It is dispiriting when judiciary, the last hope of the common man, is increasingly becoming the archetypal masterpiece of dashing people’s hopes. What, however, buoys up our hopes is the ever-presence of a pecking order in Nigeria’s judicial system where malfeasances and excesses of judicial actors are hierarchically checked and balanced.
It is against this background that the Senator representing Niger South in the National Assembly, Mustapha Sani Mohammed, petitioned the National Judicial Council, NJC, to demand an investigation in to the seeming judicial conspiracy, delay and an incredible transfer of a case he filed at the Federal High Court five months ago challenging his arbitrary replacement as the All Progressives Congress, APC’s flag-bearer in the Niger South Senatorial District, even after winning the party’s primary election in the district.
Senator Mohammed, in the suit instituted on October 30, 2018, demanded an explanation as to why his name was replaced with that of Bima Mohammed Enagi, who was not even screened to contest the primaries.
It is known fact that some forces in the state government, a powerful traditional ruler and a certain influencer in the Presidency are interested in the case in order to dwarf the towering political profile of the senator.
The sheer injustice leading to the Senator’s travails manifested itself at the conclusion of the APC primary elections in the state where the Senator emerged winner of the Niger South senatorial district and was issued a result of the primaries signed by the chairman, secretary and the returning officer that conducted the elections. But some usurpers, in a political heist, robbed him of the ticket.
The second albatross started when the case, which was instituted way back in October 2018, began to undergo strange transfers from one judge to another without recourse to the exceptional circumstances supplied by the limitations law of the 1999 Constitution under section 285(10) which has made the suit time-bound, expiring, at least, six months after the institution.
The last hearing on the case was done in Abuja on March 13 before being adjourned to March 29 for the judgement. On the D-day, the case was again mysteriously transferred to the Minna Division of the Federal High Court. As could be gleaned from the enrolled order of the court, the summary of the reason for the transfer is that “The 1st and 2nd Defendants pleaded specially for the matter to be heard and determined in the Federal High Court, Minna Judicial Division, Niger State.”
The daunting question, therefore, is what does the judge from the Abuja Division, where the matter spent five months out of its six months lifespan, expect his Learned Brother in Minna Division to achieve in the matter within the remaining few days lifespan of the cases? This is quite a worrisome situation that really requires not only an expeditious intervention of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in order to avert the impending miscarriage of justice but also to undertake a discreet investigation of what has been behind the asphyxiating attitude of the judges handling the matter.
Now that the matter has been fixed for hearing on Thursday, April 4 at the Minna Division of the Federal High Court, all eyes are on Justice Aminu Baffa Aliyu to beat the remaining 22-day lifespan of the case. Justice is a double-edged sword, which has both favourable and unfavourable consequences. Whichever way the case goes will be a relief for the petitioner.
Ordinarily, Senator Mohammed would not have known roads to the court of law, except for the antics played on him by the leadership of the APC.
When APC was trying to check the gale of defection, Senator Mohammed joined Adams Oshiomhole to crisscross the country, sugar-coating the party members who hold strategic political offices to remain in the party. He even went to the extent of promising them an automatic return ticket. Expectedly, Senator Mohammed, as a loyal politician, heeded to the party’s call and stayed put.
However, when the defection hurricane subsided, the party put its shredded-self together and began to diss those who were there for her in its trying times. They have continued to show sheer in indifference to the plights of its members. All the political office holders had to resort to the rigmarole of party primaries, some scaled through, while others got enmeshed in the process. It was the same trap that caught up with Senator Shehu Sani. He was also promised an automatic ticket but was robbed of the ticket in a broad daylight.
If the powers-that-be could not give the senator the automatic ticket as promised, why would they deny him the primary electoral process even after emerging victorious? If the party was compromised to substitute a name after primaries, why will INEC, which supervised the primaries, accept the replacement?
Ibrahim Ramalan wrote from Abuja and can be reached via [email protected]