I am going to begin by reproducing excerpts from the scriptures; and factual reportage of the politico-judiciary controversy over the candidacy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming governorship election on November 26th 2016 in Ondo State. First, the archetype judicial arbitration virtue of King Solomon:
The story is recounted in 1 Kings 3:16-28. ‘Two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son came to Solomon for a judgment. One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other. After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He declared that there was only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy’s true mother cried out, “Oh Lord, give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!” The liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, “It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!”
Second is the twist and turns (of the post October 14th INEC intervention) attendant on the disputed candidacy of the PDP in the November 26th governorship election encapsulated in the following excerpts: “Ms. Sankey (chair of the three member appeal court panel) had earlier on Tuesday recused herself from presiding over applications brought by Eyitayo Jegede, the candidate of the Ahmed Makarfi’s PDP faction. Her decision, which was also taken by the other two members of the panel, was on the ground that a petition had been written against them by Biyi Poroye, the state chairman of the party, from the faction led by former Borno State governor, Modu Sheriff. The petition dated October 31, read in court, said that the Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko had allegedly boasted of bribing the presiding judge with a sum of N350 million.”
“The petitioner, Mr. Poroye, claimed that Mr. Mimiko made the statement at a public gathering and that he had earlier boasted of treating Ms. Sankey to a bribe of N100 million. Mr Poroye, in the petition, alleged that Ms. Sankey had been sick for the past five years and had most likely spent her fortune on treatment, hence the possibility that she would be prone to being compromised for financial gains.
He added that Ms. Sankey was transferred from Yola, where Mr. Jegede had practised for over 15 years, and therefore she could have had strong ties with the applicant. He also faulted what he termed as ‘the composition of a special panel to hear a pre-election matter’, adding that there was no reason for the President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, to have done so since the appeal was not time bound, Izinyon prayed the court to grant a short adjournment, submitting that there is no need for urgency as the case is a pre-election matter.”
“Ms. Sankey had also condemned the decision of the petitioner to have used her illness as a basis for the allegations against her. Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it.
It is painful that the petitioner used my ailment predicament to insult me, to allege that I am a poor Judge, sick for five years and prone to corruption. I am ready to carry my illness on my shoulder, but it is unfair for the petitioner to make my sickness an issue in his petition,” she had said. “The petitioner is not only complaining about the speed with which the panel is going about the case, he also said that the setting up of the panel is unnecessary because the case did not require any urgency. The petitioner accused me of being very poor. He said because I was ill some years ago, I have become so poor that I am open to corruption. He is using my illness of about five years ago to say I am so poor that I am now open to corruption. I carry my poverty with pride. I will not steal anybody’s money,” Justice Sankey said.”
In a perverse and cynical exploitation of the integrity crisis rocking the Nigerian judiciary-typified by the saga of the recently suspended seven leading judges, the chairman of so called Alli Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP in Ondo State, Mr Bisi Poroye, called the integrity of the appeal panel judges to question in a most scurrilous and insidious manner. For illustration, think of riotous inmates of a crowded pigsty kicking and wallowing in the mud. For good measure, the petition read nothing of a weighty allegation before a judicial panel but more like a hatchet job trivia in a scandal sheet publication. From his elusive abode that presently precludes accountability, Poroye took maximum liberty and licence to smear, corrode and assassinate character. It was a gross abuse of court process.
It was not enough to allege that the conscience of the judges was suborned and bought with N350 million, he had to cruelly invade the medical records privacy of Justice Sankey to fudge the motivation of a financially exhausting and impoverishing illness. Under the standard dispensation of the rule of law, an allegation is required to be proved not maliciously extenuated. What the court requires is the veracity of allegations not the reason for committing crimes.
Given his absurd proclivity for extrapolation, it is noteworthy that he did not similarly explain why the giver of the bribe, Governor Mimiko of Ondo State, would find the need to mindlessly risk his investment and provide incriminating evidence by ‘publicly bragging’ about corrupting the judges. I cannot vouch for Sankey and co, but what I do know is that against the immediate backdrop of the swirling publicly shamed corruption crisis of the Nigerian judiciary and within days of the suspension of seven suspected judges, it would take a most fool hardy reprobate judge to dabble in ‘judgment for bribe’ behaviour in such a sensitive high profile case.
That said, let us now proceed with the presentation of the case of the contending parties before the temple of King Solomon’s virtual court. In the light of the display of his vintage judicial wisdom, how would the wise king have arbitrated the contrived candidacy crisis? Three weeks to the governorship election in which the party, PDP (each side wishes to represent) will face off against formidable opponents, below are the separate pleas entered by the two contenders:
“When the panel sought the views of Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who represented Jegede, the lawyer said he was embarrassed by the petition. He condemned it and asked that the panel should proceed to hear the case in view of the fact that time was of the essence.
“The other party to the case faulted what he termed as ‘the composition of a special panel to hear a pre-election matter’, adding that there was no reason for the President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, to have done so since the appeal was not time bound, Izinyon prayed the court to grant a short adjournment, submitting that there is no need for urgency as the case is a pre-election matter…”
The value free and detached inference from the two positions above is that one wanted a quick expedited resolution of the case while the other was, at best, indifferent to the imperative of the time constraint. Again and without regard to the two positions, a scientific observation is that insensitivity to the time constraint carries the implication of being ultimately indifferent to the prospects of the PDP in the governorship election, that it is of no concern whether the Party wins or loses.
Indeed the impression one gathers from the disposition of Poroye, Jimoh Ibrahim and Alli Modu Sheriff, is that the end they seek to achieve begins and ends at the Abuja courts. Given that the INEC has ruled in his favour, it would be expected Ibrahim and his coterie to seize this cue and revert to Ondo state to mount a robust victory seeking campaign rather than find contentment in staying put in Abuja and thereby effectively cede the field to the rival candidates and Parties. Wouldn’t this disposition be an illustration of the ulterior motive to play the spoiler like the guilty woman in the Solomon court?
In another perspective, this contrived PDP self-destruction in the Ondo state theatre, is a culmination of the Modu Sherrif tragedy in the Party. At variance with any iota of political correctness, decency and esteem, he materialised from nowhere to be touted for the stop gap chairmanship of the Party. In the event, the damage he ended up wreaking on the PDP is consistent with the pedigree of the trail and tale of woes, wreckage and brigandage that has been the hallmark of his public life career.
Short of being held in thrall to bewitchment, it is difficult to account for how Sheriff got sold to the more reflective cadre of the PDP hierarchy in the first place. To put it in the words of the late Nigerian political philosopher, Ojo Maduekwe, the proposition of Sheriff as interim chairman of the Party amounted to a cure worse than the disease of resolving the crisis attendant on the two months outstanding on the North East tenure of the Party chairmanship. At the minimum he enjoys a pride of place in the oblique and opaque origins of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Stop Press: What the hell is going on in the (dis)United States of America? And now that the unthinkable has happened I feel so shell shocked that (following Donald Trump) I may have to temporarily take leave of this column until such a time I can figure out what the hell is going on! Meanwhile and in solidarity with the global Muslim Ummah, I consider myself an honorary Muslim equally encumbered by the prospective policy of Mr Trump to discriminate against Muslims wishing to visit America.