From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The International College of Democracy and Human Rights (Enugu); comprising over 120 experts including serving and university retired professors, doctorate degree holders, lawyers, criminologists, religious leaders, civil society leaders, human rights and democracy activists have called on the Five-Man Panel, Justices of the Court of Appeal of the 2023 Presidential Election Petitions’ Tribunal (PEPT) to morally and judicially ensure that the verdict of the PEPT is tailored in a decided case as it ought to be devoid of “technicalities and political orbiters or ethno-religious biases and divisions.
The group said that PEPT verdict must be such that is tailored in ‘living and demoatically progressive law’, stressing that the Justices must be reminded that the sacred collective assignment given to them by Nigerians is to factually determine the true winner and losers of the 2023 Presidential Election using the laid down rules and procedures including the collected and tabulated results in the FormEC8As and recognized electronic devices.
The four signatory group-coalitions to the Joint-Statement were represented by John Gregg, an American democracy campaigner, Bernhard Wanner, a Swiss human rights campaigner and Prof Justin Akujieze (Ekwenche-USA); the Eastern Democracy and Human Rights Coalition (Port Harcourt), comprising 40 groups and individuals advocating for democracy and human rights within and beyond Eastern Nigeria-represented by Prof Jerry Chukwuokoro and Amadiebube Mbama (USA); the South-East Based Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights Organizations (Enugu), a coalition of over 20 democracy and human rights groups of South-East extraction-represented by Aloysius Attah (South-East CLO Chair) and Engineer Ikenwoke Nwandu (a Computer Security expert); the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), Nigeria’s leading research and investigative advocacy Organization since 2008-represented by Emeka Umeagbalasi (Criminologist-Researcher) and Ositadinma Agu (UK).
“It is also the assigned sacred duty of the PEPT Justices to determine the number of the ‘dead votes/results’ in the INEC announced presidential results from the country’s over 176,000 polling units and have them detached and invalidated. The awaiting verdict must be rooted in ‘spirit and letters of the law’ and not cloaked in legal loopholes or technicalities’. Matters involving presidential poll judicial enquiries are like matters involving mass deaths requiring judicial probes which must find answers as to: who are those killed? And when, where, how and why they were killed and who killed them?
“The Justices of the PEPT must also be allowed by the Presidency including the country’s spy police chiefs and regular police authorities to freely and morally write and deliver their verdict popularly and independently and refrain from moves strongly suggestive of forcing a scripted verdict on them prepared by the presidential “evil geniuses” to be delivered by PEPT to Nigerians and the world. The INEC-supervised rigging of the 2023 Presidential Poll in Nigeria is as worse as the military coups in the Republics of Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso and those going to the equity must at all times go with clean hands.
According to the Human Rights Organizations, “apart from a corrupt judge being worst than a demented man running amok with a sharp knife in a crowded market, he also hides under the cloak of ‘technicalities and political orbiters’ as his ‘ratio dicidendi’ or facts derived from weak laws or legal loopholes’. It must also be pointed out that majority of Nigerian Judges and ‘pro establishment lawyers’ have earned ‘notorious and crooked expertise’ in ‘legal technicalities (loopholes) and political orbiters’.
“These ‘crooked feats’ so achieved especially since 2015 have left Nigeria with the internationally rated or measured status of second to none in the world; to the extent that in international jurisprudential discourse, the growth of law in Nigeria amounts to under-growth of law in democracy compliant countries with international jurisprudential best practices in that killer-laws such as legal technicalities or loopholes thrive and shape the laws of countries with endemic and pandemic corruption under which Nigeria is unarguably and inescapably classified” the groups stated.