Connect with us

Opinion

Opinion: 2019 Election Petitions: The Judiciary Can Help Sanitize Nigerian Electoral System

Published

on

By Raymond Nkannebe; Esq.

With the limitation period for the presentation of petitions flowing from the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections having closed a fortnight ago, and those of gubernatorial and Houses of Assembly elections closing on the 1st of April, 2019 save for states and local constituencies where supplementary elections were held on the 23rd of March, 2019, it is safe to conclude that the politicians have had their day under the proverbial sun, and have now passed the ball into the court of the judiciary who must now get to work in the next one year at least to determine the catalogue of petitions that have proceeded from the womb of the 2019 elections which in many ways brought to full glare and national embarrassment, the weakness of our electoral process. So bad was it, that some segment of the civil society posit that it is arguably the worst election to have been conducted in Nigeria since the dawn of uninterrupted democracy in 1999.

Contrary to the situation in 2015, the victory of president Muhammadu Buhari is today a subject of litigation. Whereas former president Goodluck Jonathan made the now famous phone call to his opponent candidate Muhammadu Buhari when it became crystal clear that he was on the wrong side of the ballot, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar rightly or wrongly depending on the individual’s political bias, has decided to challenge the re-election of Muhammadu Buhari in court.

In a 147-page petition filed on his behalf by a battery of very senior and distinguished members of the bar, Atiku and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are asking that the result of the election as announced by the electoral umpire, INEC be nullified, and their candidate returned. According to them from what one gathers from the well laid out petition, on a proper computation of results from the polling units, it was the PDP and their candidate Atiku Abubakar, and not Muhammadu Buhari who won the election. They have made a heavy weather of having evidences which support this proposition particularly the smart card reader data from all the polling units across the country transmitted to INEC’s back-end server during the course of the polls.

Beyond Atiku’s petition, a staggering 736 petitions challenging one election or the other, have been received by the election petition tribunals inaugurated by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, two weeks before the conduct of the election. This number understandably could increase as the final collation of results by INEC in Rivers state last week, has seen some candidates and their political parties angling to challenge the return of incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike.

The climate of rigging and manipulation of election results in Nigeria added to the undue militarization of the electoral process by the incumbents who are often in control of the security apparatus often necessitates the challenge of elections by Petitioners on a number of grounds that have been laid down by the electoral law namely, that the person whose election is being challenged was not qualified to contest the election ab initio; or that the winner of the election did not score the majority of lawful votes cast at the election. Others are that the questioned election is invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Act; or that the Petitioner was validly nominated but was unlawfully excluded from contesting in the election by the electoral umpire. See section 138(1) )(a-d) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

It is however not in the fleshing out of the grounds of the petition and the particulars in support of same that the Petitioners often run into a problem but in the leading of evidence to establish to the required degree of proof, the often serious allegations contained in most petitions such that could eventuate into a return of the petitioner by the tribunal as was recently seen in the Osun state election petition tribunal which nullified the victory of incumbent governor Gboyega Oyetola in favour of Senator Ademola Adeleke. This writer however understands that decision is a subject of appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.

A holistic appraisal of the election petitions that have made their way to our courts and/or election tribunals as far back as the cases of Omoboriowo v Ajasin (1984) 1 SCNLR 108; Obih v Mbakwe (1984) LPELR-2712 (SC); Nwobodo v Onoh (1984) 1 SC 1; Buhari v INEC (2008) 19 NWLR (pt. 1120); Ojukwu v Obasanjo (2006) (EPR) 242 to name a few, will readily reveal the near impossibility of upturning an election through the courts. A petitioner almost always finds himself contending with a large body of case law and statutory provisions that literally excuses and/or explains away the electoral infractions complained of in his petition. Save for a handful of cases where a petitioner was returned through the tribunals, thousands of petitions go to court at every election cycle without any success. Perhaps the circumstances of the 2007 general election puts the difficulties faced by a petitioner in proper context. Despite the winner of that very controversial election acknowledging that the process which brought him to power was fraught with widespread irregularities and gross manipulation of the electoral process, it is ironical to say the least, that the challenge of that election at the presidential election tribunal by then General Muhammadu Buhari came to nought. Such is the lot of the Petitioner.

