The 2019 general elections have come and gone. Winners have emerged and the losers, known. Those dissatisfied with the outcome of the elections have either elected to accept their fate or challenge the declared results in court.
In the aftermath of the 2015 general elections, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, had elected not to go to court after losing to Muhammadu Buhari, the current president.
Nigerians and the world hailed that decision and there is no doubt that it saved the country from avoidable crisis.
This year, the incumbent has been declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the body charged with conducting elections in the country. The major opposition candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has gone to court to challenge the declaration of Buhari as the winner of that election.
Also other candidates for various positions across the country are also going to court following their dissatisfaction with results declared by INEC.
We hail these people’s recourse to due process. It is a far better option than resorting to violence and instigating crisis in the country. It also shows their belief in the rule of law, as well as confidence in the nation’s judiciary.
As the dust therefore settles on the elections and with some candidates going to court, we wish to call on the nation’s judiciary to remember their perception as the last hope of the common man. Indeed, where all else fails, a nation can ill afford to have its judiciary to also fail. The failure of the judiciary will be nothing short of an invitation to a lawless society.
The judiciary should therefore endeavor to live up to expectations, devoid of being compromised by anyone, party or government. An impartial and courageous judiciary will further strengthen the nation’s democratic process and rekindle the citizens’ hope in their country.
We also urge politicians to desist from attempting to compromise the judiciary but to allow it to act in the best interests of justice. Litigants are likely to accept defeat if they believe that justice is not denied them or manipulated against them.
Once the citizenry, politicians in this case, begin to see the judiciary as living up to expectations, electoral violence will be minimized as they will be secure in the knowledge that justice will be served in due course.
We therefore look forward to a peaceful litigation period by the political class and also hope that the judiciary will remain firm, unbiased and courageous in the dispensation of justice.