Again, potpouri: Trauma in the land

The Ram

By Abdu Rafiu

Lawyers are hardly on the same page on issues of law. They do not ever agree on points of law, on interpretation of laws, and what constitutes the letters and spirit of a law. Sometimes the law of evidence is given scant attention. Brilliance, eloquence is everything. Brilliance is defined by how much you know about a particular legislation, how much robustly you can marshal your arguments laden with references to authorities and precedents. Delivery also matters and one with the gift of the gab is at an advantage. I enjoy being in their midst, in their company. I have been in their midst in the courts and in their chambers, largely in the course of duty. Sometimes arguments stretch beyond the letters of the law, but hardly touching on the spirit of it. And it is in the spirit of the law that lies wisdom. It is wisdom that beams light on what gave rise to the law, its origin. Wisdom is a precipitation from the rays of the Omniscience of the Almighty Creator, precipitation lent to mankind by the Holy Spirit Who is Justice and Power. Wisdom is not defined by complexity; it strikes in disarming simplicity and as we learn in higher knowledge, in simplicity lies greatness. Complexity befuddles and efforts are deployed to decipher its hidden contents which may just be emptiness.

The judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal the nation awaited breathlessly has come and predictably heated debates have ensued; lawyers, scholars, parties and laymen — we have all gone to work, dissecting and making pronouncements, each according to his own light. It is light beamed by the degree of development of each commentator largely from the intellect. The inner radiance is shut out by pre-conceived ideas most times from opinions gathered from the environment, moulded and delivered with enrapturing erudition. The inner radiance itself manifests the degree of the development of the inner man. Where the inner man, the spirit, is asleep, the field is left only to the intellect with no contribution from the inner being. Where it is half-asleep its contribution passing through the solar plexus to the hindbrain may not be of significant influence because it is being hindered by its paralysis from non-use. The cerebellum is the spiritually receptive part of our brains while the cerebrum puts what is received into action. When it is hindered, it is on its own, cut off from the directive, influence and enrichment of the hind-brain which by itself is mediated by the inner being. Where there is cooperation between the two brains, we all recognise the man and hail him as cerebral. Because of differences in the reception and guidance, we are bound to disagree or agree as the case may be on all subjects, attitudes, and expressions. The hold we exercise on ourselves not an exception; it must similarly vary.

The judicature and court etiquette could not have been for nothing; they evince the majesty and sanctity of justice. It can little be emphasized that we all must shrink from any conduct that may denigrate our courts whether in words or action. I have been reading reactions to the judgment delivered last week by the Justices of the Court of Appeal who constituted the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. Some of the reactions are enlightening while many are intemperate, to a large extent heat without light, and unfortunately exposing our troubling ethnic fault lines. What is more worrisome is the attempt to lower the esteem of the Justices in the eyes of the public. There was intimidation before the Tribunal delivered the judgment and insinuations after the verdict. “By fire, by force, we go win this case,” oblivious of the Laws governing our existence which stipulate that slander can only produce slander, hate only hate, according to enlightenment from higher knowledge. We learn that “but dignity, peace, light and joy can in turn only arise from a dignified way of thinking, never otherwise.”

There are statements from reactions on the judgment such as “Let there be no mistake about it: the 6/9 judgment is antithetical to judicial norms and values.” That of course is fine. But it goes on: “Apart from being a big threat to the independence of the judiciary, the narcissistic 6/9 verdict is a big threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence and national unity. It is a toxic verdict which, if left unturned, will serve as a dangerous judicial precedent that legalizes all manner of election impropriety…” Consider the characterization of the judgment in the following terms: “the iniquitous 6/9 verdict”; “narcissistic 6/9 verdict”; “callous 6/9 verdict”; “6/9 bad precedent”; “ignominious 6/9 verdict”; “unjust 6/9 verdict”; “horrific 6/9 verdict”; “atrocious 6/9 verdict”; “the riveting 6/9 verdict”. These are judgmental assertions of how the judgment went and they are not backed by references to categorical pronouncements of the Justices that the pieces of evidence, where at all supplied, were not proven to establish their verity, to turn them into truths. The claims by the petitioners were not backed with unassailable evidence, according to the Tribunal. Some other words could have been found for the judgment. Thus, the phrases are capable of further increasing tension in the land which could lead to youth violence. They are combustible materials that can set off a conflagration–with just a careless cigarette end. There must be fairness to the Justices, too. Disagreement with or criticism of them even when strongly expressed should not deteriorate into inciting hate and ridicule against them.

As Professor Wole Soyinka was saying in South Africa, the leadership of the Labour Party misled the youths and tried to mobilize them to stage protests in the streets against the election on the “banner of lies and deceit.” The Cable online newspaper quoted him as saying, “They were going to send some of the hardliners, proud young people into the street to demonstrate. I’m also ready to be among such demonstrators but only on the banner of truth, not on lies and deceit. This party wanted the same thing (referring to 2011 post-election violence) to happen on the basis of a lie and we find this vice-presidential candidate on television boasting, insisting, threatening and trying to intimidate the judiciary and the rest.”

It would appear our political gladiators are deliberately seeking to impugn the integrity of the Justices by suggesting that they may have been compromised. The PDP believes that there must have been collusion between respondent Bola Tinubu’s lawyers and the Tribunal. In a lengthy statement issued by Phrank Shaibu, the Special Assistant (Communication) to Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Election Petition Court was called upon to explain to Nigerians and the world why the header of Tinubu Presidential Legal Team was on the Certified True Copies of the judgment. The statement reads in part:

“After causing needless delay in availing the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and his legal team Certified True Copies of its judgment, the Presidential Election Court (PEPC) must explain to Nigerians and the world ambiguities around why copies of the judgment bear the header of the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team. It is not our intention to stir up controversy on the matter, but it is very important that PEPC should tell Nigerians why they chose to affix the header of the Respondents on the CTC copy of their judgment, whereas the copies that went to the petitioners did not have the same.”