The sad consequence(s) of this is that it has helped to fester the culture of rigging across board. The Nigerian politician having understood how difficult it is to upturn an election through the courts, has devised even more brazen and disingenuous means of rigging him or herself into power and thereafter, dare their opponent to go to court to challenge the victory. Anyone who has had the privilege of studying the electoral forms from our shambolic elections will readily come to terms with the fact that elections in Nigeria are basically a riggers affair. It is the candidate who is able to out-rig the other through any means whatsoever that is often declared the winner thus making a mockery of our democracy.

In a bold attempt however to improve the sanctity and integrity of our electoral process and to the credit of former chairman of the electoral commission Alhaji Attahiru Jega, the smart card reader was introduced in the 2015 general election to checkmate the recurrent problem of multiple accreditation of voters against the spirit of the voters register. The genus of the smart card reader machine was to ensure that only bio-metrically accredited voters could cast valid ballots at the polling booths. It was thought that it would solve the recurrent problem of multiple thumbprinting by unscrupulous elements who lend themselves to politicians who prostitute the electoral process.

But the legality of the smart card reader as an instrument for the conduct of elections was to evolve into a serious constitutional debate on the back of the petitions that made it to the election tribunals following that round of elections. In the case of Nyesom v Peterside (2014) 5 NWLR (pt. 1430) 377 a full-bench of the apex Court despite acknowledging the motive behind the introduction and use of the card reader machine in an election, which needless to say was to bolster the democratic norm of “one man one vote”, went ahead to strike it down for having derived its efficacy from the INEC guidelines which obviously was in conflict with section 49(2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which nominates the voters register as the instrument of accreditation of voters and proof of over-voting by a person challenging an election.

In answering the question whether failure to use card reader for accreditation of voters can invalidate an election, the apex Court Per. AKA’AHS held instructively as follows, “the introduction of the card reader is certainly a welcome development in the electoral process. Although it is meant to improve on the integrity of those accredited to vote so as to check the incidence of rigging, it is yet to be made part of the Electoral Act. Section 138(2) envisages a situation where the Electoral Commission issues instruction or guidelines which are not carried out. The failure of the card reader machine, or failure to use it for the accreditation of voters cannot invalidate an election. The section provides as follows: “138(2) an act or omission which may be contrary to an instruction or directive of the Commission or of an officer appointed for the purpose of election but which is not contrary to the provisions of this Act shall not of itself be a ground for questioning the election”.

With the above sentiments of the apex Court, many of the petitioners who went to court in the last cycle of election hoping to make a case out of the non-use of the smart card readers in the accreditation of voters at the polling units found themselves on the wrong side of the law, and severally paid with a dismissal of their petitions. Unfortunately, none of the petitioners drew the attention of the apex Court to the amendment of section 49 (2) of the Electoral Act which was signed into law by former president Goodluck Jonathan on the 20th of March, 2015, just 8 days before the holding of the general election. On their part too, the judex did not take judicial notice of this amendment to the principal Act which legitimized the use of the smart card reader for voter accreditation; the very basis upon which the Court upheld all the disputed governorship elections conducted by the INEC on April 11, 2015.

Having said that, the 2019 elections and the petitions trailing it, provides another window of judicial activism for the judiciary which has the potency of revolutionizing our electoral process and by extension, our nascent democracy. With the countrywide criticisms that have greeted the conduct of the just concluded general elections ranging from selective use of the smart card reader machines in some places and the outright thumbprinting of ballot papers in the quarters of party chieftains and what not, in a barefaced prostitution of our electoral process, suffice it to say that the ball is effectively in the Court of the judiciary to rise up to the occasion in ensuring that not a single illegal vote counts in the return of a candidate.

