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Chidi Odinkalu: The First Fruits Of A Crooked INEC




The bottom has fallen off the system of electoral administration under Mahmood Yakubu’s watch.

Evidence of the scope of the mess created by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the crooked leadership of Mahmood Yakubu began to emerge this past week. It all suggests network egregiousness on a monumental scale that easily rivals the elections of 2007, until now seen as the nadir in Nigeria’s journey of elective governance. 

As the National Judicial Council (NJC) released the names of the 257 judges who will sit to consider and decide on elections petitions around the country beginning in May 2023, it emerged this past week that, so far, 1,044 petitions have been filed against results declared by the INEC in the 2023 elections. That is already more than 70% of the 1,490 seats contested and it appears that these are not the final numbers. 

The relationship between election petitions and the acceptability of elections in Nigeria is one of direct proportionality. Candidates and parties who believe that the results reflect the will of the people are generally disinclined to continue the contest and more expenditure through the courts. Those who do not so believe re-litigate the contest through the courts. The numbers tell the story. 

Some 1,299 petitions, representing about 86.35% of the seats contested in 2007, ended up before the courts, a fact that prompted The Economist to describe Nigeria as a “democracy by court order”. With a mere 10 months to prepare and deliver the 2011 elections, Professor Attahiru Jega whom President Goodluck Jonathan appointed in 2010 to replace the rampant Maurice Iwu at the leadership of INEC, cut the number of petitions by nearly 58% to 751 in 2011. In 2015, the last election conducted under Professor Jega, only 677 petitions or 45.4% of the seats were on offer.

By contrast, with four years to deliver the 2019 elections, Professor Mahmood Yakubu managed to grow the number of petitions from the 677 he inherited in 2015 to 811 petitions or 54.4% of the contested seats. 

Four years later, the bottom has fallen off the system of electoral administration under his watch, with the proportion of petitions guaranteed to be much nearer where they were in 2007. Only a fool will believe that the judiciary can clean up this mess.

In many ways, the drama that accompanied the Adamawa State governorship elections embodies everything wrong with the INEC under the watch of Mahmood Yakubu. In that contest, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who goes under the appellation of “Barrister” Yunusa Hudu Ari, on 16 April and with full protection from senior officers of the Nigeria Police Force and allied security services, announced fake results without numbers and without authority, forcing an INEC hierarchy steeped in electoral scandal to make song and dance of disowning the declaration

The antecedents to this development as well as the aftermath, should detain us. 

Like the Chairman of INEC, “Barrister” Hudu Ari is from Bauchi State; and like the INEC chairman, he came from a supply pipeline that appears to bear the fingerprints of the Attorney-General of the Federation. In his home state, Bauchi, Yunusa Ari had worked as a civil servant, before retiring as a Permanent Secretary. He also previously served as secretary to the Bauchi Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA. 

But these were not what qualified him to be appointed a REC. His claim to fame is that he was chummy with the Attorney-General of the Federation. According to Leadership Newspaper, “Yunusa was classmates with the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami”, and “the age-long relationship between Yunusa-Ari and Malami played a crucial role in his emergence as REC.”

Less than eight months before the 2023 elections, in July 2022, President Buhari transmitted Yunusa Ari’s name to the Senate for confirmation as one of a cohort of 19 REC nominees. His identification with the ruling party was well known. 

Far from disqualifying him as the applicable laws required, these credentials of partisan propinquity made his nomination all the more appealing, guaranteeing his confirmation. Now that the elections are over, INEC admits that many of these RECs nominated by Buhari in 2022 “were clearly partisan and, to make matters worse, some were deployed to states where they had sympathy for the ruling parties.”

After Yunusa Ari’s criminal announcement of a non-existent result, the INEC headquarters intervened, purportedly to disown his conduct and summon him to Abuja. From the venue of the announcement, meanwhile, Yunusa Ari headed to the airport in Yola all the time under high-level police protection, where he boarded a private jet

He did not turn up in Abuja to answer the summons of his employers, however. Instead, the same employers went public to claim that he had vanished and they could not find him. The Police, under whose protection he acted up to the point of vanishing, suddenly announced an investigation into what happened.

If this all sounds like coordinated institutional hyperventilation manufactured for a cover-up, it is because it probably is. The possibility that Yunusa Ari could have acted this script all by himself and without coordination with other agencies or with people higher up the political and institutional food chain is less than zero. 

