Imo Guber Litigation: S/ Court Must Restore Judicial Integrity

Imo Guber Litigation: S/ Court Must Restore Judicial Integrity

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has warned that loss of confidence in the justice system is a recipe for anarchy.

Justice Tsoho gave the warning in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital while speaking at the 2023 sensitisation seminar organised by Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for Federal High Court judges.

He stressed that judges must seriously guard against delays in the dispensation of Justice for the system to move fast.

His words: “It is significant to emphasise that when a bank fails, it takes a large part of the economy with it. The collapse of an institution could cause money supply to drop, leading to rise in unemployment.

“Loss of confidence in the justice sector is a recipe for anarchy. Strengthening depositors’ confidence in banks and other financial institutions through speedy dispensation of justice remains a vital part of ensuring financial stability.

“Inordinate delays culminating in a backlog of cases constitute the greatest challenge before the courts and this easily erodes public confidence in the Judiciary.

“Judges must seriously guard against available delays in the dispensation of justice.

“The importance of the seminar for judges of the Federal High Court on Deposit Money Insurance as drawn out from the theme of the seminar, ‘Strengthening depositors’ confidence in Banks and other financial institutions through speedy dispensation of Justice’, cannot be over-emphasised at this time.

“On the one hand, assurances of confidence and trust is necessary to assuage growing and strident fears by depositors about internet fraud, insider dealings, and tampering with depositor’s money, mismanagement, security of such monies and items of value and other deposits in the custody of the banks and other financial institutions.”

Tsoho noted that the seminar also provided grounds for FHC Judges who are also citizens of Nigeria and who are not unaware of those problems, to discuss and review the various approaches to strengthen the regulatory framework and functions of the NDIC at occasions where cases and applications were filed before them for the necessary orders and decisions to be made.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called upon the Supreme Court of Nigeria to uphold its commitment to justice and maintain the scheduled October 31, 2023, date for hearing the pending Imo gubernatorial suits. HURIWA, in a strongly worded statement, expressed deep concerns about allegations of undue influence and attempts to shift the date for the hearing, to a later date after the November 11th governorship elections in Imo State.

The Supreme Court had set October 31, 2023, as the date for hearing two separate appeals filed in 2020. These appeals seek to determine the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election, an issue that has remained contentious and a source of political instability in Imo State. This decision to fix a date for hearing the cases comes after years of uncertainty, providing a ray of hope for the people of Imo.

HURIWA, a prominent human rights organization in Nigeria, revealed it has been actively advocating for a resolution to these pending cases, recognizing their fundamental impact on the state’s political stability. “The two appeals are a direct result of judgments delivered by the Supreme Court in late 2019 and early 2020, which had far-reaching consequences.

“In late 2019, the apex court disqualified Uche Nwosu from contesting the 2019 gubernatorial election. This ruling was based on Nwosu’s double nomination by the APC and the Action Alliance (AA), a move deemed unconstitutional and in violation of electoral laws.

“Subsequently, in early 2020, the Supreme Court removed Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from his position as the elected governor. The court declared Hope Uzodimma of the APC as the winner of the 2019 governorship election. However, dissatisfaction with how Uzodinma became the APC gubernatorial candidate led to a motion on notice filed by the PDP and Action People’s Party (APP) in 2019. They sought the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the judgment that held Nwosu as the APC’s candidate but disqualified him due to dual nominations by APC and AA.

“Another motion on notice was filed by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Philip Umeadi SAN, who asked the Supreme Court to interpret the judgment that disqualified Nwosu and to enforce this judgment regarding the APC’s participation in the 2019 Imo governorship election”.

HURIWA emphasized that justice delayed is justice denied, and the people of Imo State deserve a prompt resolution to the ongoing political impasse. The organization further stressed that the international community is closely watching Nigeria’s efforts to maintain a credible democratic process, and any perceived irregularities could damage the country’s reputation.

Furthermore, HURIWA urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to resist external pressure and ensure the timely hearing and determination of these crucial cases. The organization stressed that the Supreme Court’s commitment to justice is paramount to restoring the confidence of the people of Imo State in the judiciary.

The statement signed by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, also exposed an alleged move by some individuals to influence the Supreme Court into changing the hearing date The organization revealed that significant amounts of money were being used to manipulate the process, with the apparent aim of delaying the hearing until after the November 11th governorship election, which would render the entire process meaningless.

In their final plea, HURIWA urged the Supreme Court not to bow to external pressure but to ensure the timely hearing and determination of the two pending motions. This, they argued, is essential to permanently settle the political impasse in Imo State and to maintain the credibility of Nigeria’s democracy in the eyes of the international community.

“It is essential to acknowledge that this matter has been pending for three years, during which the Supreme Court had not taken action to hear the cases. Now, as the court finally shows its willingness to address these crucial issues, any deviation from the set date would be a severe blow to the court’s already battered image and credibility.

“Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done, especially in matters that have caused significant political instability. The people of Imo State and the international community are closely watching the proceedings, and any perceived irregularities could erode trust in the Nigerian judiciary”, HURIWA concluded.

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