Thursday’s verdict of the Lagos State local government election tribunal, which gave victory to an opposition party candidate against the candidate of the ruling party, is a milestone statement on the integrity of the judiciary. It is a victory for the judiciary at a time the institution, described as the last hope of the masses, has tested very poorly in uprightness before many Nigerians.
The Lagos State Local Government Election Petitions Tribunal nullified the election of the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria candidate in last year’s council poll in Ikoyi Obalende Local Council Development Area, Mr. Adewale Adeniji, and declared the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Mr. Babajide Obanikoro, the properly elected chairman. The five-member electoral tribunal, led by Justice Dolapo Akinsanya (rtd), exhibited rare courage in giving the verdict on the poll held in the LCDA that is home to the ACN national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu.
Information from the political grapevine has it that there were ferocious attempts to corrupt the judgement, an effort that, allegedly, led to division among the tribunal members, and resulted in the long delay in the pronouncement of the verdict. But in the end, the electoral court elected to follow truth rather than politics. This tribunal has demonstrated just what the judiciary should be: an institution that is independent and beholden to no one, and the last hope of ordinary people in the face of the ruling parties’ overwhelming powers.