Open Letter To The Supreme Court Justices; National Judicial Council (NJC) And The Entire Judiciary In Nigeria
By Professionals For Good Governance and Social Justice (PGGSJ)
The destiny of a people is about to slip; hence, it is time for good men and women with virtue to rise in defense of our collective existence. Where evil thrives for too long, it is expected that something must be done to give hope and turn a new chapter. We have thought with pain for too long, how to reach out and appeal to the conscience of the entire judiciary in Nigeria to save the soul of the country from imminent and collateral damage in case they do not know or have refused to know or taken our current situation for granted.
The judiciary is one of the arms of government in any democracy that stands distinctly out. They exist to stabilize the polity, protect the downtrodden, give meaning to the rich, reassure hope, and separate every fight among individuals, groups, institutions as well and governments. All these powers rest with the Supreme Court and that is why they are called SUPREME. Anyone can reject any ruling/judgment from other lower Courts in Nigeria, hence, the opportunity for appeal, but once the judgment/pronouncement/ ruling comes from the Supreme Court, it is expected to be obeyed by both the government and others in the country.
Therefore, the judiciary is represented in this write-up by the Supreme Court as the most powerful arm of government. In any society where the executive and the legislature are more powerful than the judiciary, something must be wrong. Either the democracy being practiced is fake corruption is pervasive in the system the judiciary does not know its powers they are afraid to exercise such powers, or they have joined the corrupt government to serve the nation’s soured judgments. Whichever is the case, as identified above, it will not be a good sign to engender development. For a country to develop, there must be discipline on the part of individuals, groups, institutions, and governments. Such discipline is driven by adherence to the rule of law. Such laws are provided by the Constitution of Nigeria, Acts of the parliaments, administrative laws, rules and regulations as well as conventions.
It is the duty of the Courts to interpret these laws on their merits and to ensure that such laws are obeyed and enforced. When the Courts allow an individual, group, institution, or government to breach any of these laws and get applauded, know that the nation is drifting to the sideline and will not take too long for anarchy to surface.
It will be in our greatest interest if everyone’s attention is drawn to the February 25th, 2023, presidential election in Nigeria, as well as the activities before, during, and after the election. We saw the impunity displayed by the political class, and the collaboration with security agents and thugs to unleash mayhem on the citizens of Nigeria. We all saw the hijack of ballot boxes and destruction of election materials; we saw the killings and injuries sustained by Nigerian electorates at various pooling units. We equally saw the ethnic profiling and deprivation of many Nigerians from voting. We were not unaware of the abandonment of the use of the Bimodal Vote Accreditation System (BVAS) and multiple thumbprinting that existed in some pooling units during the election. We witnessed the counting of results and the inability of the BVAS to upload the results to the IREV at various pooling units. We also witnessed when electoral officers told the presiding officers to bring the pooling unit results to the collation centers at ward levels to upload. Nigeria saw the forceful hijack of some results and electoral materials at pooling units thereby depriving Party Agents of the opportunity to have copies of the result sheets and other electorates from snapping them with their phones. Further, Nigerians witnessed the alteration of those results by parties that benefited from them before security agents, some party agents, and some observers. We saw that some results were uploaded to the IREV while others took a very long time to upload, and the rest could not be uploaded to date. We witnessed that many results uploaded to the IREV did not tally with what we snapped from Form EC8As at the pooling units other results were blurred or empty and some had images not connected to the election. THERE IS NONE THAT NIGERIANS DID NOT SEE.
With the help of social media, we shared all that we saw on our platforms and the whole world got the evidence. Hence, it was easy for all the observers both local and international to align with the position that “the 2023 presidential election falls short of what any reasonable democracy can offer”.
When we witnessed our results being changed, we had two options available to us. First, was to resort to violence and destroy everyone involved in the malicious act, including the security agents, since we know and believe that no Army of a nation can be greater or more powerful than the collective resolve of the people. We knew and we were not afraid to act, but we put the nation first and took the second option as the best option. This second option was to take our matter to the judiciary which has all the powers to resolve the injustice. All Nigerian electorates would have taken the information we have to the Court but since the rules stipulate filing by lawyers, we allowed them to do their job.
When it comes to election matters, we ought to note the following:
1. It is the responsibility of everyone to prove irregularities and not abandon them for the Petitioners alone to prove. All of us witnessed the irregularities and atrocities committed during the election including the Justices of all Courts. We should all strive to prove them so that we don’t allow a criminal to preside over our affairs. Hence, the saying that “the onus lies on the person who alleges to prove should have limited application in electoral matters. The Court should attempt to unravel the truth where it exists and NOT wait for a Petitioner to supply all the evidence and equally convince them beyond every reasonable doubt.
2. The issue of technicality should play a limited role in deciding electoral cases because we are looking at the mandate of the people and not how professional the lawyers are in the presentation. The electorates that voted are requesting for their stolen mandate to be returned. The Justices presiding over the cases should have this in mind and focus on returning that mandate and not whether any lawyer complied with certain rules in the Evidence Act or not.
3. The Court should be alert to its responsibilities by asking the electoral body INEC that conducted the election to bring all materials used in collating results, counting, and declaration of the winner. There must be sufficient time for INEC to prove this before the Court. Instead of having this as the objective of the Tribunal, they sat back and expected the Petitioners to get the materials from INEC and even when INEC refused to furnish them, the Tribunal did nothing and proceeded with judgment, when the facts were still being hidden. Nigerians know that also.
4. Why we took the second option of presenting our matter to the Court instead of resorting to violence was because of BVAS. Nigerians knew that with BVAS, all stolen votes would be recovered by the Court if they wished to. With BVAS, you determine over-voting, and the law says cancel. For all polling units that voted without BVAS accreditation, the law says cancel. With BVAS, results are to be snapped and uploaded to IREV, where this did not happen, the Law says to investigate and punish anyone culpable. What we saw was the neglect of the BVAS by the Tribunal, where truth is found and proceeding with technical judgment. It was a collective shame that INEC being an institution of government gave certified blurred results, empty papers, and other images to a Petitioner as results gotten from IREV and the Judges accepted them without demanding the real results from Forms EC8As kept by INEC. This was the highest insult from INEC to the Court (1st), Nigerians (2nd), and Petitioner (3rd). The Tribunal swallowed the insult and proceeded with judgment.
5. Every law made has a reason for making it. The Court should focus on the reasons for the Laws and give interpretation to serve the purposes.
6. If the Law forbids someone with dual citizenship from being the President of Nigeria, what is the intention of such a Law? The intention is to prevent someone from being loyal to a country where he places allegiance and transferring national secret to that country or betraying one Country in favour of the other. If a Russian citizen becomes American president, he can transfer American Nuclear codes to Russian or other classified information. Therefore, it is the duty of everyone to investigate and find out if the candidate of the Party declared winner in the February 25th Presidential election has dual citizenship or not. A passport was presented, the only defense we saw was that it had expired. The Petitioner asked if passport expiration amounts to the expiration of citizenship. No answer was given, but the Tribunal held that the evidence was not properly presented as if it is to the advantage of the Petitioner alone if a citizen of another country ruling Nigeria is unraveled.
7. We saw when the issue of double or invalid nomination of the APC candidate was raised. This is clearly stated in the Electoral Act, but the Tribunal held that only the 1999 Constitution as Amended is before them but threw away the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines. Are we expected to make progress with this kind of judgment?
8. The issue of electoral fraud was raised by the Petitioner. Reports were presented that Pooling unit results in form EC8As were changed at collation centers. To perfect this, INEC intentionally switched off the IREV server to buy time in carrying out the crime but claimed that there was a glitch. An expert who is a staff of Amazon Web Services (AWS) that hosted the server testified before the Court that there was no glitch on the AWS Server / Network. Rather than focus on how to find the true position, the Tribunal dismissed the evidence simply because the witness was a member of the Labour Party. How does the witness Party membership affect her testimony? What other means did the Court use to know the truth? It is on record that TINUBU’s lone witness is an APC member and serving Senator, but his witness was not dismissed on Party membership. Is this the rule of law that we all yearn for?
9. It is equally disheartening that the Tribunal admitted that the APC candidate forfeited the sum of $460,000 as a result of Narcotic dealings in the USA but held that the Money committed the crime. Is this not laughable and a disgrace to the entire judiciary in Nigeria?
