By Olugbenga Salami
The Coalition For the Protection Of Democracy, COPDEM, has called for judicial amendments and electoral reforms to project rule of law and democracy in Nigeria.
According to the group, the Supreme Court judgment which upheld the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, dismissing all appeals challenging the February 25 elections, has made Nigerian jurisprudence a laughing stock in the global community.
Addressing journalists on the apex court’s verdict midweek in Abuja, the COPDEM spokesperson, Mr. Great Imo Jonathan, said that the Coalition’s intention was to take the country back from the hands of those that had ruined it.
The group affirmed that by the verdict, the Supreme Court had chosen to invert common sense, throw reason, logic, and principles of justice out of the window.
It expressed serious concerns that the judgement was inadvertently a subtle means of legalising forgery, identity theft, perjury and electoral illegality in Nigeria, as there apex court did not recommend any sanction in its judgement.
COPDEM, therefore, called on all Nigerians in authority to heed the call of Hon. Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, to amend the laws and rescue our judiciary from the present and future embarrassment.
Jonathan said, “Despite global outcry, the Supreme Court, like the Appeal Court before it, chose to make the Nigerian jurisprudence a laughingstock of the global community.
“In reaffirming Chief Bola Tinubu as the duly elected President in the presidential election of 25, February 2023, the Supreme Court has chosen to invert common sense, throw reason, logic, and principles of justice out of the window.
The Supreme Court decision has simply legalised forgery, identity theft, perjury and electoral illegality in Nigeria! As Nigerians, we ask, please, what is law and why do we go to court?
“To a lay man, law is simply the ratification of those common convention, principles, ethics, and mores we have all chosen to live by as humans in a society. We make them into a document and create infrastructures and institutions to interpret them whenever there is need for clarity.
“Therefore, the court, as such institution, carries the burden of reminding us why we are humans and how far we have travelled from primitivity, as hunters, gatherers, wanderers that are not bound by laws but simply living in a Hobbesian state of nature.
“The court and laws are there to inhibit by punishing such primitive tendencies to ‘snatch it,’ ‘grab it’ and ‘run with it’ like we saw on 25 February this year. Courts and laws should exist to chide, reprimand, and necessarily sanction actors of such conduct, either as individuals or as institutions.
“The law reminds of the need to set standards and follow them strictly. When the law and courts fail to do their duty, anarchy prevails, general disillusionment about the place of the once hallowed temple of justice sets in. We begin to see good as bad, and bad as good.
“The character of Judges is public property. Justice must be rooted in confidence, and confidence is destroyed when right- minded people go away thinking: ”The Judge is biased”. – See: Bakare vs. Apena 4 NWLR (part.33) page 1SC.
“To our utter dismay, eternal shame and pain, the Supreme Court, in its recent judgment in affirming Tinubu as president has set a dangerous precedent where no matter the gravity of an alleged offense, the suspect can readily escape justice if he is smart enough to plead technicalities.
“With due respect to the Supreme Court Justices, forgery in election matters is not same as forgery in criminal law. In the case of SALEH V ABAH (2017) The Supreme Court treated forgery under the electoral act as it is provided under same act.
“According to the presiding justice in the case, he stated ‘We have reiterated on several occasions that ours is not only a Court of law but public policy. Forgery of certificate for the purpose of election and electoral processes and forgery under criminal law are not the same issue. Forgery under the Electoral Act is a specific law on forgery or presentation of a forged certification for the purpose of election.
“The best forum for electoral forgery is election tribunal as against general criminal trial. This is what played out, rightly in this appeal. The Supreme Court treated the issue of Tinubu’s forgery as if under the criminal law.
“What the electoral act is saying is different from what the law of forgery under criminal law has provided, the court if not biased should interpret the law as it is, anyone who has presented a forged certificate should be disqualified from contesting for any office within Nigeria.
“We hereby call on all Nigerians in authority to heed the call of Hon. Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, to amend the laws and rescue our judiciary.”