IT asked the court to stop NEC from conducting the election on June 12. And the court did just that!
The eventual annulment of the election by the military junta, widely acclaimed to be the freest and fairest in the annals of the nation almost led to a civil war.
Wilson Egbo-Egbo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was also said to have been enmeshed in controversial judicial pronouncements. He had given a ruling on the Anambra political crisis when he ordered Dr. Chris Ngige to vacate office as governor of AnambraState. He said the ruling was sequel to Ngige’s purported earlier resignation from office.
Similarly, he had ruled in favour of Chief Adolphus Wabara, former Senate President, who came into office under controversial circumstances. He had agreed to preside over the case, which Wabara brought to the Abuja Federal High Court, instead of the elections tribunal in AbiaState.
Egbo-Egbo granted Wabara’s prayer that he should compel the Independent National Electoral Commission to declare him winner, in place of Dan Imo, his All Nigeria Peoples Party’s rival for the Abia South senatorial election.
In another case, the same Egbo-Egbo threatened to arrest the leadership of the National Assembly for contempt if it went ahead to pass the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission bill into law: A move stifling the anti-graft war.
Soon after the ruling on Ngige, Egbo-Egbo was transferred to Ibadan, was later investigated by the National Judicial Commission and placed on suspension before finally being retired.
Again, Stanley Nnaji, a judge of an Enugu High Court had given a ruling removing Ngige as governor of AnambraState following a suit filed by Nelson Achukwu, a suspended member of the Anambra State House of Assembly who had requested the court to enable him enforce his fundamental human rights.
In the suit, Achukwu had complained that he was beaten up by a group of persons he suspected were carrying out Ngige’s instruction when he went to attend a Peoples Democratic Party’s zonal meeting. The suit culminated in the governor’s removal order and a directive to the Inspector General of Police to withdraw the governor’s police security.
Chief Chris Uba, Ngige’s political godfather, was said to have personally flown into Abuja on that same day to deliver the court order on the IGP to remove Ngige and withdraw his security operatives.
The then IGP, Tafa Balogun, immediately complied and Ngige’s police orderlies were withdrawn that same day, allegedly forcing the governor to go into hiding.
The recent case of the former governor of DeltaState, Chief James Ibori, is still fresh in our memory.
Chief Ibori had pleaded not guilty before Judge Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court, Asaba, who subsequently discharged and acquitted Ibori of all the corrupt charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC had left the court premises disappointed by the verdict of Justice Awokulehin but decided not to appeal the verdict for unknown reasons.
In a twist, the London Metropolitan Police arraigned the same former Delta State Governor before a competent British Court and incorruptible Judges in the likes of Justice Pitts with less than 10 count charges, including money laundering of which Ibori’s accomplices had already been convicted in England.
The case of Yusufu has again brought to the fore, the issue of corruption which has continued to erode the moral fabric of our society, violate the social and economic rights of the poor and the vulnerable.
That is where the promise by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Alooma Mukhtar – that the National Judicial Council, NJC, will look into the controversy surrounding Yusufu’s conviction in a bid “to take appropriate action” to reassure the public that the judiciary remained the last hope of the common man – is welcome.
It should be realised that corruption invariably undermines democracy and subverts the rule of law, the basis for every civilized society, and Nigeria should not be an exception.
Mr. ADEWALE KUPOLUYI wrote from the Federal Varsity of Agric., Abeokuta, Ogun State