10. The issue of 25% in FCT has generated much debate, even by senior lawyers. This debate ensued because someone has been declared the winner by INEC already, therefore whoever will benefit from such a declaration will interpret it in favour of the status quo. Their position has been that FCT residents’ votes cannot be superior to those of other states. The spirit of the constitution cannot be to make FCT special and what if someone wins in 36 states and loses FCT below 25%, does it mean that FCT can deny the person President? Our only concern is to point something out there. The constitution did not make FCT superior to other states in voting. The constitution says candidates shall be declared President after scoring the highest number of votes cast and getting at least 25% of votes in 2/3 of the states and FCT. What this means is that 25% should be in 24 states plus 1 (FCT). Hence, in getting 25% in 25 states, let FCT be one of them. If FCT’s 25% has made it superior to other states, the superiority still exists in the other 24 states. The difference is that those states were not specified. the idea is to ensure the spread of voters to support a candidate who must be a President in terms of capturing different regions, ethnic groups, and languages, among others. Hence, Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory, housing the president and all ministers from different states, National assembly members from different regions, ethnic groups, and languages, among others, and headquarters of all Ministries where Civil/Public servants from all regions, ethnic groups, religions, languages among others work, has provided a veritable platform that the constitution is looking at, by expecting the candidate who has scored the highest number of votes to get 25% in 24 states. What the Constitution is looking for is already found in Abuja. That is why over the years, the indigenous communities in FCT have been relocated to suburbs, paving the way for Nigerians from other regions, ethnic groups, religions, and languages among others to inhabit. This was how the consideration of FCT was done. The interpretation should not be made based on sentiment. If this is not okay with the present Nigerians, the Constitution should be amended to read 25% in 25 states where FCT is regarded as a state. If this is done, the indigenes of FCT can demand to reclaim their lands donated with understanding to Nigerians from other regions, ethnic groups, religions, languages, etc. for the purpose of administering the country.
11. It is highly disappointing for people to witness crime, including the Judges and the Tribunal come up with the judgment that there was no crime. Next time, people will not take such matters to Court, and many will die in the field when they insist on resolving the issues on the spot. The blood of those who died or who will die because of poor judgment from Courts will be on the head of the Judges concerned.
12. We have heard several arguments that Nigerians are discussing the Court (judiciary) on social media thereby insulting the Judges. If the executive and the legislature can be discussed by Nigerians even on social media, why should the judiciary not be discussed? Should bad judgment be a result of a discussion on social media or the truth that is presented and sought by the Court?
This open letter is addressed to the Supreme Court to save this country by taking steps to discover the truth and return our stolen mandate.
a. INEC cannot hide our over 2.5 million votes from 18,088 pooling units and the Court gives judgment without first mandating INEC to bring those results. If 2.5 million votes are removed from any candidate’s score and added to any of the three leading candidates, it changes who won the election and Nigerians are waiting to get their results.
b. The Supreme Court should not hide under any Law to tell Nigerians that time has elapsed to present new evidence. All the results obtained from the election and canvassed by the Petitioners should be demanded by the Supreme Court. The results should be re-collected, recounted and the winner declared. Remember, the Supreme Court can make Laws and equally invalidate any law made based on the doctrine of necessity. Using elapsed time to deny Nigerians their rightful leader who won the election is tantamount to allowing a candidate who stole the mandate to rule that country rather than be in prison.
c. The issue of giving judgment based on National Interest should be done with clearly stated objectives. Is the insecurity that bad leadership in Nigeria has caused, the National Interest? Is the poverty in the land, killings, agitations, and growing divisions in the country, the National interest? Is election rigging, mandate stealing, and destruction of moral principles of the nation the National Interest? Are the occasional killings of our military and other security agents by criminal elements in the country based on poor leadership in the National Interest? Is the present cost of living in the National Interest? The National Interest upon which the judgment should be based is the collective will of Nigerians to usher in a new Nigeria, where there will be discipline, Rule of Law, peaceful coexistence, prosperity for all, and consideration of every section of the country in leadership.