A simple way to do this, is to ensure the fulsome recognition of the data from the smart card reader machines and using same as a benchmark for reconciling the total votes cast in a polling unit so as to check against over-voting which was perpetrated by politicians with reckless abandon in the just concluded 2019 elections. In places where the smart card reader machines malfunctioned and thus were not used, the tribunals must ensure that the procedure enumerated by the electoral umpire on how voters in such polling units should cast their votes, was applied to the latter. Anything otherwise, must of necessity lead to the cancellation of the results from such unit as consecrated by the relevant provision of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and the Guidelines of the electoral commission 2019. Thankfully, the apex Court in the Nyesom v Peterside case (supra) acknowledges that the innovation of the smart card reader machines was well intentioned in that, it was calculated to improve the integrity of our elections. The petitions that are now lying before the several election petition tribunals across the country, provides an opportunity for the judex to uphold the smart card reader machine and lend it the much needed judicial imprimatur which counted against its usage in the last cycle of elections, irrespective of the consequences for the individual poll where it is applied.

At a time when it has been shown that the executive and the legislature are enmeshed in a dark conspiracy to the detriment of our democracy, such as was seen in the circumstances under which assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2018) was refused by president Muhammadu Buhari, the judiciary can step in, in its hallowed capacity as the avowed defender of any democracy to sanitize our electoral system. This is what Nigerians who are increasingly losing confidence in our electoral process earnestly asks of the judiciary.

 

Raymond Nkannebe; a legal practitioner writes from Lagos.

Continue Reading
Advertisement


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Food for Living: The Power of Persistence

Published

on

By Henry Ukazu

Dear Destiny Friends,

The difference between success and failure is persistence – Dr. Yomi Garnett

There’s no doubt that there are many components of success. Some of them are courage, sacrifice, hard work, element of luck, role of mentors, destiny helpers, consistency, persistence, networking and grace of God.

But persistence happens to be one critical factor that determines whether one will go far in life or otherwise. All however, are dependent on ability to exhaust all options.

The power of persistence in everyday activity cannot be overemphasized. In reality, it’s usually difficult for one to pursue a task when the odds are against the person,  and that’s where persistence becomes pronounced.

Persisting comes in various ways. As a student, it takes persistence for a student to continue reading a particular course or material even if the they find it difficult to comprehend. As a business owner, it takes persistence to continue trading when a loss is recorded. And as a husband or wife, it takes a combination of patience and persistence for to forge ahead in spite of challenges.

What really is persistence? It is ordinarily the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even when the odds are against him. Persistence shows how dedicated and passionate a person can be in the cause of pursuing a project.

Being persistent is a crucial factor in achieving success both in personal living, career, academics and in every walk of life. Being persistent is a key to unlocking the doors of opportunity and progress as well as helps to maintain focus on what really matters.

In the journey of life, it is persistence that shows the distinguishing trait between great leaders and achievers. If we look through every industry and culture across the globe, there’s one consistent trend among successful individuals, and that trend is the ability to persevere. Some of the greatest leaders of the world, who have achieved greatness through persistence include Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Colonel Sanders, Mark Victor Hansen and Steve Jobs. These persons persisted beyond the norm, and reached their goal.

A case study of Abraham Lincoln is very symbolic because he lost several elections, had challenges in marriage, failed in business, but he persisted and became the Presidential of the United States of America.

It’s instructive to note that persistence is about believing in oneself and finding a way to reach the result when the odds are against you. A further analysis of Abraham Lincoln shows that he failed in business at the age of 21, was defeated in a legislative race at age 22, failed again at business at age 24, overcame the death of his lover at age 26, had a nervous breakdown at age 27, lost a congressional race at 34 and 36, lost a senatorial race at 45, failed to become vice president at 47, lost a senatorial race at 49, and then finally was elected president of the United States of America at age 52.

