Following the ruling by the Supreme Court pronouncing Hope Uzodinma as governor of Imo State, Nigerian lawyers have reacted to the judgment.
Speaking to reporters, the lawyers said while the court judgment was final, the court should maintain the precedent and be bold to upturn election results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Mike Ozekhome (SAN), posited that though the ruling of the apex court was final, legal experts and analysts must critically discuss the judgment to ascertain whether the court was right.
He said, “The Supreme Court is final. As the apex court itself once said, Adegoke Motors Case, the Supreme Court is final in the sense of real finality.
“It is final not because it is infallible; it is infallible because it is final”. It has spoken. I believe in the rule of law.
“I believe in obedience to court orders, however unpalatable to the loser. Obedience to court orders is one of the inescapable building blocks of any constitutional democracy.”
On his part, Ayo Ademiluyi posited that, “It emphaises the power of the judiciary in determining the fate of our political elite.
“Most importantly is the fact that electoral manipulation in this part of the world if checkmated by judicial activism can be eliminated.
“The judiciary in the year 2020 in collaboration with the bar must ensure the enforcement of court order and a situation where our judges don’t stand up to executive recklessness would only breed anarchy.”
Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, hailed the court for dealing with the matter rather on technicality as he said same should be used for subsequent cases.
He said, “The judgment is actually unprecedented because this is the first time Supreme Court has nullified an election in an election petition to remove someone declared by INEC.
“The previous instances were pre-election matter, matters relating to political parties or who was the candidate of the party.
“I found it particularly interesting that we are now seeing what is clearly a departure from precedent.
“I have been particularly observant of the trend in the Supreme Court where it seems that every person that is declared by INEC, the Supreme Court was almost certain to affirm such election, so this judgment was a departure from the norm.
“It does appear that the Supreme Court validated election in hundreds of polling unit where INEC had declined to announce results arriving from those polling unit, which of course, court has the power to do.
“So, whether what we have seen is a departure from technicality to an era of substantial justice in an election petition, it’s left to be seen in decisions in subsequent cases.
“The only way we can have confidence in the electoral process is when the votes of the people truly count and because the highest court of the law has decided, we are all bound to comply by the decision of the Supreme Court.”
Monday Ubani, a former Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association, said that he expected the court to declare a rerun and not outrightly declare Uzodinma as winner.
He stated, “This is the first time Supreme Court would upturn a gubernatorial election in Nigeria.
“What I had expected was a rerun of the election by both parties but the Supreme Court in its wisdom has awarded victory to Uzodinma and this means there is something they have seen that made them reach the particular decision.
“The court should be bold enough to reverse decision of INEC where they discover irregularity.
“We have had issues where INEC has done it wrong, they have probably considered issues based on politics and based on issue of maybe overriding national interest and not purely on law. I would be happy if the court can reverse decisions of INEC.
“From now onwards, we want the Supreme Court that will be very bold enough to upturn decision where INEC is wrong to declare somebody a winner, including the presidential election.
“Let us now begin to follow the precedent that INEC election can be upturned by court especially the gubernatorial and presidential election.”