It is equally impossible that he could have left Yola on a private jet that then vanished from the airspace. Air Traffic Control had to have cleared the flight and the manifest had to have been filed with the Civil Aviation Authority, all federal agencies. Bringing him to account would entail unmasking this command chain of complicity and conspiracy.

Hours after Yunusa Ari’s fake declaration, Aishatu Dahiru, the serving Senator whom he sought to benefit in the Adamawa governorship contest, went to the Federal High Court in far away Abuja, asking it to affirm her as winner of the election. 

She did this by way of an ex-parte application, essentially asking the court to decide this matter without hearing any of the other parties in the contest or the INEC whose REC purported to declare her the winner. 

The court invited her to show how it had jurisdiction over her claim. Rather than do that, her lawyers elected to ask the court for permission to discontinue the case. But, instead of granting her application, the court dismissed it.

While he is supposedly a fugitive, meanwhile, Yunusa Ari has apparently been busy firing off missives to the police, the security services, and suing his employers. His address is presumably undisclosed and undiscoverable. 

The leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association, whose membership he advertises when he ostentatiously describes himself as a “Barrister”, has studiously averted its gaze from the peregrinations of this infamous member despite the demand of many of its members for the bar leadership to take steps to discipline him. Similarly, the Attorney-General of the Federation does not appear to have taken notice. 

If they were to choose to, the leadership of the Bar as well as the Attorney-General of the Federation would have remembered that Rule 1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in Nigeria’s Legal Profession preclude every lawyer from “any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner.” 

In a country in which the richest lawyers make their billions from inventing technicalities to justify crooked election results, it is no surprise that those who lead the Bar are unwilling and unable to notice that announcing fake election results and disappearing thereafter into thin air is not something that should be associated with a lawyer, especially not one who claims to be a “barrister”. But then again, anyone who feels a need to be addressed as “barrister” is probably far from fit for purpose, anyway. 

A lawyer & a teacher, Odinkalu can be reached at 

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Last Last Seun Kuti Becomes Obidient – Rudolf Okonkwo



Seun Kuti

Everything came together when Seun Kuti slapped a police officer on the Third Mainland Bridge.

Several weeks ago, in the heat of the 2023 campaign, I commissioned two social scientists conversant with Nigeria to help me map out the DNA of an Obidient. They went to work. Periodically, they sent me their findings. After stating that deep down, the Obidient movement is not about Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, Scientist #1 propounds that Obidients are desolate, dejected, and dislocated hitchhikers who saw a shiny wagon on a muddy road and hopped on. Scientist #2, on the other hand, sees them as reluctant anarchists plotting destruction in the bushes, only to be distracted by the sound of a noisy wagon full of hitchhikers enticing them to give the Nigerian project a final chance.

The first time they appeared close to a consensus was when Wole Soyinka intervened in the political process after the election in the infamous Datti/fascism debate. The team thought they had mastered the characteristics of the Obidient. They mentioned one particular trait, anger. They said that these were furious people who were also impatient. They compared them to one specific group during the Civil Rights Movement in the US that forced Martin Luther King Jr. to start to talk about the “urgency of now.”

The social scientists felt that the anger of these people steamed from years and years of being victims of the Nigerian state’s failure. The Obidients, the scientists, argued had become so disenchanted with their situation and the situation of their country that they have relegated the norms of their society to the back burner. They suggested that today’s global village offered new tools to these actors and amplified their sense of violation. When I asked for a better explanation, the scientists told me that what social media exposed them to about situations in other parts of the world heightened their expectations of their country’s leadership. Still, something in their pronouncements did not apply across the board.

Another case in point was when they used the example of Oby Ezekwesili’s intervention in the news story that Pastor Enoch Adebayo said that God would help the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, to fix Nigeria. For those who missed the drama, here is how it happened. According to a news report, Daddy GO sent one of his pastors to represent him at an event. When this little-known pastor, Dele Balogun, went, he read a speech. The day after, the newspapers reported what he said. And as it is tradition, they attributed the message to Pastor Adebayo.

Here is the exact thing Dele Balogun said. “Let us pray for the incoming government that God will support it and give it the Grace to do the right thing… Thank God the President-elect has promised to fix Nigeria. If God helps him, Nigeria will prosper in his hands.” The reaction of the Obidients was swift. They tongue-lashed Pastor Adeboye for keeping quiet when the elections were rigged, and voters were suppressed and killed.

Some people did not see anything wrong with what the man of God said. Any true man of God’s job is to pray for his country’s government. It doesn’t matter whether the government is elected, selected, or imposed.

Unfortunately, the Obidients do not pray like this. And they made Pastor Adeboye know that they don’t play like this.

