VP Osinbajo faults Court Decisions on Voters’ Will

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof.

Yemi Osinbajo has faulted the decisions of the Supreme Court that substitute the will of the electorate, insisting that the right of the people to elect their leaders must be protected by electoral laws and judicial interpretation in electoral cases.


Osinbajo spoke on Tuesday at the opening of the 53rd Annual Conference of the Nigerian Association of Law Teachers at the Bayero University, Kano.

The vice president said that the will of the electorate is central to democracy and is demonstrated by people voting for candidates of their choice in elections.

“This means that electoral justice must not be for the candidates alone.

Indeed the principal players; the electorate, must be front and centre of judicial reflection on how to determine electoral cases.

  The judiciary must be wary of substituting their will for the will of the electorate, they must seek every interpretation that leaves the people with the choice of who they prefer.

Citing the Supreme Court decision in the Case of APC vs.

Marafa  in Zamfara State in 2019 (SC.

377/2019),  Prof.

Osinbajo faulted the nullification of the elections of all candidates of All Progressives Congress APC, who were voted by the people by the Supreme Court on the ground that the party primaries that produced them were not validly conducted.

The Supreme Court had, in its decision on the election in Zamfara State in 2019, invalidated the elections of all candidates of the APC and ordered that candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, be returned as winners.

“So here was a situation where the party that lost every seat from governorship down to house of assembly was given all those seats by judicial pronouncement.

For the voter, this decision must have been at best puzzling.

First, they had no idea that the candidates of their preferred party were disqualified before voting.

  Indeed, at least, one court had declared the primaries valid and it was on that basis that INEC gave the go ahead to the candidates to contest.

“Second, rather than giving seats to those that the electorate had rejected ordering a rerun would probably have yielded perhaps a fairer result in the opinion of those who went to the polls that day.

 “The law, electoral processes, everything, must bow to the will of the people.

  The appropriate interpretation must favour the will of the people.

He expressed hope that participants at the conference would interrogate the issues he raised in the course of their three-day engagement.

Amendment bill
Vice President Osinbajo said that the Electorate Act Amendment Bill “is a testament to our commitment to improving our electoral process that we have an Electoral Bill that is presently in the process of being passed.

He said that the legislation that would emerge would be one that reflects a broad consensus between all the stakeholders.

“While INEC continues to improve its capacity to conduct credible elections particularly through the deployment of technology, we recognize that democracy is about much more than voting.

“It is also about constitutionalism, rule of law and respect for civil liberties.

We must diligently work to uphold these principles.

Social justice
Osinbajo stated that democracy would not endure without social justice and that the law and democracy are meant to serve beneficial social ends.

“More broadly, our idea of social justice also refers to the social and economic rights of the people.

“These include the right to food, shelter, employment, education and a reasonable national minimum living wage, care for the elderly, pensions, unemployment benefits and welfare for the physically challenged.

“These bequests are in the 2nd Chapter of the Constitution as part of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.

“Without social justice, legal justice is ultimately unattainable.

The degree to which citizens are in possession of their social and economic rights has a direct impact on the degree of their access to legal services and thence to justice.

“Our concern as teachers and practitioners of the law therefore must extend beyond the courtroom, beyond the precincts of our legal institutions to the social reality in which these structures exist.

Theme of ConferenceProf.

Osinbajo said the theme of the conference, “Law, Democracy and Electoral Process,” was apt not just because of the 2023 general election in Nigeria, but also because democracy has come under attack in West Africa in recent times.

The Chairman of the event, Abubakar Mahmoud urged participants at the conference to discuss issues that would emerge at the conference without reference.

High level of electoral litigationMahmoud, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, raised questions about the high level of electoral litigation in Nigeria, the high demand that politicians make on national judiciary resources and the amount of time devoted to settlement to electoral disputes.

“This is at a great cost to the nation and to the detriment of equally compelling needs of ordinary citizens and the dire need for speedy adjudication of commercial disputes,” Mahmoud stated.

He also spoke on judicial decisions on electoral matters that substitute the will of the electorate.

“The question remains open whether the courts have not assumed a higher duty than was constitutionally intended in settling election disputes.

“We know how many high level officials that have been ‘elected’ by whims of judicial pens or pronouncements often defying logic and judicial reasoning.

Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, represented by the Special Assistant to the President of Judicial Matters, Prof.

Lawal Ahmadu, reminded law teachers of the changing nature of the teaching profession and advised them to make of use the digital space.

Malami also asked the NALT to expand its mandate and to embark on capacity building for global competitiveness.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and the Emir of Kano were among dignitaries that attended the opening session of the conference.

Nneka Ukachukwu
VP Osinbajo faults Court Decisions on Voters’ Will

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