WHEN the eminent French jurist, Charles de Montesquieu in his book, Esprit de Lois (The Spirit of Laws) expounded the concept of separation of powers, his worries were mainly about the excesses of the Executive – the Leviathan needed to be reined in by both the Legislature and Judiciary.
Little wonder many educated sons of Akwa Ibom wept when a statement was credited to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, where he reportedly christened the assembly under his watch, ” The Rubber Stamp of The Executive”.
The Judiciary though often succumbing to manipulations, has fought a good fight both to survive as an estate of the realm and to remain the last hope of the common man which it is constitutionally and morally mandated to be.
Activist legal luminaries know the harm that a compromised and corrupt Judiciary can inflict on the society, and they always fight to keep those vices at arm’s length.
It was therefore shocking to us when after the Judgment of an issue bothering on some undemocratic practices where the seats of 5 legislatures of the Akwa Ibom State House of assembly were declared vacant by their speaker, because, they defected from the PDP to the APC even where the issue was before the judiciary, a counsel to the PDP queried in court why the aggrieved legislatures should have approached the court in the first instance.
The Judge in the unrecorded session, rebuked such statements and described the lawmakers’ decision to approach the court as “a step in the right direction”. How else should a democratic citizen call for justice if not through the judiciary in this modern age? Why have we decided to be very undemocratic in democracy?
In another development, one would have expected the aggrieved political party after the ruling, to call her supporters together and report the true judgment as passed by the Judge of the Federal High Court in Uyo and perhaps, announce their intensions to appeal the Judgment. What did we get? A situation where one of the counsels took to his facebook page and reported just the judgment without announcing that the Judge said “this judgment does not overrule the rulings of the 6th of May, 2019”.
What was the ruling of the 6th of May, 2019? In clear English terms, the rulings stated that the speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly took laws into his hands by declaring the lawmakers’ seat vacant even where the matter was in court. Thus, that the lawmakers remain lawmakers until decided by a court of competent jurisdiction and that all their salaries and entitlements should be paid to the letter.
The judgment declaring the seat of the lawmakers vacant by a court of competent jurisdiction came on the 13th day of May, 2019 and the judgment read thus “this judgment takes effect from today and the rulings of the 6th of May is still valid” , yet opinion leaders are already throwing parties to the unsuspecting public and brain washing them on a half-baked judgment only conceived in their imaginations.
The task of doing political justice to whom it is due while entertaining election petitions is huge. In spite of these, we call on the Judiciary to stand up for Nigeria at this moment of great need for political justice.
It is only when Nigerians see stolen mandates, no matter by who, systematically restored to their rightful owners by the Judiciary that their faith in the power of their votes will be restored and our democracy uplifted.
By: Prince Ntuk