065) 32,cancelled votes had been counted and added to PDP/Osunbor’s scores. The courts, up to the Supreme Court, held that when votes are cancelled, they are not reckoned with in determining the outcome of such an election. The courts thereafter deducted the invalidated votes and this gave victory to Oshiomhole in the hotly contested election. To avoid disenfranchisement of eligible voters, only votes in areas where election did not hold at all are considered for the purpose of calculating total votes.
“INEC’s guidelines are subject to the overriding authority of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, which is supreme. The Constitution is the Kabiyesi, Eze and Emir, in the hierarchy of Nigerian laws. All others are like Bales and Chiefs, that must bow before this king. The provisions of the Constitution therefore clearly override the provisions of the Electoral Act and any guidelines issued by INEC, by virtue of sections 1() and 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution. They are consequently null and void to the extent of the inconsistency. See the celebrated case of Nyesom Wike v Dakuku Peterside (2016) 7 NWLR (part 1512) 574.It is clear to me that INEC’s decision is more of a political hubris than one anchored on solid laws, whether the Constitution, or Electoral Act.
“Collation of all the results in Osun had already been done by INEC in accordance with section 27(1)(a)(v)) and (c) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as altered. The state collation was completed under section 27(d) and the results ought to have declared Adeleke the winner under section 27(f), having polled majority of votes. The constitutional, legal and moral profanity that INEC has thus engaged by ordering a repeat election is to invalidate the people’s valid and legitimate votes, in strange preference for legally voided illegitimate votes that no longer mattered or counted. The Returning Officer’s duty was simply to announce the winner, having declared all the results, and not to usurp the role of the Election Petition Tribunal, by altering the texture and tenor of the outcome, through its order for a rerun. What happens to the legitimate votes of the other candidates who will not participate in the rerun and their electors will, one may ask?
“By the way, why is INEC changing the goal posts and revising history because APC was roundly defeated in the election? In Osun state, only 3,498 votes were cancelled in Orolu, Ife South, Ife North and Osogbo LGAs. How can that affect the humongous votes ganered by Adeleke? PDP and Adeleke should immediately head for the courts to seek an order of mandamus, compelling INEC to declare him winner.
“Alternatively, he can approach the Election Petition Tribunal with all the votes cast, urging it to declare him winner. He has won his people’s hearts with his performance in the Senate and mesmerising dance steps of a teenager. INEC, I beg of you, don’t kill our hard earned constitutional democracy on the alter of corruption and official comprise of the ruling party.
“These were my words on 29th September, 2018. Fast forward. On 22nd March, 2019, my above prediction was fully realized and fulfilled. Impunity, electoral malpractices, and government’s strong hand were cumulatively dealt a death blow by Lady Justice (Latin, Justitia). She wears the blindfold, carries a balance and a sword in her hands. She uses the scale to measure and weigh the evidence of parties. Where the scale of balance tilts, signifies the winner. The sword represents authority, swiftness and finality of judgments.
“The blindfold depicts impartiality, the idea that justice sees neither, power nor status. Lady Justitia personified justice in ancient Rome, and is equivalent to the Greek goddesses, Thermis and Dike. All hail Lady Justitia. All hail the Nigerian judiciary”, he wrote.
Again, Ozekhome is not a hired writer or a paid defender of injustice. The Osun judgement is a landmark restorative measure which has rekindled the hope that the Judiciary is truly the last hope of the common man, stabilised the polity, foster justice and restore confidence of the public in the judiciary. Even the Judiciary leadership regards it as obedience to admonition by Justice Bulkachuwa few days to the judgement. The president of the Court of Appeal had warned tribunal judges to follow the law without fear or favour.
All hail the judiciary; all hail all lovers of democracy; and down to all anti-democratic forces
***Dr Ademola Adegoke, a Public Affairs Analyst, sent this piece from Iwo, Osun State