‘There Is Now A New Dawn At The Supreme Court’
Saturday, 04 February 2012 00:00 By Samson Ezea

Chuks Muoma (SAN) speaks on the recent sack of five governors by the Supreme Court over tenure elongation and other sundry issues.

WHAT is your view on Supreme Court judgment that sacked five governors for overstaying their tenure?

The judgment was sound in law and should have come much earlier. The courage of the apex court is admirable and that is what is expected of an independent judiciary in a true democracy.

An independent and courageous judiciary is the foundation, cornerstone and pillar of a true democratic society, which instills the rule of law and defends and protects the sanctity of human rights.

There is now a new dawn at the Supreme Court, which should henceforth wage a relentless war against corruption. Corruption is the endemic cankerworm that threatens the fabrics and survival of Nigeria, as a nation.

Are you satisfied with the delay in arriving at the judgment?

I completely agree that justice delayed is justice denied, and that is a major problem in our judicial system. Our judicial reform exercise should seriously address the issue of decongesting the superior courts of record, as well as the magistrate courts.

We should seriously think of establishing the small-claims court that will be very summary and speed-oriented, so that our magistrate and other courts will only be concerned with summary criminal trials.

Having said that, may I also add that we need to establish more High Courts and Courts of Appeal and appoint more Justices and personnel of impeccable integrity to man our judiciary, from the Customary/Sharia Courts to the apex court.

We need to do a lot of work to improve the quality of the personnel that work in our judicial system. These suggested improvements will eliminate delays and improve quality in our administration of justice.

The prevalent situation in our system is that the richer and the powerful are more likely to obtain “justice.”

What is your view on the seeming power tussle in Kogi State between the Speaker of the state Assembly and the Governor(-elect) shortly after the apex court judgment?

It was a national embarrassment. The Speaker should go back to the House of Assembly and warm his seat there. He voluntarily sought election into the House of Assembly and he was elected to go there and serve; he was never elected into the Government House.

He has no business remaining there, thwarting and frustrating the will of the electorate, and to the utter frustration and detriment of the governor-elect, who should be there by the will of the people.

It is sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty for the Speaker to say that only a court order can get him out of the Governor’s Office, because it was not an order of court that sent him there in the first place.

Everyday, consciously or unconsciously, our politicians are doing things, making ill-advised decisions and conducting themselves in various ways and manners that will attract undesirable military intervention in our polity.

Why are Nigerian political leaders desperate, irrespective of their political affiliations? The Speaker and his godfathers went too far; one cannot be a governor through the back door without being so elected by the people.

Constitutionally, does INEC have the power to order the swearing in of the governor-elect in this situation?

The consequence of electoral victory declared by INEC is the swearing-in of the victorious candidate into office, unless there is an order of a court of competent jurisdiction to the contrary. As at today, there is no order of any court of competent jurisdiction restraining Idris Wada from being sworn in as the governor of Kogi State.

How is the judgment likely to impact on our democracy?

As I had earlier said, the judgment will have a positive impact on our democracy. It teaches us that impunity and arbitrariness will not be tolerated or accommodated in a true democracy. The rule of law is supreme in a true democracy, to which we aspire.

This country does not belong to any particular group or class of persons; it belongs to all of us, irrespective of tribe, tongue, religion or political affiliations.

We should make Nigeria a land where no man, woman or child is oppressed. Human rights should be vigorously and visibly enforced.

It will also assist our nation building efforts, if those who have stolen our public money are rounded-up and brought to book. If allowed to thrive, corruption will destroy Nigeria, as it did to the Roman Empire.

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