There’s also the famous story of Thomas Edison trying 9,999 times to perfect the light bulb – and he couldn’t do it. Someone asked him, “Are you going to have 10,000 failures?” And he responded, “I didn’t fail; I just discovered another way not to invent the electric light bulb.”

Time and time again, individuals are stopped along their journey because of a certain failure. Note that just because you failed once doesn’t mean you or your project are defined by the failures. It simply means, as Thomas Edison believed, you found one more way it can’t work. It also implies that you are one step closer to achieving the result.

The major step in overcoming the adversity that comes with persistence is clarifying your why. By identifying the purpose behind your goal, your “why” will push you through challenging times.

It is your persistence that can show passerby how passionate you are about a cause.

Let me share a personal story with you; as an author and prolific creative writer, I have always loved the idea of having a large audience reading my weekly contents. I decided to take the bull by the horns by visiting one of the biggest media houses in Nigeria (Sun Newspaper) to seek an opportunity to showcase my work. After engaging with one of the managerial editors, he advised me to send my weekly articles to him for review. The moral of this story is the importance of being persistent. No one embarks on a journey just to waste time and money on projects one is not passionate about.

Being persistent in life can help you to stand out among your peers, it will help you to secure promotions or job opportunities. It will also help you to grow personally and professionally.

To receive the blessings of persistence, one must set specific and measurable goals; one must have a positive mindset and outlook towards life; one must have a good support system in times of adversaries; one must learn from setbacks, challenges and experiences of life; one must be proactive by being flexible if initial plans don’t work as planned, and finally but not the least, one must endeavor to celebrate small wins.

Below are some reasons persistence is important.

Overcoming Obstacles: Persistence allows you to push through difficulties and obstacles, and also navigate round roadblocks.

Learning from Failures: Persistence helps you learn from your mistakes. When you encounter failures, you don’t see them as permanent defeats. Instead, you view them as experience and opportunities for growth and improvement. Persistence will make one gain valuable insights and refine one’s strategies.

Developing Resilience: Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Persistent individuals build resilience because they don’t let setbacks crush their spirit.

Inspiring Others: Do you know your persistence can motivate other people? When people see your relentless pursuit of a goal, they may feel inspired to overcome their own challenges.  Your example becomes a beacon of hope and determination to others.

Overcome Fear and Self -doubt

One of the biggest challenges one will face when developing persistence is overcoming fear and doubt. Fear can take different forms, such as the fear of poverty, fear of flying, fear of failure, etc.

For persistence to work, it requires dedication, determination, and a willingness to keeping going even when things don’t go as planned. With the right attitude, anyone can learn how to use persistence as a way of leading with failure and overcoming obstacles in their life.

Being persistent is necessary for any progressive being who wants to achieve success in life or their career because it will help the person to stay motivated, overcome obstacles, gain experience, and ultimately reach their goals and vision in life.

In leadership, persistence is determined by adversity, commitment to vision, resilience against criticism, in spirituality, persistence is determined when one’s faith and uncertainty is tested, or exercising patience when waiting for divine timing, as an entrepreneur, persistence is determined by one’s ability to be resilient during setbacks.

In conclusion, it is important to state that persistence is a critical trait for anyone who wants to achieve their goals and turn challenges into opportunities, staying motivated, and having a good support system to overcome any challenges because it requires dedication and commitment.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

Continue Reading

News

Food for Living: Of Fear and Faith

Published

on

By Henry Ukazu

Dear Destiny Friends,

Fear and faith are two great rivals in the affairs of man. Where one is found, the other takes a leave. They can either make or mar any progressive being, and anybody who truly wants to succeed must know how to activate and control the inherent powers of these two great forces.

According to Dr. Yomi Garnett, “viewed from a spiritual perspective, fear and faith can be said to be opposites…and what each of them brings to our life is also opposites. Fear can lead to failure, while faith will lead to conquest”.

