A Niger Delta interest group, Urhobo New Frontiers (UNF) has raised alarm over alleged sinister plot by some desperate politicians alleging shopping for Justices of the Court of Appeal in Abuja to compromise in order to do their bidding as Delta State governorship electoral petitions moves to the Court of Appeal.
In a statement on Saturday, UNF called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola; the President of Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem; and the National Judicial Council to, as a matter of urgency, “save Nigeria’s democracy from the hands of desperate politicians who are hair bent on compromising the judiciary to have their way”.
The group noted that the call became necessary following a number of judgements from the electoral tribunals across the country, which left many Nigerians wondering if the judiciary has also lost its high held axiom as the ‘last hope of the common man’.
According to the statement, the group’s National Coordinator, Chief James Onosakponaome; and National Secretary, Mr. Ovieighele Ochuko said it is worrisome to hear some of the grounds for which elections were nullified across the country and in Delta State, in particular.
The group alleged that “political money bags have invaded Abuja in their quest to compromise judicial officials, including justices of Court of Appeal who will sit to hear appeals emanating from different tribunal across the country”.
The group said: “The judiciary has remained the beacon of hope for the Nigerian people since the return to civil rule in 1999 and has managed to remain apolitical and the stabilizer of our current democratic journey. However, we are saddened and taken aback with recent pronouncement from electoral tribunals.
“One of such judgements that we considered ‘absurd’ for a lack of a better word to convey our meaning, is the decision of the National Assembly Petition Tribunal nullifying Rt. Rev. (Hon.) Francis Ejiroghene Waive of APC (All Progressives Congress) electoral victory over the non-publication of his academic qualification, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its portal.
“The mere fact that Waive submitted his academic qualification to INEC, as required by the law, suffices, but even when INEC showed evidence to the fact that Waive submitted his qualifications, and further wrote to notify them when he noticed that his qualification was not published, the tribunal, in what many analysts termed, ‘Father Christmas judgement’, awarded victory to the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) candidate, Chief Solomon Ahwinahwi for the commission’s act of omission.
“Without prejudice to the lordship at the Court of Appeal, if candidates in an election compromise INEC officials and ensure that the particular of its opponents are not published and he or she is rewarded by the court, as this case seems to be, the court may be setting dangerous precedents that may consume us all. The court is a place of justice and should not reward people for subverting justice.
“We, therefore, urge Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, President of Court of Appeal, Hon Justice Monica Bolna’an Dongban-Mensem, National Judicial Council to as a matter of urgency step in to stop these dark agents and save Nigeria democracy from the hands of desperate politicians who will go to any length to compromise the judiciary in order to have their way”.