Just like with Soyinka, the reaction of the Obidient shocked the political arena, including Obi himself. Peter Obi had to come out and disassociate himself from the tongue-lashing the Obidients gave Daddy GO Adeboye for daring to say what God told him. Obi even suggested that the people doing the bad stuff were disguised operatives from other parties trying to give his supporters a bad name.

For saying so, he got tongue-lashed by angry Obidients and supporters of other parties, from Reno Omokiri to Omoyele Sowore.

Even those who shared the news story were not spared. Former minister, Oby Ezekwesili, felt the need to defend Pastor Adeboye and to call Reuben Abati an unprofessional journalist and purveyor of fake news for tweeting the story. In the language of Obidients, Oby Ezekwesili called the story “utter rubbish.”

The social scientists agreed that there are numerous secret cells of Obidients across Nigeria. They said that the largest number of latent Obidients is in the North. They are waiting for a perfect trigger to coagulate around a mission, a name, and a movement. Despite the perception, the social scientists noted that the multitude of tomorrow’s Obidients in the North is not satisfied with their lives in relation to their peers in similar parts of the world. They agreed that a day would come when religion and tradition wouldn’t be enough to cage them and stop them from breaking loose and dethroning those who have diminished their lives.

“For now, it is enough for their leaders to point at others outside their region and blame them for the poor life they live,” the social scientists write. “That strategy is too old, but it is still working. But it won’t suffice for long. And when the North ignites, with abundant dry leaves, tears, and heartbreaks, there won’t be time to worry about trifles like respect for elders and constituted authorities. And the nation will be on fire when the North is on fire.”

In a pivotal reminder, the scientists pointed at Sudan, Egypt, and other Arab African states as examples of places where people who shared the same worldview as those in the North of Nigeria had stood up and demanded change. They believed that, eventually, it would get to the turn of northern Nigeria.

Peter Obi used to say that the society we abuse today would take revenge on our children. That was so yesterday. The new mantra is this: The society we abused yesterday is taking revenge on us. And one thing about revenge is that the first sign that it is in progress is that it decouples all the chains that connect it to a structured and functional law and order society. It baffles those who missed the cue, especially the elders, who are apostles of gradual and ordered transformation that will not upturn years of familiar social order and civilization.

In moments like this, philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, noted, “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

Nigeria wrings everyone born and bread in it until they become an Obidient. Depending on the material one is made of, some transform after just one wring, while others require a lot of wringing, punching, and slapping.

For the social scientists, everything came together when Seun Kuti slapped a police officer on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos. For the first time, the two social scientists agreed – last last, Seun Kuti becomes an Obidient.

And this conclusion is one that both Seun Kuti and the Obidients will disagree on. And nothing is as Obidient as that.

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include “This American Life Sef” and “Children of a Retired God,” among others.

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Why Dr. Tajudeen Abass Top Agenda For The 10th Nass Speakership




By Prince, Oriri Richard 

The Nigerian National Assembly will officially be inaugurated on the 13th June, 2023 for legislative businesses to commence, having successfully completed the 2023 General elections and members of the both Chambers of the National Assembly of 469 members, have been duly elected from their various Federal Constituencies and Senatorial Districts across the Country. 

The hovering controversial issue among stakeholders of the various political parties before 13th June is the leadership  selection process of both Chambers. Who gets what, when and how, according to Harold Laswell’s definition of politics, has been the heated arguments amongst Nigerians.

Foreseeing that the polity would be overheated,  considering the diverse interests from the Eight Political Parties that made it this time into the Nigerian National Assembly, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress – APC, sometimes in March, 2023, said that the Party would work with the President elect to zoning the national Assembly positions.

On the 13th of March, 2023, the APC leaders and the President and Vice President-elect met with all Senators and House of Representatives elect on the platform of APC at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, where issues bothering on zoning were discussed and members elect were advised by the leadership of the Party to go home and wait for Party’s position for the Assembly leadership zoning before inauguration of Parliament.

On the 8th of May, 2023, the ruling party, APC, through its National Working Committee-NWC, came up with the zoning arrangement where the position of Senate President was zoned to South-South and narrowed down to Senator Godswill Akpabio and for the Speakership, the NWC chooses Dr. Abbas Tajudeen, a ranking member of the house of representatives, was chosen as Speaker from Kaduna, North-West and Senator Barau Jibrin, Senator representing Kano North, was selected as Deputy Senate President from Kano, North-West, while Benjamin Kalu, the  current house spokesperson, was nominated as Deputy Speaker from Abia State, South-East geopolitical zone.

