Don’t Use Criticism To Undermine The Judiciary
The Nigerian Supreme Court’s administration of justice is now being impacted by the quiet supremacy battle between supporters of technical justice and supporters of substantial justice.
The Supreme Court’s recent rulings on pre-election issues involving the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission are some of the recent decisions that have sparked public outcry over the justices’ insistence on upholding technicalities rather than pursuing the substance of cases (INEC).
Although both APC leaders actively engaged in the party’s presidential primary, the top court upheld the nominations of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the recently retired Minister for the Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
However, legal professionals who talked to The Guardian, such Monday Ubani and Dr. Sam Amadi, emphasized that the top court often takes into account concerns derived from decisions of the court below and that the court only decides cases based on evidence before it.
Amadi, who is also the Director of the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought (ASSPT), spoke on the question of whether a case’s technicalities or content should come first: “It depends on what the problem is. In the legal system, technicality is crucial for achieving substantive justice.
“Technology shouldn’t distract us from establishing unambiguous justice. The honorable Lord Denning once stated that it is a horrible image to see justice assailed and technicalities prevailing. Technicality ought to be the court’s maiden, not its master.
According to Amadi, “justice is guaranteeing that the people’s votes count and that the person who assumes political power should only be the one who is officially elected” in election proceedings.
“The law has failed to give justice,” he said. “If the court, by over-reliance on technicalities, contradicts the purpose of the people and imposes someone else because of technicality.”
However, before making what is referred to as a blanket condemnation and comparison, Ubani, a human rights campaigner and chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development law (NBA-SPIDEL), stated Nigerians need to grasp the circumstances of both instances (Akpabio and Lawan).
“In Akpabio’s instance, the retired DIG Ekpodum was the one who went to the Federal High Court Abuja and he sought the court to force INEC to insert his name as the senatorial candidate of the APC in the Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial district,” the speaker said.