No One Can Develop a Country With Stolen Mandate
d. The Supreme Court should not send Nigerians into the conduct of another election (rerun) when our votes are hidden in INEC headquarters.
e. The present INEC leadership should be not allowed to conduct another election in Nigeria having supervised the worst election ever held in the country.
f. Validation the PEPT judgment will amount to reversing all the gains made in electoral reforms in Nigeria. Electoral Act was passed in 2018 that guaranteed electronic accreditation/transmission of results, President Buhari refused to sign. INEC kept server for upload of results in 2019 election which was done by presiding officers. INEC denied the existence of the server and the Court held that it was not part of the then Electoral Law. From that 2019 to 2022, several efforts were made to Pass new Electoral Act and assented by the President. In February 2022, such long efforts were achieved, hence, The 2022 Electoral Act. Every effort in getting the Electoral Act and INEC published guidelines is to ensure transparency of voting, counting and declaration of results/winners. If Supreme Court agrees with Tribunal on this because of one person, all effort of over 220 million Nigerians in getting our elections right will be proved abortive. Next time, INEC will abandon BVAS accreditation and do manual marking of register where ballot boxes and papers will be hijacked, & multiple thumb-printing will be recorded. The blood of people that will die in fighting for election will be on the Judges’ heads.
g. Nigerians have downloaded the results from IREV and saw the mess by INEC which we expect the Court to correct. The Petitioners have presented evidence through their witnesses, a professor of mathematics proving that Labour Party won in Rivers, Benue, among others from the IREV copy uploaded by INEC hence, the Court ought to have intensified effort to ascertain the remaining fraud, to retrieve Nigerians’ mandate. Rather, they discarded the witness on the basis of not including him in the Petitioner brief.
h. The Supreme Court is the highest Court of the land with great powers. A pronouncement to sack a government with stolen mandate will take effect immediately. Nigerians beg on you to conquer every obstacle to this mission. No one will threaten you more than your conscience. The fact that many believed that the judiciary in Nigeria has been pocketed by the executive can be corrected now. Are you not tired of the situation in Nigeria? It is either the Supreme Court or Revolution that can save us. The price of the latter is too high; hence we resort to appealing to your conscience to help us achieve a new Nigeria where our collective greatness will be achieved.
Peter Obi won the presidential election of February 25th, 2023 and INEC is hiding the results in their headquarters. We have seen the ones from IREV where Peter Obi won in many areas, but INEC declared other things. Help us to get them so that Nigerians will not be tempted to go to INEC Headquarters physically to get the results. The price of the latter will be too high, and the Supreme Court will not like us to do so.
We have put several efforts to achieve a new Nigeria. First, we ensured the passage of the 2022 Electoral Act. Second, we turned out en masse to register to vote. Third, we queued to collect our voters’ cards (PVCs), notwithstanding the obstacles. Fourth, we campaigned for our candidate in a Political Party different from APC and PDP without anyone elected on that platform. Fifth, we deployed our resources devoid of stolen money from government to ensure widespread campaign. Sixth, we did millions of matches across the length and breadth of Nigeria to sail our candidate. Seventh, we protected our candidate with our lives, when we were not sure what the security agents would do since they serve the government that we want to retire. Eight, we voted en-mass during the election in a manner that has never been done before in Nigeria. Ninth, we ensured that we gathered evidence of the election electronically as much as possible.
However, INEC switched off the IREV server and stole our mandate. In a bid to pursue them, they made several mistakes in collating and tabulating the results. That is why we want the SUPREME COURT to revisit the matter and get our results out. It is an insult to the Judges for INEC to look them on their faces and gave Blurred results to Labour Party to submit to them. Judges saw the unreadable blurred results and applauded INEC for doing so. Does this Act not make the Tribunal an accomplice to the Electoral Fraud of February 25th, 2023? INEC destroyed our dream of getting a new Nigeria where things work for everybody. The Tribunal has energized INECs effort to steal our mandate. We appeal to the Supreme Court to help us retrieve the mandate.
This Is the Right Thing to Do. This Is What Our Founding Fathers Want Us to Do. This Is How to Build a Great Society. The World Will Hail You for Your Bravery.
Dr Ben Chukwu, Convener.
Mr I. Emmanuel, Secretary.