Reacting to rumours that Dr. Tajudeen ABASS was preferred by the majority of the Southern lawmakers elect because he’s not from the North, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze, a renowned politician from the South-East, and an 8yrs State Chairman of APC in Ebonyi State and the National President of the newly elected members of the 10th House of Representatives, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu downplayed the issue. Eze opined that newly elected members believed in capacity, competence of aspirant with democratic leadership style, which according to him, can be attributed to Dr. T.J Abbas. 

In his words, “with Dr. Abbas’s democratic leadership style, which the new members have taken note of from his profile and other means of investigation, every member of the 10th Assembly shall be  given equal  opportunity to participate, exchange ideas freely, and discussions shall be  encourage on the floor of the house”. In life, the law of favour is Value and Competence. Dr. Tajudeen ABBAS has alot of values and competence to offers the new members and we want to leverage on that. He stressed.

On National unity, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze said there are broken walls and open wounds along religious and ethnic lines in Nigeria after the general elections. The Country needs leadership that can heal the common wounds and restore unity back, which according to Eze, are qualities the newly elected members have found in the right Dr. T.J Abbas. It will interest you to know that among all our colleagues aspiring to lead us, it’s only Dr. Abbas who has a Christian sister as his personal Secretary from the South-East and a Christian brother as his personal driver also from the South-West. This alone has shown to us how patriotic he is and what he can do if elected by the way of carrying all interests along in his leadership decisions. Eze opined.

Eze went further to reiterated that, he’s a Party man who will always stand by the instructions of the leadership of his Party. By the special grace of God, Dr. Tajudeen Abbas and Hon. Benjamin Kalu will be sworn in as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively as we go in for the inauguration on the 13th June, 2023. He reiterated.

Hon. Dr Abbas Tajudeen was born on October 1st, 1963 in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. He is an educationist and politician representing Zaria Federal Constituency in the National Assembly.

Hon Abbas attended Kaduna Teacher’s College (KTC) Kaduna, where he obtained a grade II certificate in 1981. His quest for further learning took him to the great Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he studied business administration. He graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree. In 1993, he obtained a master’s degree in business administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. In 2010 he completed a doctorate degree in business management at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.

Hon Abbas was a primary school teacher from 1981 to 1988. In 1998, he became a lecturer at a polytechnic before moving to the Kaduna State University (KASU) in 1993. He taught at KASU until 2001. From 2001 to 2005, he was a marketing manager at NTC Plc.

Hon. Abbas was elected into the National Assembly in 2011 to represent Zaria Federal Constituency. He was re-elected in 2015 under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).  

Honourable Abbas has legislative interests in: appropriation, finance, education, national planning, health and public procurement.

Hon. Abbas has served in various House committees such as National Planning & Economic Development, Public Procurement, Defense, Social Duties, Finance and Commerce. He also served as Vice Chairman at Legislative Compliance Committee from May 2011 to May 2015.

Honourable Abbas target as a legislator is to ensure that the Nigerian masses are better provided with the basic and sound

education, that the  resources of the Nigerian masses are better managed to provide essential services for growth and in the overall interest of every citizen.

Honourable Abbas has many awards & Honours. Some of which includes: Fellow of the Association of Hospitality Management of Nigeria, 

Best Head of Department – Kaduna State Polytechnic(1993), 

Best Service Manager – Nigerian Institude of Management, Zaria (2009).

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Time For Judges To Be Statesmen




As Nigeria wraps up its election, attention shifts to the judges. With over seven hundred cases filed at the tribunals, the judiciary will be overworked. Yet we expect wisdom, courage, and intelligence to correct all errors, deliberate or otherwise, made by the political branches of government. We rest our hopes on the judges, and their power of judicial review, to rebuke impunity, reverse error and strengthen us toward electoral justice.  

It is ironic that whilst we think that increasing involvement of judges in determining who gets elected as political leader is inimical to consolidating democracy, we are forced to continue to call on judges to intervene in electoral matters for the sake of justice. Of course, courts are called temples of justice because they are fit and proper to receive the intercessions of a people who are brutalized, oppressed, and deprived of justice. So, the irony is not so depressing because when we beckon on judges to act in the name of justice, we are giving concrete expression to the expression that courts are temples of justice.

