26th November, 2023
By Maduabuchi Nmeribeh/Kano
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and Rev. Matthew Kukah, have joined prominent individuals and associations, in condemning the controversy trailing the Appeal Court judgement on the Kano March 18 governorship election, among other controversial verdicts.
Northern Elders, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, regretted that “Judges are now a threat to democracy.”
The Northern Elders further warned the judiciary and politicians that: “We are closely monitoring your conduct. Consider the consequences.”
NEF called on the country’s judiciary to, “consider the consequences of its actions and decisions; and uphold the Rule of Law in all its activities around the elections where Nigerians voted.”
Prof Ango Abdullahi said the forum and other stakeholders are, “closely monitoring the conduct of the judiciary and advocate for its ethical revitalisation to safeguard the interests of all Nigerians.
“There have been outcries in the country over the recent judgements given by the Court of Appeal in cases involving states ruled by opposition political parties which are Kano, Plateau, and Zamfara.
“The potential consequences of these actions may ultimately validate the concerns raised by retired Supreme Court Justice, Dattijo Mohammed in his valedictory remarks about corruption and undue compromises within the judiciary.
“We recognise the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary in upholding the Rule of Law and safeguarding democratic principles.
“The judiciary plays a critical role in ensuring justice, protecting citizens’ rights, and preserving the credibility of the electoral process. Any actions that compromise these principles undermine the very foundation of any democratic nation.
“NEF, therefore, calls on all levels of the judiciary to uphold the highest ethical standards and maintain impartiality in their decision-making processes.
“Judges should exhibit unwavering integrity and resilience when adjudicating cases, especially those pertaining to elections.
“The judiciary plays a crucial role in sustaining constitutional democracy by ensuring the rule of law, protecting individual rights, and providing checks and balances on the other branches of government. However, if the judiciary fails to fulfill its responsibilities, it can have severe implications for the stability and functioning of a democratic society.
“The current trend may encourage politicians to view politics as a do-or-die affair. When the judiciary fails to effectively adjudicate disputes and hold politicians accountable for their actions, it creates an environment where politicians feel emboldened to engage in corrupt practices, abuse their power, and disregard the principles of democracy.
“This erosion of trust in the judiciary can lead to a breakdown of democratic norms and values, ultimately undermining the legitimacy of the political system.
“Furthermore, a collapsing judiciary jeopardises the safeguarding of constitutionalism, which is the cornerstone of any democratic society. The judiciary acts as the guardian of the constitution, ensuring that laws and policies adhere to the principles enshrined within it.
“Without a functioning judiciary, there is a risk of constitutional violations going unchecked, leading to the erosion of citizens’ rights and freedoms. This can result in a loss of public confidence in the democratic process, as citizens may feel that their voices are not being heard or that their rights are being trampled upon.
“The fairness and transparency of the judicial system are vital for fostering public trust, confidence, and belief in the democratic process.
“NEF believes that the judiciary should be an unbiased and independent arm of government, which is essential to the success of democracy and it should not be seen as compromising the integrity of its decisions particularly at a time when the nation is grappling with a range of challenges.
“NEF, therefore, calls on the judiciary to consider the consequences of its actions and decisions and strive to uphold the rule of law in all its activities to justify the confidence reposed on it by Nigerians.
“The NEF called on the public to remain vigilant in as to the direction the nation’s judiciary is headed and not to hesitate to expose any perceived misconduct on the part of the judiciary.
“It is our firm belief that a strong and incorruptible judiciary is crucial for the development and progress of our great nation. NEF, alongside other concerned stakeholders, will continue to closely monitor the conduct of the judiciary and advocate for its ethical revitalisation to safeguard the interests of all Nigerians.”
Moreso, a prominent Nigerian clergy, Bishop Mathew Kukah, has regretted that: “It is sad the judiciary, priests are getting dragged into politics.”
He lamented the actions of politicians in dragging members of the judiciary and Catholic priests into politics.
The convener of the National Peace Committee, who failed to elaborate further on the nature of political involvement, said this on Friday at the 8th House of Justice Summit held in Kaduna State.
According to the Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, “politics has its own rhyme and rhythm, especially in contrast to someone who has a certain moral responsibility.
“I am saddened by the fact that the judiciary has now found itself being sucked into politics.
“I would have also been sad — and I’m also sad — to the extent that even us who are priests in the church, we are getting sucked into politics because you will never come out the same.
“You go to wrestle with a pig inside poto poto (mud). You may defeat the pig, but you cannot go around showing yourself to see what you look like.
“Elections will always give us what I call unintended consequences. But also, it is important to understand that a contest is always a contest. And you use the experience of this to prepare for the next contest.”
Kukah who urged Nigerians not to be despondent, said the best is still to come, “Nigerians should be focused on the present rather than worry about the next generation.
“You are using mobile phones today. It wasn’t the generation that went before us that gave us mobile phones. Every generation will contest its own problems. Let’s be concerned with the problems of the moment.
“Yes, we dream about the future. But like somebody said, today is the tomorrow you dreamt about yesterday. But let’s not be nervous. We should be nervous that we are underperforming because there are things we could have done differently.
“But there is a new consciousness that is emerging, and it is that consciousness that we must build on. So, justices will do what justices will do.”