‘Many of the greatest crimes in history were caused not by hatred, but rather by indifference. They were caused by people who could have done something, but did not even bother lifting a finger. So don’t wait. Get out there….’
Yuval Noah Harari
This is indeed a time history makes news and current affairs to be more significant in nation building. I mean this is a good time when history shapes even breaking news. This is therefore a time to remind the nation again that if Presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan had taken Governor Olusegun Agagu’s petition on electoral injustice seriously, those who began (electoral) technical injustice at the Court of Appeal then would have been punished and lessons would have been learnt.
At that time, (2007-2013) the final arbiter on gubernatorial election was the Court of Appeal.
Let’s rehash the story that would have prevented the ‘technical injustice’ we are now surprised about in 2020.
The significance of this story is this: ‘Former Governor of Ondo State, Dr.Olusegun Agagu died of hypertension because Yar’Adua, Jonathan and NJC did nothing about technical injustice the Court of Appeal did to him. And despite his serious petition and discussions with the two leaders, they did nothing about how the nation could have prevented recurrence.
I wrote this same story as a companion piece titled,‘Echoes of Police Report on 2007 Ondo ‘Guber’ Election’
on this page on 19 November, 2016.
This is the story:
‘Not many people would remember that the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu was deeply troubled by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s recourse to political correctness by the way he (Jonathan) handled a very sensitive Police report on the 2007 Governorship Election in Ondo State.
Specifically, the special police report, which was not to cause a judicial review of the case decided by the Court of Appeal in Benin would have given the nation some insight into how some elected leaders secured dubious mandates from the judiciary.
Agagu had in May, 2010, addressed a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan claiming that the two judgments that removed him from power were essentially based on fake security reports. The former governor pleaded with Jonathan to order investigation of his claims. He had written in the petition: “My tenure as Governor of Ondo state was terminated on 23rd February, 2009 upon the verdict of the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin which confirmed the ruling of the Justice Nabaruma-led Tribunal that awarded the gubernatorial elections of 14th April, 2007 to Dr. Mimiko of the Labour Party.
“Essentially, the verdict of the tribunal and the Appeal Court were based on the acceptance by the judges that elections in 10 LGAs where PDP won were marred with irregularities and violence and therefore cancelled over 63% of votes cast in these LGAs while retaining all the votes in the seven LGAs where Labour Party won. In both judgments, the decision of the judges was substantially based on the fake security reports purportedly written by SSS, which flawed the elections only in the local government areas where I won.
“It must be emphasized that our lawyers objected to the admission of these purported SSS reports especially since the SSS officer subpoenaed stated clearly in the open Tribunal that the Department of State Security Service (SSS) did not have such reports. In spite of this, the judges still laid credence on the fake reports stating that the court is not concerned with how the evidence was obtained.”
The former governor had added in the petition that he was not interested in the judicial review of his case but that, “It is clear that if people who perpetrate forgery to pervert the course of justice and democracy and thereby change the course of lives of millions of people are allowed to go scot-free, they will be further emboldened to create even greater harm to our fledging democratic experiment.”
President Jonathan actually directed the police authorities to investigate the claims of Dr. Agagu, noting that such inquiries could curb corruption in the judiciary. The Police report was submitted to the government.
Report of the Police Special Investigation Unit (SIU) confirmed that the security reports, which the Labour Party (LP) tendered before the Justice Nabaruma-led Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal to prove that its candidate, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, won the 2007 governorship election in the state were forged.
The report, entitled: “Police investigation report on a case of forgery and altering of State Security Service report”, said eight of the nine security reports presented by the LP before the tribunal were discovered to be fake.
The then Director General of the SSS (now DSS)
confirmed the forgery to the court and the Police Special Investigation Panel. The report, which was in the custody of the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, was secretly released to Agagu after Governor Mimiko had secured a second term, which began in February, 2013. Agagu died seven months after (September 13, 2013).
The report recommended that lawyers and Labour Party leaders who procured and tendered the fake security reports should be arrested and prosecuted. No one was arrested before President Jonathan and AGF Adoke left office in 2015.
Besides, Agagu wrote to then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on the basis of the findings of the Police Special Investigation Panel, which discovered that the security reports used by Mimiko to displace the former governor from power were forged. The then CJN did nothing though the NJC.
This historical context indicates that unethical judicial intervention in the electoral process began long ago but when Agagu drew attention of the nation to it, the authorities did nothing.
***What was not added to the (2016) article here was that Agagu actually first sent the petition to President Umaru Yar’A dua who was already battling with ill-health. He did not address the petition before he joined his ancestors.
But the then President Jonathan who received the report that would have made the alleged forgers of security documents to face the consequences of forgery dozed off at that critical time when technical injustice nurtured by an emerging fraudulent electoral justice system appeared.
And here we are crying wolf in 2020 when the people still cannot decide who governs them in Imo state, no thanks to technical injustice and faulty calculators at a part of the Three Arms Zone in Abuja, our Abuja.
‘THEN THEY CAME FOR ONNOGHEN’
In the same vein, those who are asking questions about the root of ‘technical justice over substantial justice’ too should note that the oracle had also warned about the consequences of allowing an Administrative Tribunal to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria before the last election.
Let’s recall a bit what I wrote on this page too on 27 January: ‘Onnoghen and the elephant in the room’
I also repeated same context on April 7, 2019 in a piece titled, ‘Onnoghen, the morning after resignation’and asked, ‘…if they had indeed come for Justice Onnoghen as news broke that weekend that they had indeed concluded a plan to arraign Nigeria’s Chief Justice the following Monday for failure to declare his assets properly.
‘Now the battle for the soul of the judiciary ahead of elections – and election petitions hearing has been fought, lost and won. Justice Onnoghen has fought a good fight. But the strongmen have curiously defeated all of us and diminished democracy, not Onnoghen.
His secret file at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was secretly opened to a private petitioner whose petition was treated to begin tribunal trial within 72 hours. Behold, the trials of Brother Walter dramatically entered a new phase at the weekend when the CJN reportedly tendered his letter or resignation ‘to save the judiciary’.
‘But the morning after the authorities in Abuja approve the notice of resignation sooner than later, questions will crop up even if answers to them will continue to blow in the wind till 2023.
The likely questions:
• Why did the authorities designate Justice Onnoghen Acting CJN in 2017?
• Why was Acting President Yemi Osinbajo unable to send Onnoghen’s name to the Senate until the last day envisaged by Section 231:5 of the constitution, which would have made it impossible to resend his name for confirmation?
• Who invented Section 231, Sub-section 5 of the constitution, a president can always use to prevent confirmation of an Acting CJN?
• Who authorised opening of Justice Onnoghen’s confidential file to an NGO head when it is illegal to do so?
• Do we have to ask for the resurrection of Gani Fawehinmi before an action can be filed against the Code of Conduct Bureau and the private citizen who unlawfully obtained the secret file of CJN and his BVN number at the CCB strong room?
• Why did the Court of Appeal keep quiet on several appeals by the CJN for six weeks while the CCT trial was in top gear?
• Who released fake documents to a newspaper, which published that Justice Onnoghen had $3 million dollars in his foreign accounts and 55 houses?
• Why did a tribunal have to order IGP and DG, DSS, to arrest Nigeria’s Chief Justice a week to election?
• What was the Chief Justice of Nigeria humiliated in the dock a day to election when international observers and others were already in the country?
• Why did the NBA and other professional bodies including the media who fought for this democracy before 1999 curiously keet quiet while the Chief Justice of Nigeria was being humiliated by the authorities in a democracy?
• Do the authorities in Abuja know that a section of this complex federation will ask questions the morning after a new CJN is sworn in that the heads of the three arms of government: the President of the country, the President of the Senate, Head of the Judiciary (Chief Justice of the country), the President of the Court of Appeal, the Head of the Federal High Court will hail from one section of the country?
• Will the above question not compound a lingering national question about why all the heads of security, intelligence agencies, the IGP, etc, are from the same section and religion?
https://guardian.ng/opinion/onnoghen-the-morning-after-resignation/April 7, 2019’.
Here is the question: If the civil society and indeed the people had resisted removal of Justice Walter Onnoghen, the then CJN, would we have had a different electoral justice system today? Let’s debate healthily, please.
●Inside Stuff With MARTINS OLOJA was first published by The Guardian, Sunday, January 19, 2020.