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Heads Or Tail: The Nigerian Judicial Pronouncements.

Rumour has always swirled around that Nigerian Judges not only sell judgement to the highest bidder, they in fact, prepare two separate and differing judgements and pronouncement is made in the favour of the party with the juicer deal. In Nigerian parlance, “it is money for hand, back for ground”. But these were unconfirmed reports, more like one of those things everyone knows but can’t remember how they got to know.

Those rumours have now been confirmed beyond every reasonable doubt by the Court of Appeal which is the second highest court in Nigeria. The court sent out a Certified True Copy (CTC) of its own judgement in the Kano Governorship Election Petition that differed from what it pronounced verbally on Friday, November 17 2023. The tribunal had sacked the sitting governor, Abba Kabiru Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, while pronouncing Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressive Congress as the winner of the March 18 gubernatorial election, and the appellate court orally upheld that.

The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Haruna Isa-Dederi, however, informed the public that the CTC of the judgment showed that Yusuf’s Victory at the poll was affirmed by the appeal court during a Press Briefing on Tuesday, 21 November 2023. He disclosed that on page 67 of the CTC, the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of the Kano Election Petition Tribunal for lacking in merit.

According to the CTC, Justice Adumein stated “In the circumstances, I resolve all the issues in favour of the appellant and against the first respondent… Therefore, I find no merit in this appeal, which is liable to be and is hereby dismissed. The judgment of the tribunal in Petition No.: EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023 between AL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) v. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION & 2 ORS. Delivered on the 20th day of September 2023 is hereby set aside. The sum of N1,000,000.00 (one million naira only) is hereby awarded as costs in favour of the appellant and against the 1st respondent.” The appellant is Governor Abba and the 1st respondent is Nasiru Gawuna.

The Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Umar Bangari has however clarified the controversies. He ascribed what happened in the judgment’s Certified True Copy as a typographical error and asked all parties to return the copies in their possession for correction.

Reacting to all these, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman of the Human Rights Commission who has always described the Judiciary as crooked, said, “No credible Judiciary will produce a confusing CTC”.

All of these lend credence to the “All Eyes on the Judiciary” campaign and beg the question that if the Courts can make a ‘typographical error’, what moral right does it have to demand appellants to dot every i and cross every t? But more importantly, with the current state of the country, one can only hope that the Courts will stop being the whip of the Elite and truly become the hope of the common man.

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