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Electoral Defeat: Choosing between the Law and Lawlessness

By: Abdulrasheed Ibrahim

With just very few days to electorally determine who will carry the day between Atiku and Buhari, it has become necessary again to caution our politicians to be ready to accept the outcome of the election whichever way it goes. For now, I am neither a card carrying member of APC nor that of PDP or any political party. I am just an ordinary Nigerian citizen that is very concerned about having a credible election devoid of rancour and hostility. Any politician that is fairly defeated in the election must take that in good faith and move on as that will not be the end of the world. I am personally not comfortable with the words of threat coming out from some politicians particularly the one recently attributed to the National Chairman of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Secondus threatening fire and brimstone if the election did not go his own way. The question we need to ask here is that: must heaven fall if any political party loses an election?

I think the advice we need to give to any political party that loses in the coming elections is to go the Election Petition Tribunal set up by the law to look into such grievance rather than embarking on act of lawlessness that will not blow any good wind. We do not want the repeat of bloodshed that happened in the past as a result of the refusal to accept the outcome of the election verdict. The Nigerian history is full of many unfortunate incidents that I will not like to chronicle here. The message here is that those who may be aggrieved by the outcome of the election verdict should embrace the law rather than the lawlessness.

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Voting during elections should be seen as a carnival and not as war. Everyone must be allowed to exercise his or her franchise by voting for the candidate of his or her choice without any inducement including as being asked to sell his or her vote. As I have said previously on this platform in the article titled , 2019 ELECTION TRIBUNALS: ADVISING THE LAWYERS AND JUDGES that:

“…Politicians are always desperate to occupy political offices as if their lives depend on that. Many politicians are already to do everything to achieve that even if to put their parents in an open market for public auction.”

Those electorates that believe in being settled by politicians financially or materially in one way or the other before exercising their civic responsibility must have a serious rethink because if after trading away their franchise and the buyers eventually make their way into government and refuse to live up to expectation ,will those sellers be justified in criticizing that government. Can they eat their cake and still have it? Those compromising their voting rights are not only mortgaging their own future but also that of their children. There is the need to continue enlightening the people particularly those who are not literate on the negative implication of these vices. The problem of most elites in our society who know better is that they do not believe in casting votes during elections. Our elites are only good at condemning those in government but many of them have failed to realise that their refusal to be involved aid to install politicians who are not competent on the seat of government. It is this attitude of the elites that the great Plato had in mind when he said:

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”

Socrates, a great Greek philosopher who lived between c469-399 BC was a mentor of Plato and according to Socrates whom our own great jurist, Hon. Justice Chukwudi Oputa was likened to also said :

“The wise who refuses to rule should be ready to suffer the rule of the idiots”

George Orwell who lived in recent time and authored the popular novel titled ANIMAL FARM that depicted the Russia Revolution once also observed that :

“People who elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victim…but accomplices.

I want to believe that people like Dr. Nnamid Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello amongst others must have been inspired by the likes of Socrates and Plato to be actively involved in the Nigerian politics. These were Nigerian politicians that worthy being emulated when it comes to selfless service to their people when at the helm of affairs at their respective regions. Unless our elites change their attitudes to politics, they will surely continue to be ruled by their inferiors and the idiots.

This brings us to the formation and number of the political parties in Nigeria. While one does not have anything against the desire of the Nigerian citizens to form and belong to any political parties of their choice as fought for by the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) in the case of INEC Vs. Musa (2003) 3 NWLR (Pt.806) 72 .The reality on the ground today is that the number of the political parties in Nigeria has gone out of proportion. Unlike during the First and Second Republics when you could count the number of the political parties on the tip of your fingers same cannot be done today as it is only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that can in certainty give you the actual number of the political parties registered in Nigeria. How the ballot paper will look like is what to be seen on the Election Day.

The question I still continue to ask those who live in United States of America (USA) from where we borrowed this presidential system and yet to get a satisfactory answer is that: how many political parties are registered there? All I have known and heard about American’s White House occupant is that it is either occupied by the Republican or the Democrat. In United Kingdom (UK), which colonized our country, it seems to be either the Labour or the Conservative. But what do will have here in our country?

General Ibrahim Badamosi Babandiga, the military president during his regime eventually created two political parties i.e National Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) similar to that of United States of America (USA) that finally produced Bashir Tofa for NRC and M.K.O. Abiola for SPD through “Option A4” . But unfortunately it was the same initiator of that brilliant electoral innovation that on 12th June 1993 annulled the presidential election widely accepted as the most free and fair election in the history of Nigeria. Today ,we have the multi-political parties system in abundant and in the presidential election scheduled for 16th February 2019 about 31 persons are said will be contesting in the presidential race. What do we need such number of presidential candidates for when the race is expected to produce just one winner?

The beauty of democracy is that it allows every one interested in a political office to come out to test his popularity and acceptance. Whether our politicians may have a rethink on the proliferation of political parties may be an issue for another day but the message here is for the politicians to exercise caution in the utterances .Any politician that suffers an electoral defeat in a free and fair election should accept same it good faith but if he is aggrieved by the outcome of the election result, let him abide by the law by taking appropriate steps lay down by the law rather than going lawless by calling people to resort to violent.