Question: Do you want to live in fear, or would you like to be associated with a conquered fellow?

One of the major killers of vision is fear,  and one of the enablers of life is faith. When one is possessed with the spirit of fear, it will be difficult for that person to achieve their heart desires, but when one’s spirit is activated with the right amount of faith, even the highest fear will fade out.

One may be wondering, how fear and faith can be positively activated to attract success, ab at the same time be the destruction of man, if not properly managed.

What actually inspires a success-oriented mind? Obviously, several things activate one’s mind. To a lot of people, their greatest fears in life is poverty. These sets of people abhor being poor can mitigate their success in life, and as such they put in all their efforts to succeed.

To some, their greatest fear in life is failure. They can’t imagine the shame and defeat that come with failure, and as such they put in their best in whatever productive work they engage in.

Wen fear becomes extrem, it turns to phobia and dreaded. It’s instructive to note that some people have the phobia of height and flying. Some others have the phobia of pregnancy, traveling on water, approaching, or talking to people due to rejection, making mistakes, threading on new ground, among others.

To conquer this fear however, one needs to activate the inherent power of faith. Faith is the belief in what is not seen but hoped for. Any creative mind that wants to succeed in life must have faith not only in themselves, but in their businesses, academics, personal and professional developmental endeavours.

No great person has ever succeeded in life without faith. They believed in the possibility of their business even when there’s little or no hope of survival. They dared to succeed.

In contrast, fear has been th singular reason for most of the failures men have recorded. Some people even give up before they begin their project because of lack confidence and hope.

In some cases, this fear is projected by friends, family members, mentors or even trusted persons who don’t really know or understand what the person is working on. They just simply believe the project is bound to fail based on the prevailing circumstances or challenges surrounding the person or business.

This is how to activate and stimulate the subconscious and inherent power of faith. Imagine as a young man, you have interest in a lady, but you are wondering how to approach her considering her perceived response. It is not out of place to have a perception of the kind of respinse expected, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

One of the best things the guy can do is to dare to succeed by reaching out to the lady. In the worst-case scenario, the lady might say no. In that case, the man will be satisfied he tried his best because the worst feelings to have in life is the feeling of regret.

Alternatively, the lady might like the guy and just play to the gallery just to gauge the man’s intent and seriousness. If the latter is true, the man is deemed lucky for daring to ask.

As a student, business owner, parent, teacher, government official, or pastor just to name a few; if you have a project or task in mind, don’t allow the fear of failure, disappointment or obstacles to weigh you down, look into the future with bold eyes, and with the mindset of faith in the impossible.

In conclusion, fear and faith are two necessary criteria needed in the journey of life. The ability to nurture both will go a long way in shaping not only our personal lives, but also our professional lives.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

Continue Reading

News

Food for Living: The Power of Faith

Published

on

By Henry Ukazu

Greetings Destiny Friends,

“Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every journey of life undertaken without faith will surely end in frustration; nothing is guaranteed and there’s nothing worthwhile that can ever be achieved without faith. The reason is obvious; no one sees the end place before they begin a project. For instance, in business, one can never tell how far they can go if they do not begin; it is faith that makes a student believe a 4.0 or 5.O GPA on graduation is possible. It’s with faith an employee believes he will get to the managerial or topmost position in his field of endeavour.

Faith, ordinarily, is the capital to begin any enterprise, endeavour or life’s journey.

Let me make this disclosure, I’m nor referring to the spiritual kind of ‘faith’ in this article, rather I’m referring to the inspirational faith which progressive minds use to achieve the extraordinary.

It’s instructive to note that faith is a powerful force that can transform our lives and help us overcome obstacles. If you have a project or vision in mind you would like to accomplish, if you don’t have extraordinary faith, it will be hard to achieve your dreams.

Great and visionary leaders had absolute faith and believe in themselves and their projects. They were not deterred by the vicissitudes of life. As a matter of fact, they were inspired by their challenges because it enabled them to work hard.

