As in 2003 and 2007, the Supreme Court this morning rejected CPC’s appeal against the Lower Court verdict that the rigged Presidential election of 16th, April 2011 was properly conducted. All who witnessed the conduct of the 2011 elections would know that this decision of the Supreme Court is politically motivated and has little judicial content.
This Supreme Court has proved no better than the Supreme Courts of 2003 and 2007. For the records, let me refresh the public memory about what happened in the litigations after the 2003 and 2007 rigged elections. In 2003 we presented a cast iron case before the Court of Appeal citing several major infringements of the Electoral Act 2002. In particular we subpoenaed INEC to furnish the Court with proof of the “result” they declared. They did not, because they could not. The Court still declared the result as valid. Worse still, the Supreme Court upheld this dubious ruling of a dubious election.
In 2007 I and my Party the ANPP produced copious proof that the presidential election was rigged in the most blatant fashion. For one, ballot papers were distributed to polling stations on blank sheets of paper, making it impossible to carry out an audit trail. Secondly, during the process of tallying the result, the egregious Professor Maurice Iwu, then Chairman of INEC excused himself from the collation venue (after only 11 states and Abuja of the 36 states were tabulated) and announced the “result”. At the time he made this announcement voting materials had not even fully arrived in some states. Only in Nigeria and only under a government like PDP’s would these criminalities pass the sanction of the Judiciary. Yet on appeal, the Justice Idris Kutigi Supreme court after a long adjournment, declared the election valid, with three justices dissenting. In both elections, local and international observers condemned the elections in no uncertain terms.
What happened in this year’s 2011 elections eclipsed all the other elections in the depth and scope of forgery and rigging. Initially there were high hopes that after 2003 and 2007 a semblance of electoral propriety would be witnessed. The new chairman of INEC, Professor Jega, was touted as competent and a man of integrity. He has proved neither. After asking for - and getting – close on #100 billion for the election including biometric data with all ten finger prints to conduct a thorough electoral exercise, he botched it. When our Party CPC demanded forensic material, finger printed ballot papers to prove colossal and widespread multiple voting throughout the country rendering the election invalid in at least 25 out of the 36 states of the federation, INEC refused to provide them in Court, citing national security. A laughable excuse if ever there was one. The national and international monitors having seen their work wasted and ignored this time took the line of least resistance and declared the elections as o.k. Who can blame them? Yet the Justices of the Supreme Court have now seen nothing wrong in this.
To nobody’s surprise therefore, that spontaneous violence broke out in parts of the country after the announcement of the “result”. The Lemu Panel has come up with detailed causes of the riots and given lie to those who wanted to label the riots as my handiwork. The facts are that people were deeply angered and deeply provoked at the wanton conduct of the elections: the snatching and stuffing of ballot boxes, violence unleashed on opposition supporters, use of the police and elements of the army to intimidate injure and kill opposition supporters and flagrant change of results after collation such as in Niger, Bauchi and Kaduna states. Moreover the declaration of 86% - 90% of votes registered and cast in most part of the South-East and South-South states was highly implausible given the general turn-out of 50% - 60% in the rest of the country. No election is credible where 100% of votes cast were for one candidate in many constituencies and 90% in some states. This is plain fraud. No election can be validated if 100% of those registered all cast their votes in favour of the same candidate. It is for these reasons INEC refused to release the biometric data. The Supreme Court has turned a blind eye and deaf ear to these gross irregularities. That is the theme running through all three elections since 2003.
The country now has to live with the consequences of the actions of PDP government in collaboration with INEC, police and security services over the last 10 years. A country on the brink of developing into the major continental Power in 1999 is now a fractured society, corruption everywhere, violence everywhere, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness nearly everywhere. While the country is sliding into this chaotic state, PDP governments at the centre and in the states are engaged in massive and mindless plunder of the country’s resources in total disregard of the suffering masses.
The country now is in an emergency situation. Law and order can break down at any time. Those in charge of the country should be warned that promises and sweet words are no substitute for practical action. To avert the looming chaos in the New Year, immediate steps should be taken to drastically reduce the cost of governance in the three tiers of government. Salaries and especially allowances should be drastically reduced; security votes should be abolished – not increased as the 2012 Budget has done. Votes for the Armed forces, Police and Security Services should be transparent and accountable; foreign travel and estacodes should be stopped for at least six months other than for the Presidency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and medical emergencies. Government House expenses in all the states should be drastically reduced, foreign travel suspended for a while. The National Assembly should give a lead in reducing their allowances substantially and stopping their foreign travels. These savings should be applied to education, infrastructure and agriculture with emphasis on youth employment through meaningful and practical emergency programmes. The public will see through any cosmetic or token gestures and will not tolerate a continuation of status quo. Corruption and plunder are the root causes of unemployment, insecurity, violence and unrest.
If all hands are on deck to help save our country from imminent collapse we should stabilize. When that happens Nigeria should take a close look at the country’s structure in a calm and unemotional atmosphere. Hopefully we may come to a better form of government to see Nigeria through the next 50 years.
General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR