In the last four years, Anambra State has been through a publicly rigged election won by Mr. Peter Obi who painstakingly followed the judicial process of getting the people’s mandate back. This eventually happened three years into the four year term of what should have been his full term in office. Not only did he take over as governor, he also survived an ill-conceived, most petty impeachment before taking on the battle of the determination of the period of his governance of Anambra State.
In constitutional democracies, justice and the judicial process takes slow but measured steps, and not withstanding all odds, always and surely arrives at its anticipated destination. “Injustice no matter how slight anywhere, is a threat to justice anywhere” - Martin Luther King Jr.
It is the hope of NAS and indeed that of the majority of Nigerians that the judgment will serve as a serious warning to election riggers and further strengthen the nation’s democracy. It should also serve as a further challenge to those that intend to perpetuate political and electoral fraud in the country.
This judgment brings to the fore the ills, coercive weaponry, arbitrariness and palpable brutality perpetrated by the past government against the sovereign rights of the Nigerian citizenry. Most importantly, it reiterates the existence of men of honour and integrity within the polity and most especially on the bench.
The fact that all the seven justices on the panel were unanimous in this decision speaks volumes about the pivotal and groundbreaking nature of this decision. We hope that the courage shown and leadership manifested by the Supreme Court will rob off and carry down on all the subordinate courts in Nigeria. The Supreme Court has thrown down the gauntlet; it now behoves all Nigerians to be alert to their responsibilities and civic obligations to guard this hard won victory.
Coming on the heels of the just concluded anniversary activities commemorating the June 12 imbroglio, this decision highlights and showcases the preparedness of the Nigerian judiciary and indeed a preponderance of Nigerians to jealously guard our democracy, our constitution and the rule of law. The jubilation that followed the news of this decision in all sections and amongst all segments and classes of Nigerians evidences the yearning of Nigerians for an end to the flouting of our constitution and laws by the nation’s political class.
The National Association of Seadogs commends the individual justices of the Supreme Court for their courage and erudite interpretation of our national writ. We commend, in no small terms, Mr. Peter Obi for his resilience and utmost faith in the judicial process as against the usual hooliganism that many within the political class would have deployed. For this dogged fighter, the choice of courts to seek redress confirms that good things can, and will, still come from the judiciary.
We also commend President Umaru Yar’Adua for his prompt directive to the Inspector General of Police and the Solicitor General to implement the apex court’s decision with appropriate dispatch. We acknowledge that this singular act is a sharp departure from the attitude of the immediate past regime. In this connection, we applaud the pledge by Mr. President to uphold the rule of law in his bid to reposition Nigeria for peace and prosperity
The National Association of Seadogs (NAS) reiterates the need for a speedy dispensation of justice in respect of the numerous petitions before the various electoral tribunals. There exists an urgent need to avoid a judicial process that lingers for years before arriving at finality.
In conclusion, we recognize that the Judiciary has by this judgment maintained its position as the last bastion of hope, not only for an emerging democracy, but also Nigerians who have hitherto been relegated to despair, and forced resignation, believing that this great nation cannot achieve the heights and apex of her full potentials. We however caution that the Anambra legislators should allow peace and harmony to reign in the state and not start any frivolous impeachment moves that can only set back the hand of time again.
PROF. OLATUNDE MAKANJU
National Association of Seadogs (NAS)
June 20, 2007