Two of the lawyers from Wole Olanipekun’s team said the suspicion of collusion is unfounded. One of them, Ghani Rotimi-Arobo Esq. was on Arise News Television and the other Babatunde Ogala (SAN) issued a statement when and why they put a header on their copies. Rotimi-Arobo, indeed, said contrary to the claim by Atiku, the PDP/Atiku’s lawyers collected their copy of the Certified True Copy before Wole Olanipekun/APC team collected theirs. They were at the PEPC Registrar’s office together and that when they left, they went to make photo copies and put the header to distribute to other members of the team that were about 100. I would have thought it was a matter that could have been sorted out among the lawyers, among their learned colleagues. This is in view of the implications the society losing trust and confidence has for the peace and stability of the Nigerian nation. Political contestation is fierce everywhere and alertness is crucial in the pursuit of power, the larger picture of peace and harmony in the land matters more.

Back to the judgment, my take is that there were four crucial issues for resolution which may be put in different compartments. One of them the conduct of the election, and the question before the Appeal Court Justices: Was the election rigged? There were complaints by the petitioners about the uploading of results real time to the IRev. There was also the issue of the FCT Abuja where according to the petitioners, a Presidential candidate must score 25% of the votes before he can be declared winner of the election. The fourth leg of the petition is qualification.

This column treated the issue of Abuja exhaustively on 21 April, this year. In the piece captioned “The 25% Abuja Cut-Off Mark” The column, stated in part:

“The constitution recognises the Federal Capital Territory as a state quite alright. It is understandable, with the President overseeing it as a state. The intendment could not have been to arm it with the veto power such that if 36 states in the country say yes, but Abuja says no, Abuja would carry the day. It would mean Abuja can overturn the choice of 29 states put together as in the case of Bola Ahmed Tinubu—Abuja with a current population of 3,840,000. In 2022, the metro area population was 3,652,000. The number of registered voters in Delta State is 3,221, 697. That of Oyo State is 3,276, 675. The voter population in the two states beats that of Abuja. Rivers alone has a 5,537,190 voter population. The Federal Capital Territory is trailed by Katsina with 3,516,719 registered voters. Kaduna: 4,335,208. Kano: 5,921,370 and Lagos with the highest voter population of 7,060,195. If scoring 25 percent in Abuja is unassailable conditionality, it would mean whatever choice is made in Abuja must be superior to choice made by any other state or a combination of them, implying that voters everywhere else are second-class citizens. That certainly is absurd, indeed provocatively ridiculous. Is Abuja any more representative of Nigeria than Lagos?’

The position of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal is the same as mine. Was the election rigged? What the Justices are saying is that there was no unassailable evidence to back the claim. In what places was the election rigged, the Tribunal wanted to know. In the absence of concrete proof, the complaint fell flat on its face. I myself would have thought that there would have been an alternative result from compilations by the party agents to compare with what INEC has since they had their own copies signed by representatives at every polling unit. These were results announced publicly at the end of counting. I believe that the use of BVAS and IRev was to enhance transparency which was a brilliant idea and innovative, a demonstration of INEC’s commitment to raising the tone and standard of our electoral process and ensuring, overall, a successful election. But anything mechanical, electrical or electronic, however foolproof it may be or appear to be, can fail without notice at any time. The failure of IRev does not affect the results in the hands of the party agents. On the issue of qualification and forfeiture of $460, 000, in the absence of any other document contradicting the letter the FBI wrote in answer to enquiries by the then Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, when the matter was first raised, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in fairness had a straw to hold unto. In the letter, the FBI stated that they had no criminal and trial record against Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Atiku Abubakar is in pursuit of verification to determine the authenticity of the certificate Tinubu has from Chicago State University. As I see it, it may well be a great help for Tinubu to dispel once and for all insinuations and unwholesomeness that were thrown up in the accustomed storm of politics whirling around him and which may be distracting him. The Appeal Court Justices should be commended for their painstakingness, exhaustiveness and courage in the face of distasteful insinuations in the course of their high tasks. It is good that the Supreme Court is being given the opportunity to make a final pronouncement on the petitions. The issues need to be laid to rest not only for the present but for the future.


Evil is certainly on the rise from events around us and in the world. Man’s inhumanity to man continues unabated with its ravages. Evil doing will go on escalating and soulless until it burns itself out, and its minions exterminate themselves. The pressure of the Light is bringing into awakening all that is dead. Man has always wondered about where evil comes from that it is encompassing and menacing our world with such ruthlessness. But reflect as he has on the question, the answer seems elusive. Some believe that, like good, evil is a Creation work, without which life on earth would be unchallenging, drab and monotonous. They equate both poles of the good-evil continuum with day-night counterpoise. A great many assume that evil came into the world with the fall of Lucifer, a once wondrous beauty to behold, who was actually charged with the supervision of the flowering of man in this world, but who went his way and dragged a good many weaklings into murky swamps. Very few seek the roots of a solution in man and the exercise of his free will, that inalienable attribute of his spiritual nature, an attribute without which he will not be man. Good portends beauty, luminousity and lightness, evil scum, darkness and heaviness.


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The 25% Abuja cut-off mark

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