OSUN PDP: RESPECT THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL

PDP is trying to distort facts and history concerning Osun 2018 election tribunal. In trying to run down the Osun tribunal members and indeed the President of the Court of Appeal, the PDP accused the President of Appeal Court, her husband and her son as certified members of the APC. Therefore, the PDP is saying the President of Court of Appeal cannot dispense justice in the matter. I want to remind Osun PDP that Osun Election Tribunal that upheld the victory of the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the August 9, 2014 Governorship election was disbanded three times between 2014 and 2015. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is merely exhibiting ignorance, deception and lies by questioning the reorganization of the 2018 Osun election tribunal by the President of Court of Appeal. I have challenged the main opposition party to approach the court if it felt that any aspect of the Electoral Act was violated. The PDP has no power whatsoever under the Constitution to question the authority of the Judiciary in this matter, except, of course, it would sue for the removal of Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa as President of the Court of Appeal. The onus of the proof of guilt rests on the PDP.

I want to remind PDP that Rtd Justice Ayo Salami, a former President of the Appeal Court, was dubiously suspended by PDP led federal government in the past following his alleged disclosure to the media of an attempt by the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Aloysius Katsina-Alu, to influence the decision of the Appeal Court, in a Sokoto governorship election matter that was pending before the court at the time. After almost two years of intrigues against his recall, former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami resigned. The respected judge had finally opted to retire from service rather than continue to wait for reinstatement as was recommended by the National Judicial Council, NJC, which had earlier approved his suspension.

I want the people of Osun to remember that this same phenomenon occurred in 2014 when the same PDP went to tribunal, attempting to annul the re-election of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola at the time. By my records, which are public knowledge, the tribunal was dissolved three times in 2014. The people of Osun did not know what was responsible for the dissolution, the APC did not issue stupid statements nor was any irresponsible protests, organised against those dissolutions. This was because APC was neither privy to, nor its responsibility to question the action of the judiciary. APC had faith in the process and it allowed it to run its course – this, at a time the PDP itself was in charge of government in Abuja.

PDP is now ignorant that the Election Tribunals in Nigeria are the direct creation of Section 285 of the nation’s Constitution which provides for the establishment of the National Assembly, Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Tribunal. The Constitution also gives original jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal over certain categories of election petitions. The Electoral Act made pursuant to the Constitution furnishes details pertaining to the establishment, membership, jurisdiction and proceedings of each Election Tribunal.

The President of the Nigerian courts of appeal is the head of the Nigerian courts of appeal and PDP should respect that office. The incumbent president is Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, sworn-in on April 17, 2014 by Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and first female Chief Justice of Nigeria. The President of the Court of Appeal has the constitutional power to constitute and reorganize any election tribunal in Nigeria. Election tribunals are set up by the President of the Federal Court of Appeal in consultation with the Chief Judges of the High Courts of the states, The head of the Court of Appeal is usually referred to as the President of the Court of Appeal. The constitution provides in S.238 (1) that before a person can become the President of the Court, he will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council. This is then subject to final confirmation by the Senate. Courts are recognized and renowned as the hallowed chambers of justice, where even-handed justice is meted out to all and sundry, without sentiment, emotion, favoritism or being unnecessarily embroiled in crass legalism. They are not only courts of law but courts of equity. PDP is entitled to fair hearing before the tribunal and where there is a breach of the rule of fair hearing as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (As Amended), it can approach a higher court.

PDP was allegedly threatening violence if it loses at the tribunal and it should remember that within the justice system, the Court of Appeal has a remarkable position in many respects due to its regulatory function, which is both legal and judicial. Firstly, on the strictly legal side, it is worth noting that many of the Court’s judgments now constitute case law references, thus establishing the Monegasque State of Law. Secondly, on the judicial side, it must be noted that the Court of Appeal, through its supervisory and disciplinary powers, contributes significantly, alongside the Secretary of Justice and the Public Prosecutor, to guaranteeing to those persons subject to be tried that the institution of justice will comply not only with the law, but also with the professional ethics and conduct which are essential to it.

A statement credited to PDP’s Southwest Secretary, Bunmi Jenyo, to cause “mass revolution” if its “perception of justice” was not served by the tribunal, must be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians. The fact that the Appeal Court President is not sitting on the matter destroys PDP’s argument. If she were sitting on the tribunal, the PDP might have a case. But in this instant, the President of the Court of Appeal, by law, is discharging her responsibility to set up the tribunal. Nobody else is empowered to do so under our law.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Sunday alleged that the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hand over its ticket of Bauchi North Senatorial District to the husband of the President of Federal Court of Appeal, Mr Adamu Bulkachuwa was suspicious and a plot to influence the outcome of Ekiti and Osun State election petition tribunals.

The President of the Federal Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa recently reconstituted the 3-member Osun State governorship election petition tribunal now headed by Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Sirajo, being complemented by Justice Peter Chudi Obiora and Justice Adeboye Ayinla Gbolagunte.
But, the PDP in a statement signed by its deputy national publicity secretary, Prince Diran Odeyemi, which was forwarded to the Tribune Online in Osogbo accused the national leadership of the APC of allegedly attempting to use senatorial ticket won by Bulkachuwa “to circumvent the law and influence the election petition tribunals in Ekiti and Osun State” which were constituted by his wife.

The statement reads, the gift of the APC Bauchi North Senatorial ticket to Adamu Bulkachuwa, the husband of Justice Bulkachuwa, after he lost the primary election organised by the party to Usman Abubakar Tuggar is an indication of how desperate the ruling party has become to cover the several infractions it committed in Ekiti and Osun States which are now subject of litigations and pending before several courts in the country.”

I want to educate PDP that the President of the Nigerian courts of appeal is the head of the Nigerian courts of appeal and PDP should respect that office and concentrate on issues concerning Osun election. In Nigeria, Judiciary is the guardian of Our Constitution. Whenever the rights of a people are breached then the Judiciary is the only means where remedy can be sought. We have full faith upon our judiciary and We should be well acquainted with the facts that whenever there is injustice from the other two organs of the Democracy i.e. Legislative and Executive the the Judiciary has provided the proper remedy to the aggrieved individual as well as Society.

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Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City [email protected]

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Author: Kelvin Okereafor