By Stanley Alieke, Esq.
By the judgment delivered yesterday by his Lordship, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High court sitting in Abuja, the court sacked the incumbent governor of Ebonyi state, Mr. David Umahi with his deputy and ordered them to vacate the seats and stop parading themselves as the governor and deputy governor of the state for the fact that they dumped the political party (PDP) under which they were elected for another political party (APC).
While I as a lawyer and a co-minister in the temple of justice lauds the courage of my Lordship, Justice Inyang Ekwo for always taking the lead and setting the precedents in numerous notable landmark political and constitutional cases, this kind of judgment is the one we in the legal profession do refer to as “judicial activism” and it is highly commendable especially in a country like Nigeria where the judiciary is yet to be financially autonomous and totally free from the executives always trying to use money and material things as bait to swing judgements to their directions.
This judgment wether or not upheld on appeal by the court of appeal and by the Supreme Court (which it’s decisions are the “finale” in every matter originating from any court in Nigeria) will in no doubt restore some sense of decency in our political atmosphere and ameliorate the act of political prostitution/harlotry that have been the order of the day in the political arena right from the inception of the latest democracy in Nigeria in 1999.
Politicians jump from one political party to another at will, politicians in Nigeria have reduced the act of politics to what the street parlance refers to as “hookup”. Yes, our politicians are into the act of “political hookups”; they spend the night with Party A today and tomorrow they can decide to take party B home for another one night stand, the next day Party C will be the love of their life to share the bed with, the day after next, they could decide to jump back to party A for another love affair. It is all just a marriage of convenience and they are not ashamed of it. This exposes the ideological deficiencies and the lack of integrity of those that occupy the helms of power of Nigeria
By this judgment, politicians will be forced to seat up and always think it through before they decamp to and fro one political party to another; by this judgment, if upheld after appellate scrutiny, Executives and legislatures will be put on judicial check; you either decamp and lose your political seat or you remain in the political party under which platform you were elected and trash out your internal party grievances (if there’s any) and you don’t just run when the boat appears to be sinking or when your selfish interest are not been met.
Section 221 of the constitution which the honorable justice hinged a better part of his judgment on is succinct that no candidate shall stand elected or even go into the electoral arena without coming under or fielded by a political party and by that reason, when you stand elected, you stand elected because of the political party that fielded you and that vote does not belong to you, rather it belongs to the political party on whose platform you got elected on, so once you decamped or dump the political platform you also dump the votes that got you elected into that political office you are occupying.
….this is not as simple as it appears but that is the narrow interpretation the courts have given that section of the constitution.
If this judgment is to see the light of the day, Governors like Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers state who was elected for his second term in office under the PDP but dumped the party for the APC may logically be inferred to be sacked too and other politicians who dumped the party they got elected on but are still occupying the political seats can only be regarded as impostors and meddlesome interlopers.
This and many more reasons; especially restoring some sense of decency, sanity and putting a check on the act of political prostitution/ party hookups in the political arena of Nigeria is the reason why this judgment of my Lordship should stand.
Politics in Nigeria as I earlier pointed out is just a marriage of convenience and it exposes the selfishness and greedy nature of politicians; a politician whose manifesto and political ideologies claim to be in synchrony with the political platform under which he is canvassing for votes and to be elected on cannot get elected and decide to ditch the political platform, ditching both the political ideologies and manifestos; this proves that the so called politicians have no political ideology at the first stance, it’s all “cut and join” politics.
Although, keeping sentiments aside, with all due respect, this judgment of my Lordship is marred with a lot of constitutional deficiencies which could make it not to stand after appellate scrutiny and may likely be reversed on appeal by the appellate courts but that concerns and constitutional deficiencies will be addressed in a rejoinder to this piece where a thorough and broader look will be taken on the constitution and the electoral act of 2010 which was just amended some days back and some notable landmark cases which have appeared to be the judicial precedents on electoral/constitutional matters of this nature.
Barr. Stanley Alieke is a Lead Counsel at Stanley Alieke & Co. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org.