ADAMAWA’S EXCELLENT AND HONOURABLE MESS by Eugene Enahoro

If any further evidence was needed to buttress the conclusion
that our political class have no integrity and aren’t concerned
with the public interest, the recent events in Adamawa State
provided it in glaring detail. Adamawa is one of the three
North East states still under a state of emergency. At a time
when they should be uniting to bring peace, prosperity and
progress to their people, Adamawa political leaders have been
fully occupied with political intrigue.
Their shameful self-centred behaviour serves only to give more
credence to those who argue that they are all unworthy of
office and are a major part of the problem with the state.
Following the impeachment of the governor, the former deputy
governor had asked the Federal High Court to declare his own
resignation void, arguing that the letter in his handwriting
given to the Speaker was unconstitutional because it was not
handed to the governor. The truth is that the laws governing
impeachment proceedings are defective. For example supposing
the governor dies and the deputy does not want to take over,
who does he resign to? Convinced that the state’s House of
Assembly’s acting upon the letter was an illegality, the judge
voided the processes under which the Speaker became Acting
Governor and ordered the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) to suspend governorship by-elections.
This decision to instate the former deputy governor as
substantive Governor completed a circle of absurdity. Taking
into consideration the expenses associated with litigation,
electoral campaigns, and INEC preparing for cancelled
elections, this whole charade has wasted billions. Although the
honourable justice’s ruling was in accordance with the law it
was myopic, the end result being the new governor profiting
from actively participating in an illegality. The real crux of the
matter is that the letter was written in order to forestall
impeachment, and there was either an intention to resign or to
fool the people, yet the Judge allowed the former deputy
governor to benefit from his own wrong. One of the
outstanding Judges of the last Century was the legendary
Lord Denning, Britain’s former Master of the Rolls, whom most
Nigerian judges would do well to emulate. Known for bold
judgments, he was quoted as saying “unlike my brother judge
who is concerned with the law, I am concerned with justice”.
Whenever faced with a situation that seemed dishonest, unjust
or wrong, Denning would find a remedy even if the wrongdoer
appeared to have the law on his side. Firmly believing that each
case should be treated on its own merit, he campaigned
vigorously against using precedent when deciding cases with
similar issues or facts. His devotion to justice was rooted in his
strong faith. Denning said “without religion there is no
morality, and without morality there is no law”, and judgments
are simply “a solution that the majority of right-minded
people would consider fair”. The majority of right-minded
people don’t think it’s fair that any of the major actors in
this matter should benefit from the complete waste of time
and money occasioned by their political antics. In the legal
proceedings the public interest was never taken into
consideration. Adamawa citizens were not a party to the case;
the litigation was not instituted in the public interest, but for
personal interests.
Some legal experts claim the honourable justices’ hands were
“tied” because in matters of parliamentary democracy Judges
have no right to stretch the interpretation of law to an extent
which amounts to the creation of a new law. But whenever
Denning’s hands were tied and he couldn’t ensure justice, he at
least made sure he left markers for the future by openly
dissenting with the law while enforcing it in his judgments. In
the Adamawa case the honourable justice declined to make
reference to insincerity by the man he installed as Governor.
Perhaps one day Nigeria shall be blessed with Judges who have
the courage and patriotism, to understand that their major
concern should be making this country a fairer and more
equitable society by dispensing justice as opposed to simply
enforcing laws.
As for the actors involved in this matter their antics come as
no surprise. Nigerian politicians have a well-earned reputation
for behaving dishonourably, having no scruples, hardly ever
telling the truth, and being irredeemably corrupt. Our ever
growing socio-economic problems are rooted in the total
ineffectiveness of State Houses of Assembly who have without
exception failed in their duty to ensure effective governance
by checking corrupt practices and authoritarian ten-dencies
on the part of the executive. Instead of doing the job they are
paid to do, they focus on receiving underhand payments for
passing legislation and moving impeachment notices. Their
selfish behaviour impedes responsible governance and impacts
negatively on our development. Legislatures are suppo-sed to
be responsible for guaranteeing strict adhe-rence to
constitutionalism and the rule of law, but the Court ruling
illustrates that a Speaker and Members of the House don’t
even know the law as it concerns themselves!
The main actors in this drama were his Excellency the executive
governor, his Excellency the deputy governor, the Honourable
Justice, and the Honourable Speaker of the state’s House of
Assembly. Until such as time as our Governors concern
themselves with excellent performances in office, our judges
concern themselves with justice, and our Honourable Members
live up to the appellation by acting morally, our nation shall
continue to experience this sort of “excellent and honourable”
mess!

Opinion Published by Daily Trust newspaper on Tuesday, 14 October 2014  Eugene Enahoro
dr_enahoro@yahoo.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s