Litigations: INEC To Blame For Judges’ Corruption, Stakeholders Tell Jega
Public commentators have blamed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the rash of litigations that usually follows the conduct of elections in the country.
They noted that if the elections had been transparent and standard there would have been fewer or no litigations to upturn the outcomes.
They were reacting to the argument by former INEC boss, Attahiru Jega, that judges were selling electoral cases for cash.
The former INEC boss was this week quoted as saying that “some senior lawyers have become stupendously wealthy defending corrupt public officials, or handling electoral litigation for governorship and presidential candidates”.
He had added that “many judges have become notorious for corrupt enrichment for ‘cash and carry’ judgments, especially in election matters generally and in election tribunals, more specifically”.
Jega, a former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, was said to have stated this in a lecture he delivered at the Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lecture organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan branch, as one of the events to mark its 2021 Law Week.
Comrade Alu Moses Odeh, National Leader, All Middle Belt Youth Forum (AMBYF) stated that Jega’s revelation was a medicine after death.
According to him, “A philosopher once said that the hottest part of hell should be reserved for those who have the idea, but kept silent during crises, when their ideas were needed most to quell the situation.
“If the INEC under him was really independent and gave every candidate a level playing field I don’t think there would be room for litigation to warrant election tribunal judges to sell cases.
“If he is sure of what he is saying, the law enforcement agents are there for him to make proper reports to.”
Chief Emeka Charles Kalu, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, in his reaction, said that Jega’s statement was not only true but had been the major setback of our nascent democracy.
He maintained that when the integrity of electoral tribunal judges, who are supposed to be salvagers of the injured and failed system remains shaky and questionable, it, therefore, depicts that the entire political system is totally jeopardised.
Chief Kalu, Director General, Global Initiatives for Good Governance (GIFGG), said that it was saddening and that indeed if the ugly trend was allowed to extend to 2023, it would ruthlessly scatter and destroy the entire political environment with the resultant effects on economy and the possibility of getting vultures and devourers elected.
Also, Rev RexKennedy Saltlove, Executive Director, Citizens Rights and Empowerment Advocacy Initiative (CREMA INITIATIVE), stated that Jega’s submission that some members of the judiciary appointed to the election tribunal had been compromising was a damning verdict on the integrity of the judiciary.
He said: “Jega just told us that justice is for sale in Nigeria and the common man and people who do not have deep pockets do not have hope in dispensation of justice which is sad.”
On his part, Hon. Dennis Adikwuru, a political activist and a PDP chieftain in Imo State, maintained that the statement credited to Jega regarding election tribunal judgments was nothing but an indictment of the judiciary.
Adikwuru stated: “The whole scenario is shameful and most unfortunate for our democracy wherein incompetent people take the centre stage of governance.
“I can say that Jega is merely crying over spilt milk as the judiciary under the present administration has compromised her autonomy and integrity.
“We do not see any meaningful impact of Jega’s outcry except for a clear cut confession and restitution for destroying the very fabric of democracy hinging on the will of the people.”