Law News
Sagay, Ogunye fault S’Court judgments on gov polls

Eminent lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, and a Lagos-based legal practitioner, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, on Thursday, queried the recent judgments of the Supreme Court, which dismissed all the cases challenging the polls of some governors, including those that had earlier been overturned by two lower courts.

A seven-man bench led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, on Wednesday, affirmed the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission with respect to the Abia and Akwa Ibom states’ governorship polls.

In separate telephone interviews with our correspondent, Sagay and Ogunye said the Supreme Court judgments were not justifiable.

The Court of Appeal in the case of the Abia poll and the election petitions tribunal with respect to the Akwa Ibom election had taken a position different from that of the apex court.

Earlier, the apex court had affirmed the governorship election in River State, despite contrary findings by the appeal court.

The apex court had also affirmed the governorship polls in Ebonyi, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Delta and some others.

The Supreme Court is to give full reasons for its decisions on most of the governorship elections later this month.

The apex court’s decision has not been delivered in the appeal with respect to Taraba State election.

Drawing an analogy between the Supreme Court’s decisions and the attitude of an ancient king called Draco in punishing all offences with death, Sagay said on Thursday that the apex court’s streak of judgments was strange.

He said, “It is not something I can just pounce on. But all the judgments have been the same. It’s very interesting. There used to be an ancient monarch, who punished every crime by death. He was called Draco. That is why when somebody does anything extreme he is called Draconian.

“If anybody steals one kobo, you kill him, if he kills someone you kill him, at the end, there is no distinction between offences.

“There should be distinctions. How can all the governorship cases go the same way? How is that possible? That is the question we are all awaiting when they will give the reasons for their judgments.

“I don’t know how to put it, but it’s very strange. We will wait for them to give their reasons and see how that magic occurred that every governorship election was valid and in line with the Electoral Act. It is very unprecedented. We will see when they give their full judgments, that is it for now.”

On his part, Ogunye said he was met with ‘shock and disbelief’ following the apex court’s decisions.

He expressed fear that the Supreme Court’s judgment might ‘unwittingly become an anti-technology, anti-innovation and anti-science precedent’ which he said was “sad for our democracy’.

He said with the trend of the apex court’s judgment it would have been impossible for the likes of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun and former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, to assume governorship positions.

Those mentioned by Ogunye had become governors by an order of the Court of Appeal at the time when the Supreme Court had yet to have jurisdiction over governorship election appeal cases.

He also said, “Nigerians and the international community were living witnesses to the conduct of the polls in the states where these election petitions emanated and the conclusions were that the elections were terribly mismanaged and marred by violence and malpractices.”

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