The fundamental basis for law and judicial process in civilized societies is to ensure order and rationality among citizens. The goal is to enshrine liberty and freedom in the psyche of the people so that growth, development and culture become the planks upon which the rationality and confidence of man is measured. And when the bell for justice rings, justice must answer to the call of the petitioner, the respondent and the society’s system. In other words justice is a 3 way traffic: justice for the accuser, justice for the accused and justice for the society. Therefore wherever and whenever justice fails to strike a balance among these calls, the humanity of man is queried, the civilization of society is undermined, chaos replaces order, and bestiality replaces values and gloom and uncertainty envelope society’s consciousness.
Sadly and painfully, these are what the Ondo State Gubernatorial election petition tribunal chaired by Justice Garba Nabaruma through its judgment has unleashed on the people of Ondo State and this is why we consider it extremely necessary as stakeholders to encounter, open up and engage the moral issues in the judgment in order to distill Ondo State from the froth of judicial poison and social disaffection which justice Nabaruma’s judgment portends. Our organization is a free association of members of the formal sector of the Ondo State economy with a commitment towards engineering a social, attitudinal and economic transformation of our state, through deliberate engagement of leadership issues and processes. Therefore the emergence and the conditions of emergence of leadership in our state, especially in the light of the complexities of the last elections is our business.
It is important for Nigerians to see our intervention and publication outside party politics and undue interest in either party of the case. Our intervention must be viewed as a patriotic call to resound, with the force of intellect and strength of history, the symptoms of the same disease and epidemic which unfortunately, Justice Garba Nabaruma inflicted on the people of Anambra state in his weak, widely condemned, judgment in 2004 removing Governor Chris Ngige from office as Governor. That controversial judgment virtually brought anarchy and chaos to the state. It nearly reduced that state to rubbles, putting the entire people under siege and fear. Thankfully Dr. Ngige appealed and Nabaruma’s wopt judgment was dis-regarded and overruled by the appeal court which upheld the legitimate election of the Governor. The rest as they say is now history but up till now Anambra state is still grappling with the dysfunctionality which Nabaruma’s flippancy created in their psyche.
The truth is that the poison in Nabaruma latest judgment in Ondo state consists of the stealing and silencing of the peoples’ voices through an intricate packing, packaging and patenting of the tribunal’s opinion in the sacred voice of justice. In colour, substance, procedure and entity the judgment was eccentric, illogical and lacks integrity. The amount of disaffection and anxiety it has brought on the otherwise peaceful Ondo state is mind boggling.
Governor Olusegun Agagu of the PDP, and Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of the LP have the right to seek adjudication in the tribunal but the Nabaruma’s tribunal has no right to substitute its own opinion for the law. It has no right to do anything which is unknown to law. It has no right to engage in judicial legislation, it has no right to create a gulf of confidence between the society and the temple of justice. It has no right to pronounce judgment which creates more problems that it seeks to solve. The issues which Nabaruma’s judgment open up and which we have brought to the public domain, constitute the moral burden which Nabaruma and his friends must carry. The following therefore consists of the issues as well as their implications for the well being of Ondo State and the judicial process.
1. Pronouncement of judgment.
In a case as sensitive and sensational as the gubernatorial elections and which affects the future stability and well being of Nigeria:
Is it proper for the Tribunal which took over14 months to hear the case and 3 weeks to prepare judgment, to in the open court read an abridged judgment which merely states and dwells on the petitioners prayers and also grants such prayers without recourse to the respondents’ defence and pleadings.
Is it moral and a part of the practice direction of the tribunal for a trial judge to give judgment without thoroughly and in details explaining the premises and procedure for his conclusions, only to come out after a week presenting suspicious details explaining his judgment?
Is it in the interest of a respondent and the judicial system and society as a whole, for a judge to pronounce justice for the petitioner without satisfying the open court and the respondent in situ about the details of the grounds used against the respondent?
Is justice based on vacuums, selected pronouncements, silences and irregular course?
1. This judgment undermines queries and condemns itself.
2. There is possibility of the judgment being compromised from the beginning.
3. Serious stain is cast on the thoroughness and fairness of the judicial system.
4. It removes the integrity of petitioner’s pronounced victory.
5. Suggests the power of tribunal to engage in judicial legislation.
6. Casts serious burden of integrity and credibility on the 609 page CTC of judgment promised for 2 hours after judgment but released one week after. It suggests that the body of the CTC is an afterthought and a contrived mean to justify the preconceived and pronounced judgment.
2. Judicial law making / judicial rigging.
The tribunal out rightly cancelled the elections in Ilaje and Irele Local governments on the grounds of electoral irregularities. It concluded that the gubernatorial elections in Ondo state were marred by irregularities in 11 out of 18 local governments. Going on a mathematical voyage of discovery, it cancelled 220,619 votes representing 63% of the PDP pre trial votes in the PDP/Agagu traditional strong base including his home town. Whereas it retained all the votes in the entire seven local governments’ labour party won before the trial, it cancelled 27,752 representing 12% of the labour party’s votes in the remaining 11 local governments won by Agagu. In other words the labour Party’s votes in all the 7 local governments were perfect, without disorder and were cast by saints and angels, whereas people of Agagu’s local government and district were so incensed by him that they sent the devils. In Ondo west local government the Labour party won with 43,887 votes while Agagu’s ilaje and Okitipupa kinsmen’s 45,158 and37, 484 votes respectively, for the PDP were cancelled among others. Worse still while the same tribunal upheld the elections of the house of assembly members in Irele and Odigbo local governments it cancelled out rightly the votes cast for the Dr. Agagu in the same local governments, same wards, same polling booths, same ballot boxes and same times and same conditions. In other words the judgment was fraught with inconsistencies the height of which can only be described as disgraceful and a grand conspiracy deigned and orchestrated to humiliate the people of Ondo state as if they are illiterates, nincompoops, idiots and strangers to common sense which we are not.