NOW A NOTARY PUBLIC

On 4th February 2019, I was sworn-in as a Notary Public by the Chief Judge of Lagos, Hon. Justice O.O. Oke and with this to God be the glory. By this I have now joined the rank of the Legal Practitioners who are Notaries Public who are empowered by the Notary Public Act contained in the Laws of the Federation to sign some documents that may be required be used in any part of the world particularly the Commonwealth of Nations. A Notary Public can also perform the function of the Commissioner of Oath whenever it becomes necessary. For the benefit of those who do not know how the rank is conferred, any legal practitioner that is desirous of becoming one must have put in some years into the practice of law during which period he must have been paying his annual Bar Practicing Fees regularly and as at when due for not less than seven or nine consecutive years. He must have registered his law firm with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The application accompanying with necessary credentials must be made to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to be approved by the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJF) who will then direct the Chief Judge of the State of your law practice for the Judges in the state to make recommendations as to your being fit and proper to be conferred with the rank. The recommendations will be sent back to the CJF by the CJ. If the CJF is finally satisfied with the recommendations, a letter will be sent back to CJ that you have been successful and arrangement should be made for your swearing-in as a Notary Public as you are equally copied with the said letter.

RIGHT TO REPLY (RTR)

On this platform last week, I wrote to ask: IS BOYCOTT NBA’S BEST OPTION TO PRESS ITS DEMAND? In second part of the same write up, I also wrote on the caption titled: OBASANJO AS A LETTER WRITER. The positive receptions and reactions to this write up altogether were very overwhelming but as usual it was not without dissenting views from about two persons one of whom is a professional colleague. Immediately I sent the post, the said learned colleague whom I doubted read the entire write up reacted to my post as follows:

“Pity lawyers can write long confusing posts intended only to take away attention from the illegal purported replacement of the CJN .Every illegality by Buhari would find some support among some unscrupulous elements acting like the ABN and YEAA. How did lawyers descend this low?”

Please what can you say about this reaction? In response to this I said:

“Sir I want to take exception from your personal view. If you have issues with what I have written the best way to rebut it is to write your full rejoinder. I refer you to the second to the last paragraph of my write up. Lawyer should not behave like market women. Express your view and allow other people to be the judges. What is confusing in what I have written? You don’t because of the hatred you have for some people want others should ply the way of your hatred.”

After further exchanged of few words we eventually parted in what looked like a friendly way. Another lady from Enugu whom I believe was particularly interested on the second part of the write up said:

“This my brother Abdulrasheed Ibrahim, another letter writer .Are you trying to advertise your LAW PRACTICE KIT or are you subtly campaigning for a candidature of who? All in all, from this your letter, only GYG is a good statesman and good leader though his involvement in the coup that despatched GMM. In fact all have sinned somehow .I would rather say that this your letter is more in parable. What exactly are you doing? I am bit amused.”

In response to the lady I said :

“Thanks Ma, it is whichever way you view it. I have been doing this writing weekly for over a year now consistently without a break on this platform. On whether advertising a book or not. I can say without fear of being contradicted that I am a benevolent author .Can you point to me any author in recent time that give people weekly excepts from his books for people particularly lawyers to benefit or learn from freely without paying for them. On GYG, I am not saying the man is a saint himself but for OBJ , he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. That was just my message .Do have a wonderful day, my great sister!”

The reason for all these citations is to simply get the message across. I have on several occasions advised people particularly on this platform to desist from spreading hate speech. If some people are being paid to spread hatred and falsehood to distort the very obvious on the social media, I do not belong to the class of those people as I am not on the pay roll of any body. When we disagree on issues let us be diplomatic in our engagement rather than being aggressive and hostile. One thing that I so much believe in is that if the present generation of lawyers does not appreciate our selfless efforts, the future generation of lawyers will surely do. According to a Yoruba music legend, Chief Ebenezer Obey Commander:

“Do your best and leave the rest”

REMARKABLE PRONOUNCEMENT

ON OPERATION OF STATUTE

“A retrospective statute operates for the future. It is prospective in character but imposes new results in respect of a past event or transaction. Where an Act attaches an obligation or disability or imposes a duty as a new consequence, prejudicial in most cases, of a prior event, then it can be said to be retrospective.”

Per OGWUEGBU, JSC in Adesanoye Vs. Adewole (2000) 11 WRN Pg. 18 Line 4

THE SETTLED PRINCIPLE OF LAW

On when obiter assume the status of ratio decidendi

“It is however good law that obiter of the Supreme Court, could with time, and repeated on number of times, assume the status of a ratio decidendi.”

See Maclean Vs. Inlaks Ltd (1980) 8-11 SC; Agbai Vs. Okogbue (1991) 7 NWLR (Pt. 204) 391; Bamgboye Vs. University of Ilorin (1991) 8 NWLR (Pt. 207)1; NWANA Vs. F.C.D.A. (2004) 13 NWLR (Pt. 889) Pg. 141 Para D

For more Settled Principles of Law and Remarkable Pronouncements from our Supreme Court Jurists from 1956-2016, obtain or order for your copies of LAW PRACTICE KIT and LEGAL LUMINARIES. Call or text 08055476823, 08164683735 or email: rasheedibraheem68@yahoo.com. Your library is incomplete without these books.

10th February 2019

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