Kaduna Guber Petition: Between Technicalities And The Merit

Kaduna Guber Petition: Between Technicalities And The Merit

By Musa Abdullahi

In the past, many political parties and politicians suffered in the hands of the judiciary against the wishes of the people, as technicalities were put above the merit of a petition in the court of law, especially in the last – and overlapping to the present political dispensation were merit of a petition is being relegated to the background.

But changing the narratives, the Supreme court in the case of Kano, Zamfara, Plateau and others looked beyond technicalities that is either occasioned by the electoral umpire, political parties or the counsels to the petitioners by upholding the truth and looked into the merit of the petition as against the verdict of the Tribunal and the Appeal Court.

No doubt, many found the Supreme Court judgement so gripping that they couldn’t believe it.

This act of putting the horse before the cart ( Technicalities above the Merit ) has always been the basis and the grounds for the manipulations of election results, especially by the people in the position of power; who always said: ” Let us rig the elections, then we will knock them out on technical ground at the Court”, and until the judiciary wakes up to live up to the expectations of Nigerians, and by extension the world at large, the trend of imposition of unpopular candidate on the electorate may not end soon.

However, considering the obvious MERIT in the case of Hon. Isa Ashiru; the candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in the last gubernatorial elections in Kaduna state which shows that HE truly won the majority lawful votes in the state, as put many to still wonder why the petition was thrown out on the basis of technicalities of abandonment by a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, as against (merit) the available body of facts put before the Court by the petitioners.

But today, the hope of the Kaduna people as again rising, with the desire that the Supreme Court will get it right, just like it did in the case of Kano and others. Hon. Justice, Inyang Okoro’s led panel is already leaving no one in doubt that the judiciary is in the process of

redeeming the image of the judiciary and cleansing the rot in the system.

In the last few days, the Supreme Court has received commendations far and wide for her meticulous judgements in the said states, and this is expected of her in the coming days when Kaduna, Ogun and Nasarawa state judgements are expected to be delivered by the Supreme court.

According to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, sometimes in October 2023, he cautioned judges against allowing technicalities to impede the course of justice delivery, while also saying that judiciary must live up to the expectations in the discharge of its onerous responsibilities.

“Judges must be proactive by not allowing technicalities to stand against substantive justice,” the CJN said.

But in contrary, the Court of Appeal in its judgement in the case of Kaduna guber petition based its verdict on technicalities of abandonment despite the evidences by the petitioners, alleging that some polling unit results were wrongfully cancelled; insisting that there were inconsistencies in accreditation records from INEC, and while also the issue of conflicting results was part of the petitioners’ prayers. Despite all of these, the horse was still put before the cart

Just as many people blamed the judiciary for not upholding the truth, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also done more damage to the nation’s reputation by not strictly adhering to the provisions of the Electoral Act and her guidelines.

In the last Kaduna guber elections, many irregularities were pointed out by the petitioners in their prayers, but they were ignored by both the Tribunal and the Appeal Court. Also part of the prayers of the petitioners was that even the IREV portal shows that the candidate of the PDP won the election, and this was not also attended to by the lower courts.

In many polling units across the state, unlawful cancellation of election results were carried out in the PDP strongholds with a view to suppressing their votes.

But to a very large extent, what is on the lips of the people of Kaduna state is that the Supreme Court should not allow technicalities to stand against substantive justice in the case of Hon. Isa Ashiru – a man who had suffered electoral injustice in the last years.

Musa Abdullahi writes from Kaduna state

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