‘Go to court’ is the new phrase in Nigeria’s electoral history. The phrase is commonly used these days by declared ‘winners’ of an election to cover up their well-orchestrated criminal act during the elections. The phrase is directed at their opponents who supposedly ‘lost’ in the highly contested and controversial elections. The use of this phrase has been notoriously popularised by many of the loquacious spokespersons of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Regrettably, some of these loquacious persons are serving ministers, former ministers and people who had occupied high positions in government in the past.
It is commonly alleged that those who say go to court have the judiciary already in their pockets which means that their opponents would never get justice. The manner in which this phrase has been confidently and arrogantly used since after the February and March elections gives credence to this allegation. Be that as it may, the ungodly acts of Nigerian politicians are increasingly rising to high heavens. And more importantly, this is an indication that there is a vanishing culture of virtuous life in Nigeria’s political space. Again, this goes to demonstrate without doubt that politics is a dirty game predominantly played by ungodly people in Nigeria. This further explains why the group of politicians using the catchphrase go to court, do not want to see any decent person in Nigeria’s political space. They have to fight dirty to dominate the political space.
This new phrase has elevated the political culture of impunity and fragrant abuse of the law to a new and dangerous level. And this dangerous level of electoral criminality by desperate politicians is presently struggling to dominate the political space. It is an emerging frightening phenomenon because it has the potential to generate pervasive anarchy at both the macro and micro levels of human interaction in the Nigerian society. For instance, one is getting worried that one day, a person can cut off another person’s head and then ask the relations of the dead person to go to court. And one may wonder if going to court would bring the dead man to life. What type of useless justice is one asked to seek? Is Nigeria sliding back to the Hobbesian state of nature where life was ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’? Some would say that Nigeria is already in the ‘Hobbesian state of war’ with the rampant killings by terrorists, bandits, herdsmen and unknown gunmen in every part of the country. Regrettably this anarchical Hobbesian situation were purely caused by the actions and inactions of politicians. Already in Nigeria, the victims of the ungodly acts of politicians are crying to high heavens.
It is gladdening however to note that this growing (political) culture of a reign of impunity in electoral management, has just suffered a setback in Adamawa State. In actual fact, the Adamawa State supplementary election fiasco was the latest attempt by this gang of desperate politicians and their electoral management collaborators to impose candidates in an arrogant manner against the will of the people. The Adamawa case is one of the overt manifestations of the ever-increasing acts by ungodly Nigerian politicians. The most open, reckless and brazen abuse of power in the history of Nigeria’s electoral management by Mr. Hudu Yunusa-Ari (the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Adamawa state), is a criminal act of the highest order which should be treated as a treasonable offence akin to a military take-over of government. When Hudu Ari openly and brazenly flouted the law by declaring the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Party (APC) the winner of a yet-to-be completed electoral process (under the protection of the Commissioner of Police of the state and some other security officials), the well-orchestrated plan, was to ask the loser to go to court. Fortunately, the prompt intervention of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) national headquarters, put a stop to the well-orchestrated criminality. Hudu Ari’s act was a well-planned mockery of our electoral process and a subversion of our democracy.
What many people are asking is that if INEC national headquarters was able to promptly identify the illegality that was going on in Adamawa, why was the same INEC unable to do so during the presidential election that took place on 25 February, 2023? More and more evidence have continued to demonstrate that INEC Chairman knew what he did during the presidential election when he hurriedly announced a winner when there were glaring cases of irregularity. When agents of opposition parties protested at the national collation centre about the large scale irregularities (which in any case many Nigerians observed also), people who respect the rule of law expected the INEC Chairman to stop the process. In spite this, he continued with the collation exercise and even went ahead to hurriedly announce the flawed election results during that night. This gave enough room for people to reasonably conclude that there was an orchestrated plan to rig the presidential election to promote a particular agenda, and to be selectively objective and firm in other elections. This explains why INEC receives both praise and condemnation by politicians across the political party, ethnic and religious divide. But all things considered, adherents of the rule of law think strongly that there is no difference between what the INEC Chairman did in the presidential election collation process and what the Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner did when the collation was going on during the supplementary election? INEC’s selective objectivity gives the impression that it has been fair to all. This is far from the truth.
Coming to the APC governorship candidate who sentimentally got a lot of supporters across the country because she is a woman, we feel strongly that she has disappointed many, and has also lost many supporters with good conscience. If what played out in this election is anything to go by, many would think that womanhood has been disgraced and debased. Womanhood deserved (and still deserves) more honour, dignity and respect than what she exhibited. Many would agree that her conduct was very shameful. If we also recall that it was reported that it was her company that INEC awarded the contract to produce the sensitive materials that were used in the elections, then there is more to her shameful political behaviour. When we recall that many supporters of opposition political parties complained of having difficulty identifying their logo during voting, then it becomes clear that INEC and the ruling party knew what they did in that presidential election. A woman of this character should not be entrusted with anything of public interest and should be ‘retired’ by the Adamawa voters from politics for life. Advocates for women representation in politics should be interested in the character of those they are supporting for elective positions. Impeccable integrity is a key factor to guide such support. Decent people do not want to know or hear that a woman has ‘made money’ and therefore should be supported.
Did Hudu Yunusa-Ari act alone in his brazen display of criminality? There must be a group of political criminals who planned this ‘failed coup’ in Adamawa State. For a commissioner of police and some others to give him cover, there must be higher criminal collaborators and authorities such as the major beneficiary, her associates and the ‘Abuja factor’ that boosted the psychological confidence. It would therefore be wrong and unfair to punish Hudu Ari and other state-based security officials alone and leave other higher criminal enablers. The state-level officials were only foot soldiers in this case. The election fiasco was a high level and well-orchestrated organized political crime, and all those involved should be identified and prosecuted.
By the way, why would there be unnecessary bureaucracy in what requires prompt action in punishing the political criminals in the Adamawa election fiasco? When thieves and armed robbers are caught in their operations, they are promptly arrested. So why would the police wait for INEC to write it before arresting the State Resident Electoral Commissioner? Again, when people are involved in a coup, they are promptly arrested. And so what is the difference between the Adamawa electoral coup and military coup? Those who shout treason have refused to see this one.
•Prof. Isaac N. Obasi can be reached via [email protected].