THE JUDICIARY ON TRIAL! —-Segun Sowunmi Writes

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The Judiciary is on trial and the implications will have far reaching consequences  into the future of how democracy and elections will evolve in our beloved Nigeria. If and when citizens lose faith in the ability of the judiciary, especially the courts of the land, to transparently adjudicate in matters of significant national interest, then we can better imagine what will follow. This is most pronounced in the case of presidential election tribunals for the stakes are very high and the stakes ought to be high. The issues go deep into how a people’s life will progress or otherwise. 

As the presidential tribunal commences,I find my mind wondering: can justice be done with the way things look? Why do I say this? Well, the interest of the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, is completely compromised in this case and she ought to recluse herself, for how do you expect that the learned justice would, in good conscience, expect to be trusted, given that her husband is a newly elected senator of the APC. As if that is not enough, her brother is a governor elect on the platform of APC for Gombe; her other brother is permanent secretary in the Buhari villa, and not leaving out her son, who is also a newly elected lawmaker of the APC.

How honourable can Justice Bulkachuwa be? It beats me hollow how she could not have excused herself; it is bad enough that she has to compose and appoint people into the panel that she chose to serve on; same calls to question the integrity of the entire members. Take the case of Justice Aboki, who in all seriousness, leaves many a PDP faithfuls wondering why he always seems to be an albatross with known hatred for anything PDP. A reasonable inference can be drawn on all the others who seem to have been cleverly selected to do the hatchet job of President Buhari and the APC.

 Confidential whistle blowers say that huge amounts of money have changed hands. Promise of elevation to the Supreme Court has been dangled before some, while intimidation and harassment of a potential Onnoghen treatment is said to await anyone of them who does not play ball. And as if to perfect the devilish script, the media is being threatened with consequences if they do their jobs. Their justices had better be put on notice that the interests of Nigerians and the entire world are in this case and we will not be gagged. No amount of threats will work. As media practitioners, we have a right to do our duty with professionalism, but with the greatest respect; like law, like journalism. We will report, discuss, analyze  and do all within our power and professional ethics, to do our duty to the citizens of Nigeria and the world, who expect nothing less from us. So help us God.

 Reference Metropolitan Properties Company (FGC) Limited v Lannon; 11 Jul 1968References: [1968] RVR 490, [1968] EWCA Civ 5, [1968] 3 All ER 304, [1968] 3 WLR 694, (1968) 19 P & CR 856, [1969] 1 QB 577 Coram: Lord Denning MR, Danckwerts LJ, Edmund Davies LJ.Tenants of apartments asked the Rent Officer to fix the fair rents. On appeal, the rents were then set at a rate even lower than they had requested. The rents would serve as a guide for other local rents. The landlords now complained that the chairman of the Rent Assessment Committee had been assisting his own father in negotiating a rent for such a local property, and had represented other tenants. They complained of bias. Held: He should not have sat. It was accepted that he had had no pecuniary interest himself, and had acted scrupulously.

It was a question of whether there was any appearance of bias. Lord Denning MR considered the test for apparent bias, and said: ‘The court looks at the impression which would be given to other people. Even if he was as impartial as could be, nevertheless, if right-minded persons would think that, in the circumstances, there was a real likelihood of bias on his part, then he should not sit. And if he does sit, his decision cannot stand.’ Finally, nations must continually seek to improve and do right for the sake of posterity.

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