1 The judgments subvert itself and disclaims its own credibility.
2. Judgment took little cognizance of evidences pleaded, and accepted by the tribunal itself.
3. Tribunal subverts the rule of law and judicial independence by entering into judical lawmaking through an unwholesome and ludicrous mathematical voyage.
4. Judgment ridicules the judicial process by an uncanny redistribution of votes in a manner satirizing the historical judgment, rationality and political identity of the people.
5 Judgment suggests the presence of judicial compromise.
3. …. OF FLAMBOYANT COMMENTS AND ACERBIC STATEMENTS
While politicians of the two sides and indeed of any side of the divide have the right to play their games, they do not have rights to bring our common heritage, Ondo state, to disrepute, dishonour and low esteem by peddling half truths and lies and derogatory remarks about our state in the eyes of the whole nation. The above constitute the common sense upon which our Association derives its strength and civility, the violation of which is a no go area for anyone whether in office or not. Therefore we regret to rebuff and strongly denounce the untruths and intellectual idiocy which the Chairman of Labour party in Ondo State, Dr. Olaiya Oni peddles about Ondo state in a recent television interview. In that interview he said:
That nothing reasonable for the benefit of the people had been achieved in Ondo state in the last five years.
Those improvements in water and road situation in Ondo state are just television simulations.
That he wrote the roadmap to progress which is the guardian document of the Government policies and actions.
As an active participant in the project Ondo State, who are not only witnesses to events and history, we have also together with other interested pan Ondo state organizations engaged leadership across border either political ( including both Gov. Olusegun Agagu and Dr. Olusegun Mimiko), religious, professional and traditional in profitable interaction for the development of our state. And so for Dr. Olaiya Oni (who should have stood above politics of glass house) to have told the world lies upon lies is painful. The following constitutes the truth not as dictated by politics but by reality and observable evidences.
That more than 1000km of asphalted roads have been constructed in 5 years, with the newly dualised road right in front of Mr. Olaiya Oni’s Shopping complex and dead factory in along ilesa garage- road block axis in Akure, as well as the Olusegun Mimiko road in Ondo town some of the newly constructed roads.
That more than 500 blocks of six (6,000) classrooms have been constructed throughout all the 18 local government areas in Ondo state. Some of these classrooms are scattered in all the local governments including Olaiya Oni and even Mimiko’s local government enjoying an enviable share.
That our own independent assessment and report as well as the UNDP reports show more water accessibility for the people in Ondo State with more public taps running and more hinter places getting drinking water.
That our association was invited alongside other interest groups, by Dr. Olusegun Agagu in 2003, to send nominees and ideas to the policy drafting committee in 2003. The focus was to help arrest and sharpen ideas on how to run Ondo State for 4 years. The policies were evolved, debated, fine tuned and submitted in the public and before the open glare.
That Dr. Olaiya Oni must consider the embarrassment and insult his reckless statements would cause the collective sensibility of the Ondo state in Diaspora as much as he would consider the disgrace it would do him if he were to be reminded of the real truths of
- How he was disgraced out of Government as Secretary to Government by Col. Ekundayo Opaleye the then Military governor of Ondo State over matters of professional misconduct among which include highhandedness and half truth peddling.
- How his intrigues and gross misconduct was discovered and appropriate punishment meted out to him on the Fanibi layout scandal.
- How he had to carry the burden of several allegation of sexual misdemeanor with civil servants under him while he was in service.
- How Dr. Mimiko his current mentor betrayed and stabbed at the back every leader he ever served under. ( Ajasin, Olumilua, Adefarati, Agagu and Obasanjo)
- How Mimiko orchestrated the 500 million naira plot 90gate scandal against his then Governor Chief Adebayo Adefarati, in a bid to discredit the Governor thereby creating ways for him to emerge as the next candidate of the Alliance for Democracy.
- How Ali Olanusi the then Chairman of PDP in Ondo State chose to dump Agagu after taking a contract worth over 2 billion naira which he was eventually forced to execute.
4. FINAL CONCLUSIONS.
The fact of politics is the struggle for power, but the humanity of man remains the sacred index of our civilization. Our takes on the judgment of the electoral tribunal as well as the conducts of the dramatis personae is that none must insult the integrity, peace and potentials of Ondo state. none must reduce or annul the self esteem, high intelligence and love for good governance of Ondo state. Nabaruma’s judgment is an intense attempt to conflagrate Ondo state. There is nothing to celebrate about it. It neither justice (but judicial lampoon) for Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and the labour party, nor justice for Dr. Olusegun Agagu and the PDP (but judicial malfeasance), it is also certainly not justice for the society. The task of rescuing Ondo State from this precipice of historical distortion remains with the appellate court. As a stakeholder, we have bought a front row ticket as the drama unfolds