By Jibrin Ibrahim
It was Adams Oshiomhole, I think, who long ago introduced the concept of Jankara judgment. He drew inspiration from the well-known market where EVERYTHING is available for sale to make the point that increasingly, people with resources – power or money, are able to shop for judges who deliver ANY RULING that is required for a fee. Currently, just on the one matter of the legitimate leadership of the People’s Democratic Party, there are seven conflicting rulings/judgments, all from courts of coordinate jurisdiction that have been delivered.
As the Edo elections approaches, no one has any idea which candidate – Makarfi or Sheriff faction will be the candidate as INEC ponders on the seven contradictory rulings and judgments laid before it? Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of the Federation and the National Judicial Council are saying nothing, thereby giving the impression that it is completely normal for people with resources to work from the answer to the question as they fly around Nigeria seeking for judges that are willing to sell Jankara judgments if the price is right.
Lets look at some examples but before then a health warning – judgments in Nigeria are not written in the English language and any attempt to understand them leads to headache. On May 12, 2016 the Federal High Court in Lagos made an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the PDP from conducting an election for national offices pending the determination of the substantive suit. On 18th May 2016, the FCT High Court delivered a judgment in Abuja wherein it declared that by Article 47 (i) of the PDP Constitution, the appointment of Ali Modu Sheriff as PDP Chairman is valid and subsists till August, 2017.
On June 29th, 2016 the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory delivered judgment on the “purported amendment of Article 27 (6) of the PDP Constitution of 2012 at a special National Convention of the party, held on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th of December, 2014 is unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect, for non – compliance with mandatory due process as provided in Article 66 (2) and (3) of the said constitution. By reason of this judgment, the purported amendment introduced in Article 47 on the aforesaid dates is hereby set aside. All persons or individuals, officers, servants and agents of the PDP parading themselves as national officers of the PDP, purportedly pursuant to the said amendment, which has now been nullified are hereby restrained from further parading themselves around in those capacities and claiming the rights and privileges attached or appurtenant.”
On 30th June 2016, the Federal High Court Abuja made the following orders: “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 1st Defendant (INEC) by itself, officers, servants or privies from dealing with and according any recognition (including primary elections/congresses for the nomination of candidates of the PDP for the gubernatorial elections to be conducted by the 1st Defendant in Edo and Ondo states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) purportedly on behalf of the 2nd Defendant by any other persons other than the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Prof. Wale Oladipo and Fatai Adeyanju led National Executive Committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons. An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd Defendants or their organs, officers, agents, servants, surrogates and privies from according recognition to, dealing with and according all facilities required by law (regarding gubernatorial elections to be conducted by the 1st Defendant in Edo and Ondo States of Nigeria) to any other persons or groups other than the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Professor Wale Oladipo and Fatai Adeyanju led National Executive Committee of the PDP, pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons. An order directing the 1st and 2nd defendants by their organs, officers, agents, servants, surrogates and privies to recognize, deal with and accord all facilities required by law (regarding the gubernatorial elections to be conducted by the Defendant in Edo and Ondo states) to the Executive Committee of the PDP, as the authentic National Leadership, National Executive Committee and National Working Committee of the 2nd Defendant, pending the determination of the originating summons. An order directing the 1st and 2nd Defendants to reject and ignore any activity (including primary elections/congresses for the nomination of candidates of the PDP for the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) purportedly conducted on behalf of the 2nd defendant by any other persons or group of persons other than the Ali Modu Sheriff, Professor Wale Oladipo and Fatai Adeyanju led National Executive Committee of the PDP, pending the hearing and determination of the Originating Summons.”
On 4th July the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt delivered the following judgment: “That the 1st and 2nd Defendants or any and/or all the National Officers, the members of the National Executive Committee and members of the National Convention who were removed from office by the National Convention of the Plaintiff held on 21st day of May, 2016 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State CANNOT hold or continue to hold themselves out either individually or collectively as the Chairman, Secretary or National Officers or National Working Committee of the Plaintiff.”
The Federal High Court in Abuja on 28th July, 2016 delivered a Bench Ruling and held as follows: “That the Port Harcourt convention held on 21st May, 2016 was unlawfully held and the Caretaker Committee was unlawfully and illegally appointed and cannot take decision on behalf of the PDP. That any action taken by the Senator Makarfi led Caretaker Committee having regard to the subsistence of the orders of Lagos Division of this court, inclusive of the authority to issue letter of instructions appointing Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) or any other person as Counsel to act for the PDP, is unlawful, illegal and accordingly declared null and void. That the convention was held in violent contravention of the orders of this court, Lagos Division, dated 12th May, 2016, 20th May 2016 respectively. That unless the orders of the Lagos Division of this court are set aside, Senator Makarfi led Caretaker Committee of PDP acts in vain in affairs of the PDP. That having regard to the subsisting orders of Lagos Division of this court dated 12th May 2016, 20th May 2016 and the order of this court as presently constituted dated 30th June 2016, Dr Ali Modu Sheriff is the National Chairman of the PDP inclusive of authority to appoint a Counsel to represent it in court.”
I believe judges listen to the radio and television and read newspapers and if they do not, they should be forced to. There is no one who is not aware of several Jankara judgments being issued every week, why do judges who are aware of previous rulings and judgments accept new cases on the same issue. If the truth is that the judges are compromised into deliberately making Jankara judgments, why are the judicial authorities silent? How can we deepen our democracy and continue to improve the quality of elections if judgments can be procured? Why can we not modernize our judicial practice and force lawyers and judges write in plain English?
In a lecture he gave in 1986 entitled “The common Man and the Common Law”; Justice Akinola Aguda argued that the notion of equality before the law in our society is a myth. The powerful person and the common person are not equal before the law. One reason he gives is that success in cases is so dependent on the procurement of high quality lawyers. Today, we have moved from the level of the procurement of lawyers to the purchase of judges. When corruption becomes pervasive in the judicial system, justice is thrown out of the window. Our situation is worse because the few thousand people who have stolen billions can each buy their own “justice” creating total anarchy in the system. In the same lecture, Justice Aguda warned that if judges are not held responsible for their judicial actions, the system couldn’t deliver justice. The few judges that have been found guilty of wrongdoing are simply retired so that they can have sufficient times to enjoy the billions of Naira they have received as bribes. That is simply not good enough.
Jibrin Ibrahim PhD., is Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, Nigeria.
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