“Signs coming from our courts show that elections or selections in 2027 will be war” – Senior lawyer Okutepa

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Jibrin Okutepa, has warned that the 2027 general election would be a “war” if happenings in the nation’s courts on the 2023 election are anything to go by.

Okutepa was on the 2023 presidential election petition team of Labour Party (LP) candidate, Peter Obi.

“From some decisions there is no need seeking electoral justice in Nigeria courts or tribunals anymore.

“Nothing you do that the judicial system will not find faults with,” he said.

Okutepa spoke in a long post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.

He maintained that as a lawyer he took it as a duty to defend the institution of the judiciary in Nigeria and has always performed that duty to the best of his ability.

According to him, the judicial institution is an important and the most important arm of government which has duties and responsibilities to decide all manners of disputes.

However, he said, “In defending judicial institution, the judiciary must endeavor to earn the respect and trust of the people by the kind of decisions it gives.

“In recent times it has become increasingly difficult to defend some decisions in electoral jurisprudence.

“Yes, let me say it again that it is difficult defending some judgments in recent times in our electoral jurisprudence.”

Okutepa added, “From some decisions, there is no need seeking electoral justice in Nigeria courts or Tribunals anymore. Nothing you do that the Judicial system will not find faults with.

“The signs coming from our courts show that elections or selections in 2027 will be war. Yes war. Winning at all costs without regards to democratic tenets.

“But when the fruits of the seeds of injustice being planted in judgments by Nigerian courts in aid of electoral frauds in electoral jurisprudence germinate sooner or later, all those planting the seeds in judgments and members of the legal profession may not escape the calamitous end of our democracy.

“No judge or lawyer can practice in a state of lawlessness and anarchy.”

In apparent reaction to the Court of Appeal ruling on the Nasarawa gubernatorial election, Okutepa said, “To hold that subpoenaed witnesses cannot testify in election petitions either orally or by written form is indeed a recipe for injustice, anarchy and destruction of Nigerian democracy.

“To say that INEC is not an adversary in election petitions but it is an independent umpire is difficult to understand.

“There is no doubt the Constitution gives judiciary responsibility to resolve disputes. In the wisdom of the draftsman judiciary is an arbiter to resolve dispute for peace and progress of the nation.

“The judiciary as an institution that has responsibility to aid justice cannot continue to mount judicial roadblocks for attaining that justice on the arid altar of technicality without thinking of the dare consequences on our nation.

“Stolen evidence we are told is admissible. Electoral Act 2022 makes Evidence Act applicable in the hearing and determination of election petitions.

“Subpoena is one of the ways to get evidence and bring it before the Court under the Evidence Act.

“The provisions of the 1st schedule to the Electoral Act 2022 is the rule of procedure. It is not a substantive law. It cannot be used to defeat the end of justice. But that is what is going on now. The courts have suddenly become slave to procedural law in total disdain to justice and common sense. What a country of absurdities of illogicality.”

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John is a University of Lagos-trained journalist who has read almost every novel written by Chinua Achebe, Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. He's an expert Scrabble and draughts player who is also excellent at swimming.
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