As we approach the start of a new political dispensation, the world awaits to see great things unfolded by the most populous black nation. Without discrediting the ongoing legal tussle to determine who won the Presidential poll on the 25th of February, 2023, Nigerians are also aware that the proverbial show that must go on is gradually coming to fruition.
On the 29th of May 2023, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be sworn in as the President-elect of the keenly contested 2023 Presidential election (bar any unforeseen treasonable attempt). With so much fanfare, unparalleled turnout and a momentous social media war between opposing supporters, the election happened with indelible traces of unfairness, incredibility and intimidation at all levels. The exclusive right given to all citizens to play their role in terms of providing eyewitness reports, collating on-the-scene results and monitoring proceedings in real time made it extremely hard for INEC to cover up the mess and cry foul when people accused the electoral body of partiality, conniving with the ruling party to rig election results as well as make patriotic finders of grace in inglorious polls to be villains. In all, the continuity of government seems to be on track. According to the same embattled not-so-independent electoral body, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressive Party polled 8,794,726 votes to win the election. While Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party came second with 6,984,520 votes, Peter Obi of the Labour Party was third with 6,101,533 votes.
Jealously minding her business was the judiciary when she heard her name in the public space as winners told unhappy losers to pay her a visit. Known to be receptive to new visitors, she took it upon herself to accommodate the prayers of complainants who found irrepressible faults in the election that brought the soon-to-be sworn-in President. As a regular host of these matters, she is on the verge of giving a milestone verdict in the annals of the judicial system history. The reality of her verdict will either be business as usual or the most remarkable judgement – depending on the view of neutrals, plaintiffs and defendants.
With rapt attention, the winning faction’s popular response to losers “go to court” has been obeyed by the displeased parties to know who was robbed and who aided the robbery of a supposed democratic nation’s poll. While we wait for justice to prevail, it is pertinent for us as citizens to keep calm without using violence to instil peace. It is left to see this current sensitive period of the judiciary where everyone is relatively concerned about the possible outcome to its end. There is no iota of doubt that the eventual verdict will set a new benchmark – either emboldening anomaly and further dashing the hope of Nigerians in the judiciary or revamping the arm of government saddled with the responsibility of giving true hope in justice delivery without any clout from power grabbing individuals/institutions.
The glory days of judicial excellence must be restored, at least with an intentional effort to cleanse the law sector from its mess. Still unknown who will occupy the apex judicial seat, the improvement of justice with quick race remains the paramount headache of the new dispensation. It should not be surprising when we begin to see more alarming cases in court. Neither should the thought of criticizing the emanation of such cases take centre stage in our scheme of social commentary. As humans, it is impossible to alter the heart of man from doing evil or good. Specifically, the 2023 elections showed us the severity of ties between good citizens and shameless breeders of evil. Our focus as people should be on regular assessment of our immediate court proceedings and full involvement in the decision-making that is available around us; in this case, knowing the guides of customary courts and their powers in adjudicating on both civil and criminal cases. This will ultimately provide citizens at the grassroots level with the intrinsic peculiarities of the legal system at the primary level.
With this in mind, it will no longer come as a surprise when certain changes are made, as we already know what occasioned such change and its impact on the judicial system at all levels. More so, ensuring that we don’t hesitate to make known areas where the law has been blighted by irregularities that portend wages of draconian law and ugly precedents is a great way to put judicial officials in the cage of public scrutiny when their actions scream flouting of basic principles of their profession. The disturbing nugget of powerful and wealthy individuals cajoling judges to give diabolic judgement or surrendering a matter to the technicalities without considering the facts is an attainable feat. Not dismissing pockets of such happening, it should not be a regular narrative that the judicial system is known for striking out cases on merit – whether high-profile criminal cases or lowly rated civil cases.
Justice delivery should be no respecter of tribe, background, belief, religion or class. As the sixteen head of government gets into office and the tenth National Assembly commence their primary duty of law-making, the judiciary has also been gifted an opportunity to take us out of an improperly ventilated judicial room by providing a breath of fresh air. Whatever human or policy clogs were in the wheel of progress, it is up to the new leadership of the judiciary to address these problems from the roots before they grow into unsurmountable forests.