According to NapoleonHill, in his book, Think and Grow Rich, “whatsoever the mind can conceive, believe, it can achieve it”. This tells you how powerful the mind is. It should be noted, success and failure start from the mind. If you believe you can do something, you will do it and if you believe you can’t do anything, trust me, you can’t do it. Even the Book of life states 1 John 4:4 that “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”.

What is faith? Faith is the confident belief in something that is not yet seen or fully understood. As mentioned earlier, without faith, it’s impossible to achieve any commendable feat. Uninformed minds think faith is having everything ready before they begin a project. They have this mindset, if all the t’s are crossed, and i’s are dotted, what’s left is do the necessary. They fail to understand that done is better than perfect when perfect is not done. Sometimes in life, you don’t wait for the coast to be clear before you can soar. 

Just imagine the ship thriving despite waves in the ocean and the plane flying the wind in the air. That’s simply how life works. We don’t give up due to the challenges of life. Sometimes, it’s through the challenges we are fashioned. It’s just like the gold and petroleum which must be processed before they become refined products. So also, we must pass through some challenges in order to be processed, refined and appreciated.

Furthermore, when one has faith and believes in a project, the universe has a way of bringing interested minds, who are either passionate about the project or cause to support the being.

One may be wondering how faith works, imagine being hungry as a student, one will not feel the hunger too much if one knows he has food in his refrigerator. Now compare that scenario to when there’s no food. My late mother will always say, the most painful part of being poor is, if one does not have money and doesn’t know anyone to borrow from. Trust me, it can be heartbreaking.

 The importance of faith cannot be overemphasized, faith gives us hope, it strengthens us, it brings blessings, and it inspires hope and confidence.

The power of faith can enrich one’s life in many ways. Here are some of the ways faith improves our work and life.

1. Faith Improves Your Daily Work

When you love what you do, you will be inspired to spend some time developing your project. Faith impacts what you do, how you do it and how you live your life.  With faith, you will be intentional. Faith keeps you going. If you want to do any task, you need to have faith that you will accomplish it. If you have faith, you feel motivated to get things done because the faith will serve as a propeller.

2. Faith Helps You in Difficult Times

There is a popular phrase, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” If you have faith, you will have hope, and hope will help you endure difficult times and uncertainties in life. Times can be bad, and you may find yourself drowning in despair. But never lose hope. Even when you lose your job, suffer the pain of losing a beloved, don’t have enough money, or face any other challenge, having faith means to release control to a greater power, the universe or God.

3. Faith Encourages Others

Do you know your faith can inspire and encourage others? Have you wondered how creative-minded people come up with new ideas or directions to take after failing multiple times?  They have faith that they can achieve their goal. No matter what comes their way, they remain focused and motivated, even after facing backlash from people. Their example can encourage others to follow the same path. You too can be the same way by having faith. People around you will learn from you. They will follow your lead. When you have absolute faith and believe in a project, people will notice.

4. Faith Gives You Courage

Courage helps you do the things that scare you. It plays a significant role in motivating you to act on something despite the risks or dangers involved. If you have courage, you show more strength in times of pain or grief. Courage comes directly from faith. For instance, you gather the courage to go on a job interview. You think you won’t get the job, but there is always a chance you will. You have faith in yourself and your abilities and take a bold step in going after the job, which can lead you to success.

5. Faith Helps you Discover Purpose

The ups and downs of life can take a toll on you. In some cases, it leads you to question why you’re here. But when you do, faith can save you from falling. It guides you to move in the right direction and helps you discover your purpose in life.

In conclusion, we all travel by air and trust the pilot to take us to our destination safely, we all use the sea and trust the captains to arrive safely, we all have faith that when we turn on the light, it will lighten up, why can’t we trust the creator we have not seen? When you trust the creator, believe in your project and believe in yourself, trust me, you will not only get to the promised land, but you will also exceed expectations.  According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

Continue Reading