A clique has hijacked Nigeria

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Read Time:30 Minute, 39 Second

What gives you the confidence to speak in this manner?
I have the official results. People voted for me. I ran a campaign in Kaduna State that has never been witnessed in this part of the country. We used a convoy of about 300 vehicles. We slept on the roads. Everywhere we went to, every village and every community, people were trekking for five, six or seven kilometers, both the young and the old to receive us enmasse. It’s the people’s vanguard. I don’t have the resources to do that. In every occasion, you find people contributing money to receive us or to finance the vehicles and people were fuelling their cars, abandoning their businesses, abandoning their trades and were all within the nooks and crannies of Kaduna State. So, if anybody could come out and say he has won, in what part of Kaduna State did he win?

Let them come and tell the people we have won Zaria Local Government. The people will say no, we know the result of our votes. We didn’t vote you or do we have any hidden spirit that came and voted you in. that is why we went to court. At the end of the case, nobody could come and testify that Sha’aban is claiming to have won this area. It’s a lie; these are the official results which shows he didn’t win there. We challenged for two years. All they kept talking is on technicalities: we didn’t dot the I, we didn’t cross the T and we didn’t do this and that was how they threw out the cases that we couldn’t file it on time. After these years, even the motion that we didn’t file on time was brought in and contested at the tribunal and the lower tribunal upheld that we filed at the right time and the case continued, only for it to surface again in the Court of Appeal. Is that justice? We rest our case in God Almighty Allah.

Generally, what is your comment. I know you have said something about the outcome of the case. But if you want to paint a general scenario of what happened, what would be your remark?
My greatest shock and my greatest dismay is the way and manner the judiciary is going about. Should there be any chaos in Nigeria today; should there be any misgiving, whether economic or social, the Nigerian judiciary should hold itself responsible. It is the Nigerian judiciary, not the Nigerian Police; not the Nigerian Civil Servant; not the Nigerian business circle; not the Nigerian teaching sector; it is the Nigerian judiciary that is killing Nigeria because the court is the last point for an ordinary citizen. It is where every citizen goes for redress. If the court cannot defend the defenseless; if the court cannot uphold the rule of law, then where lies the nation? Where lies the society? We have completely derailed. If there is any chaos today in Nigeria, it is the judiciary that will hold itself responsible. Whatever hardship and unforeseen circumstances that are happening today, if they are likely to happen tomorrow, it is the Nigerian judiciary that should be held responsible.

Part of the reasons why they threw out the case yesterday was that it didn’t come by way of an interlocutory appeal and that you had no right. What do you have to say to that?
It is an unfortunate situation when you find Justices of the Court of Appeal misrepresenting facts before them by the appellants. They claim that there was a preliminary objection, which the appellant did not reply to; therefore, the appellant is deemed to have accepted, saying that the appellant had no right to present an interlocutory appeal to their Honourable Court. What we have before you is our letter [showing the reporter the interlocutory letter of appeal] to the Court of Appeal dated 27th February 2009, signed and received by them, which contained the appellants argument as well as an authority from the Supreme Court, read by Muhammed Lawal Uwais, then Chief Justice of Nigeria saying that the appellant has a constitutional right under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in section 233(2)(a) and (c).

The Court of Appeal said he doesn’t have a right to appeal for interlocutory appeal. But what they ended up doing was to breach my constitutional right to fair hearing because, obviously, the Court of Appeal is not superior to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and they are not superior to the Supreme Court. If the 1999 Constitution gives you a right, the Court of Appeal cannot take it away. If the Supreme Court has interpreted it to mean that you have that right and you don’t even need their permission to get the right. What they said is they are not going to follow the Constitution, they are not going to follow what the Supreme Court says. They are denying you your right. That is what we have to say about the interlocutory appeal.

On the substantive appeal, the Court of Appeal further went on to say we are not bound by any enactment of the National Assembly, which the Electoral Act is; we are not bound by the interpretation Act, which is an enactment. We will do what we want to do. We are not bound by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, though being a lower court. It has been shown to them that an enactment by the National Assembly can only be interpreted by the interpretation Act, which the National Assembly themselves did. That is to say we make laws and this is the key to interpreting our laws. The key word there is shall. It is a mandatory thing for you to use interpretation Act anywhere you are interpreting a statute or an enactment.

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