Zamfara, Rivers Judgments Is A National Tragedy – Prof. Sagay


In two recent cases, the Nigerian Judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court as the Apex Court, has taken over the role of electors and denied the real electorate either of their right to vote, or set aside clear, unchallengeable voters’ decisions and handed over victory to the clear looser.

In Rivers State, the APC electorate was deprived by the Judiciary of their right to vote. The result was that the PDP was effectively returned unopposed. The effect of this is that the PDP not only has a “walk in” Governor, but all the members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, all the members of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representative) are 100% PDP, in a State where the voting preference of the electorate is about 50:50.

In Zamfara State, there was an election in which the APC had a landslide victory over the PDP, in the Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly elections. In a decision handed down on Friday, 24th May, 2019, the Supreme Court transferred all the victories of the APC to the PDP. Thus, the PDP Governorship candidate who lost woefully to the APC candidate was in effect, declared Governor by the Supreme Court. In other words, the Supreme Court has set aside the decision of the electorate and installed the losers in both the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government in Zamfara State. The verdict of the electorate has thus been set aside and replaced with that of the Supreme Court.

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This is the latest bizarre twist in Nigerian Democratic practice.

To further bring home the gravity of the situation in the Governorship election in Zamfara State, the APC candidate scored well over 500,000 votes whilst the PDP candidate scored, just over 100,000 votes. The APC won all 3 Senate seats in the State, 7 House of Representative seats and 24 State House of Assembly seats. By this judgment, the landslide APC victories in the Governorship, Senate, House of Representative and State House of Assembly are transferred to the PDP.

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If the APC primaries were defective, should the electorate be deprived of their democratic and Constitutional rights to vote? Is the electorate to be punished for the transgressions of party officials? Should the Judiciary replace the electorate’s decision and install losers in office? Could the Judiciary not have drawn on the deep recesses of its intellectual capacity, authority and its inexorable commitment to justice, to prevent this undemocratic calamity? Can the APC officials not be punished, for their lapses without denying the electorate their democratic rights? Should the Judiciary take over the electoral rights of the electorate? Is this not a clear case of technical law completely overthrowing justice? Have the members of the Supreme Court not achieved a level of creativity and authority to provide a solution without burying democracy and taking over from the registered voters as the judicial electorate? If this judgment had been an international one, it could have been described as “shocking the conscience of humanity”. In this case, it shocks the conscience of Nigerian humanity.

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The Zamfara and Rivers State judgments are a national tragedy. We should not allow our legal system to throw up such unimaginable injustice. This major judicial disenfranchisement of the Zamfara and Rivers electorate should be reversed. I advise the APC legal team to apply for a review of the two judgments. Their Lordships ought to be given an opportunity to reverse this unprecedented tragedy.

The prefix “Justice” preceding he names of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Judges is significant, for it prescribes what they stand for and what they represent, JUSTICE!

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