GOLDEN ADVICE FROM LATE JUSTICE NIKI TOBI.

The election tribunals across the country have started reeling out judgements on matters arising from the 2019 general elections. The few that have so far been made public are generating a lot of hues and cries from the losers while those that are favoured by the judgments are celebrating.

It is amidst these mixed feelings that I received a shared mail on the landmark judgement delivered by Justice Niki Tobi.

As a layman I was fascinated with the content of the judgement, the simplicity of language it was written. Not only that the judgement is like an advice to judges handling election matters. It is also a lesson to the ordinary citizens and hopefully to the politicians who love this country and the entrenchment of our nascent democracy.

Before I received the shared judgement I was writing on the arrest of some Nigerians in the United States, of America for Internet Scam. I decided to put the piece on hold because of the judgement reeled out by Kogi State election tribunal sacking Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West.

I felt the judgement delivered by Justice Niki Tobi, would be worthwhile to share with my readers maybe we can learn something from it or enjoy reading it;

“I see from Exhibit EP2/34 the need for Nigerian Judges to maintain a very big distance from politics and politicians. Our Constitution forbids any mingling. As Judges, we must obey the Constitution.

The two professions do not meet and will never meet at all in our democracy in the discharge of their functions.
While politics as a profession is fully and totally based on partiality, most of the time, judgeship as a profession is fully and totally based on impartiality, the opposite of partiality.

Bias is the trademark of politicians. Non-bias is the trademark of the Judge. That again creates a scenario of superlatives in the realm of opposites. Therefore the expressions, “politician” and “Judge” are opposites, so to say, in their functional contents as above; though not in their ordinary dictionary meaning.

Their waters never meet in the same way Rivers Niger and Benue meet at the confluence near Lokoja. If they meet, the victim will be democracy most of the time and that will be bad for sovereign Nigeria. And so Judges should, on no account, dance to the music played by politicians because that will completely destroy their role as independent umpires in the judicial process.

Let no Judge flirt with politicians in the performance of their constitutional adjudicatory functions. When I say this, I must also say that I have nothing against politicians. They are our brothers and sisters in our homes. One can hardly find in any Nigerian community or family without them.

There cannot be democracy without them and we need democracy; not despotism, oligarchy and totalitarianism. They are jolly good fellows.

The only points I am making is that their professional tools are different from ours and the Nigerian Judge should know this before he finds himself or falls into a mirage where he cannot retrace his steps to administer justice.

That type of misfortune can fall on him if the National Judicial Council gets annoyed of his conduct. Ours are not theirs. Theirs are not ours. I will not say more. I will not say less too. So be it.” (Niki Tobi, JSC).

I refuse to draw conclusions on this because I want you to come to your own conclusions and share it with us.

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