Former Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, on weekend, described as an anomaly, the increasing cases of election petitions at the tribunals to resolve issues of dispute from general elections. This, according to him, has prevented the people from choosing their leaders.
He said though the country’s judiciary is made up of reputable judges that are capable of resolving election disputes, the electoral process is threatened by the fact that with election petitions, politicians have handed the power of choice of the elected officers from the people to a few judges.
Jonathan stated this when the Bayelsa State governor and Chairman of the PDP Peace and Reconciliation Committee, Seriake Dickson and his members submitted the report of the committee to him at his Otuoke country home in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The former President lamented that the rising number of cases at the tribunals have greatly limited the peoples’ participation in the electoral process.
He said: “After voting, it is 10 million votes for governors or President. Your mandate may be upturned by a few judges. And this is anomalous in Nigeria. When I was the Vice President, a South African Deputy President was with me and I was discussing with Ban Kim Moon on whether Africa should give a fixed time for election petitions against President and Governors before being sworn-In. They may be distracted. He will not seat in the office and start going to court. The constitution gives immunity to governors and presidents.
“And they are not supposed to be distracted. If a Governor or President is sitting and facing litigation costing millions, his performance will be limited.” The South African woman present and I ask her what happens in South Africa. First, she was a bit surprised and said such situation does not happen in South Africa. She said South Africans don’t go to election tribunal after election.”
According to him, “Here in Nigeria, we have surrendered the power to choose to the courts. When elections are conducted, our people manipulate the election. We must return the power of electing our leaders back to the people.
“I am praying that one day, Nigerians will take that power of deciding leaders back and at the end of elections anybody who wins, wins genuinely and need not bother about court.
“I respect the judiciary and judges. They are credible men and women. They have decided to serve the people. They also sentenced themselves to semi imprisonment. “The average judge does not socialise to maintain their integrity. When we go and enjoy ourselves, they don’t. They are respected.
“We want our vote to count and not that after voting, a judicial panel will upturn the vote. I am calling on Nigerian youths to call for a close review of the election process to hand over the power of choice to the people,” he said.