Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

 

Supreme Court Case Study: Wike Vs Peterside

The Supreme Court decision is at variance with the election that had been described by many observers as the most rigged election ever conducted in Nigeria . . .

In Bush v. Gore (2000), a divided United States Supreme Court ruled that the state of Florida’s court-ordered manual recount of ballot votes in the 2000 presidential election was unconstitutional. The case proved to be the climax of the contentious presidential race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush. There were charges of voter intimidation, ballot rigging – all manner of political shenanigans. The U.S. Supreme Court based its decision on the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The U.S. apex court remanded the case for further proceedings not inconsistent with the majority opinion of the Justices but Al Gore conceded defeat.

US . Al Gore & George W. Bush

Although of a different class and status but of an analogous parallel, in Rivers State; in Wike vs Peterside (2016), the Nigerian Supreme Court in their “well considered” decision set aside the decision of the Election Tribunal and Appeal court on the subject matter but affirmed the election of Governor Nyesom Wike as a legitimate and proper one. This decision by the apex court is at variance with the election that had been described by many foreign and domestic observers as the most murderous/destructive, violence/arson-filled, and manipulated/rigged election ever conducted anywhere in Nigeria.

In Bush v. Gore, it was claimed that the majority opinion emerged from conservative Republican Justices ruling against Gore for partisan reasons. That decision prompted strong reactions from many scholars and pundits. Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz wrote: “The decision in the Florida election case may be ranked as the single most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history . . . the majority justices decided as they did because of the personal identity and political affiliation of the litigants. This was cheating, and a violation of the judicial oath.”

Many Americans said the Supreme Court’s decision on December 12, 2000 may have reached the right result for the wrong reason. Others criticized the decision as hypocritical and politically opportunistic. Five justices of the majority were Republican appointees and Bush was/is a Republican. In the concluding lines of his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens proclaimed that “one thing . . . is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the Rule of Law.”

wike-and-Peterside

Photo: Nyesom Wike & Dakuku Peterside

Dakuku Peterside may be a sore loser but he alleged that Governor Nyesom Wike met Justices of the Supreme Court in Mbaise and Owerri in Imo State; Dubai and Saudi Arabia; before the January 27, 2016 judgement that upheld Wike’s election. Peterside said that these Justices were in the panel that decided the matter in Wike’s favour. According to him, Wike confessed that Dr. Peter Odili and his wife, Justice Mary Odili (a Justice of the Supreme Court) were his advisers. Jurist and constitutional law expert, Prof. Itse Sagay SAN said, inter alia: “The judgements are very perverse, particularly relating to . . . Rivers. Everybody knows that there were no elections . . .”

The implication of this judgment is hinged on Wike’s Appeal, which was on the non admissibility of the card reader as part of the election guidelines as enshrined in the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The Supreme court agreed with Wike and discarded the use of card reader. With this decision, the apex court may have returned INEC to the era of manual accreditation and validation of voters card.

The apex court said, inter alia, that Peterside and APC failed to prove their case of malpractices and non-compliance as required; the Election Tribunal and Appeal Court were wrong in predicating their decisions on the petitioners’ claim that INEC officials failed to adhere to the commission’s manual, guidelines and directives on the exclusive use of the card reader for accreditation. The court reiterated its position that card reader was not a sufficient replacement for manual accreditation. It held that non-compliance with INEC’s manual and guidelines by its officials was not a sufficient ground to void the election. Wike enthused afterwards that the Supreme Court averted bloodbath in Rivers State by canceling rerun. He failed to mention the copious evidence of irregularities, heavy human and material casualties during the election. Was the judgment based on averting bloodbath or Rule of Law?

Supreme Court . Nigeria 1

Supreme Court of Nogeria . Chambers Room

Photos above: Nigerian Supreme Court entrance (with ‘Lady Justice’) & chambers courtroom.

Only the sculptured and blindfolded “Lady Justice”, an allegorical personification of justice and moral force in judicial systems, holding in her hands, balance scales and a sword; which adorns the entrance to the Supreme Court, can decipher whether the Supreme Court’s decision was a product of justice. Suffice it to say that there is no allusion to travesty or miscarriage of justice by the learned Supreme Court Justices hereto. Supreme Court decisions are reached by voting and it is impossible to divorce judicial decisions from treacly politics, in spite of “Rule of Law”. No judicial decision is hallowed, although final, but triers-of-facts are human. Aspersions on critics of the decision are misplaced. Politics and Law are inseparable. In Bush v. Gore and Wike vs Peterside, majority of the Justices were appointed by the Republican Party and the Peoples Democratic Party, respectively. Were the electoral shenanigans in Rivers State resolved by a political or judicial decision?

______________________________________________________________

By Nnamdi Ebo | Political scientist | Legal scholar | ThisDay contributor | Online newspaper publisher | Blogger | Social analyst