S’Court Verdict: Awomolo Faults Sagay on Rivers, Zamfara APC Elections

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Chief Adegboyega Awomolo

Alex Enumah in Abuja

Eminent lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, has faulted the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, over his criticism of the Supreme Court’s judgment involving the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara and Rivers states.

Awomolo in a rejoinder dated June 6, 2019, did not only fault Sagay’s call for a review of the apex court’s decision on the two states but claimed Sagay was merely doing the bidding of the ruling party, the APC.

The Supreme Court had in two landmark judgments disqualified candidates of the APC in both Rivers and Zamfara states from participating in the 2019 general election on the grounds of violation of section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended, which related to the conduct of party primary for elective positions in the country.

While the apex court had in the case of Rivers State, held that the APC cannot field candidates for elective positions in the 2019 general election, in the case of Zamfara, the court however nullified the participation of the APC in the said elections even though the APC’s candidates won in all the elections and declared the runners-up as authentic winners.

Reacting to the development, Sagay who described the judgment as “shocking the conscience of humanity,” submitted that, “the Zamfara and Rivers states’ judgments are a national tragedy which should not be allowed to throw up the unimaginable injustice.”

However, Awomolo in his rejoinder, noted that contrary to the position of Sagay, the apex court being the last hope of the citizen, was able to dispense justice in the judgment for the people of Rivers and Zamfara states and indeed the entire nation.

“Indeed the public statement of Professor Itse Sagay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, a creation of the Executive arm of government, published in the Nation newspaper of Tuesday, June 4, 2019 is seen in many quarters as a clear reflection of the inner caucus of the Executive arm of Government.

“Nigerians are fully aware that since the learned Professor became the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, he has constantly found nothing good in the judiciary and the Supreme Court in particular where he believes there is corruption even though none has been prosecuted or convicted by a court of law for corruption,” Awomolo said.

While arguing that the judiciary is not the makers of the law, he stressed that the court is not creative as to make its decision suit the convenience of the parties in litigation.

“With respect, one fails to see the relevance of the argument of technicality, rather we see substantial justice having its roots on the clear facts of this case.

“The mandatory provision of section 87 of the Electoral Act and the trite law that only the National Chairman and Secretary of a political party that can submit nomination of the party candidates not state chairmen or such subordinate office, stuck to by the Supreme Court promote substantial justice.

“Justice in my view, means justice to all political parties, Justice to the people of Nigeria whose taxes were spent on law makers who enacted the Act, which must be obeyed by all without exception, the INEC who enforce and carry out the laws.

“Justice to all the people of Zamfara and Rivers states whose political rights were capriciously violated by the politic gladiators who frittered away their votes by disobedience to the Constitution and the law.

“Justice of course to the judges and justices of our courts who are the greatest living assets of our race without whom our democracy would have been truncated by the politicians since 1999 when Nigeria returned to constitutional democracy.

“On the whole the lamentation of the learned senior counsel on principle of democracy, justice and political rights with respect, have no root in the facts of this case. The opinion expressed on the judgments is mere academic exercise, theories on justice, without relevance to the well thought out decision based on constitution, status, basic principles of the rules of law in an egalitarian society”, the senior advocate submitted.

While Awomolo said that the judgment of the Supreme Court, is no doubt a corrective policy decision, he added that the judgments of the Supreme Court address policies, institutional and not individuals.

He maintained that corrective and retributive justice is an aspect of justice and the Supreme Court has never failed in this respect.

He added, “the Judiciary did not replace the electorates’ decision and install losers on Zamfara citizens because the APC primary conducted by

the State Executive Committee of the party, has been pronounced upon in numerous cases as a nullity.

“The law has become established that where voters in the exercise of their franchise chose a candidate whose standing is void in law, such votes are regarded as thrown away. A candidate whose candidature is invalid and void cannot claim to have lawful votes.

“The votes cast for APC candidates were unlawful votes so the candidate with majority of lawful votes is bound to be declared the winner.

“Learned professor perhaps wished the Supreme Court, on the ground of theory of democracy had reversed its rules, depart and walk away from its well established principles, that Section 87 of the Electoral Act must be obeyed. The choice of the Zamfara State electorates which the law regarded as void cannot be a foundation for any benefit,” he submitted.