The conventional theory of constitutional democracy holds that there are two political branches and one non-political branch. The political branches are the executive and the legislature. Members of these two branches are elected by the people and have the liberty to act in furtherance of their interests. The theory of representation by foremost parliamentarian and jurisprudent, Edmund Burke, is that legislators are trustees of the people. As trustees, they are free to decide public interests according to their own understanding of what is in the best interests of the people. A contrary theory of representation argues that the legislator is but an agent of the people: he must do what the people want him to do, not what he thinks is best for the people. Whether legislators are agents or trustees of the people, the common logic is that the legislator act politically. To act politically is to advance the interests of one group notwithstanding that such interest is not rationally compelling. That is why we do not excoriate legislators who fight to ensure that projects are sited in their constituencies notwithstanding that economic rationality does not favor those places. We consider them good representatives. But we shame a judge who delivers judgement in favor of his relatives because of consanguinity.

So, the judicial branch is not so designed. Judges are not representatives of the people. A judge does not represent his family, his friends, or his constituency. He represents God in the religious sense, or rationality in ultra-rationality. Judges do justice. And justice is giving people what they deserve, not what they desire. We can see from this social portraiture that judges have more gravitas and bona fides to act as statesmen in times of troubles than representatives and executives. As we say, politicians care about the next election, but statesmen care about the nation. Judges ought to be statesmen.

The concept of judges as statesmen has a strong implication for sustaining democracy in difficult times and places.  In good times and places democracy is safe even with interest-based politics. The foundations of democracy rest on the rule of law. The rule of law means that all persons and authorities are subject to the law; that the law respects basic equality of all persons and the law is executed without deference to prerogatives and merits, apart from the merits of justice. Overlaying the foundations of rule of law is accountability. There is no exemption from the rigor of the law because the institutions of law enforcement are professionally commitment to fair and equitable implementation. In such a society where justice is routinized in administrative practices, the court plays a passive role and is self-restrained. Judges merely adjudicate in matters where vagueness obscures fair and equitable administrative of justice by the political branches.

But in a society where justice is not routinized as administrative practices become of political capture by a powerful minority or a numerical majority, the court moves from passivity to activism to reestablish the rule of law. The legendary Justice Oputa put this pointedly thus: “Whenever the law is used to foster social, racial, economic or sex oppression, the judiciary should quickly intervene to redress the imbalance and thus restore justice”. The court does not act when justice is routinized. The court acts when justice is denied, especially when it is structurally denied.

This articulation of judicial activism bodes well with a powerful theory about the judiciary propounded by Harvard professor Abram Chayes. It is the ‘governance’ theory of the court. Chayes argues that the court has a right to govern just like the other branches of government when the other branches fail to do the job. Ordinarily, the court forebears to govern trusting the more ‘political’ branches to govern. But where the two fail to govern, the court steps in. Then, judges become statesmen. This explains the various curves of judicial activism.

US Supreme Justice Stephen Breyer traces the context of judicial activism in the constitutional history of the United States. He shows different periods when the US Supreme Court shifted the gear to promote justice or to disrupt structural violation of the people’s rights. For example, he argues that before Justice Warren, the US Supreme Court “overly emphasized the Constitution’s protection of private property ‘as against rights of political participation. In the Warren era, the Supreme Court interpreted the constitution to move away from the logic of property right in the Lochner v. New York case and find a basis in the constitution for ‘active liberty’ for citizens to govern themselves through the principle of ‘one man one vote’. By so doing, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Warren reconstructed the United States away from the legacy of Jim Crow.

The court is a political institution. So said Robert Dahl. The court is a political institution because of the role that it plays in the political management of the society. In his book about the Nigerian Supreme Court. Professor Isa Sagay paints a picture of the Nigerian Supreme Court that rose up to defends fundamental rights against the corrosion of military dictatorship. That heroic Supreme Court of Eso, Obaseki, Oputa, Uwais and others understood that in times of crisis the court become a political institution that defends the rule of law from new threats. The Uwais court would not have done such if the structure of justice had not been eroded by military dictatorship.

The greatest seduction today will be to believe that we are now an entrenched democracy and therefore the court should carve for itself a routinized retail work that does not override the iniquities of the political class. That is a recipe for disaster for the commonwealth and irrelevance for the court. The true description of Nigeria today is, as the University of Guttenberg’s acclaimed ‘Verities of Democracy’ report 2022 puts it, ‘an electoral autocracy’. Nigeria is not yet a democracy by the evident capture of state institutions by ruling elites. The 2023 election has further cemented this reputation. The election has seen the recklessness of Nigerian politicians who refuse to respect the most fundamental tenets of electoral democracy.

We have always had electoral irregularities and frauds. But we have never had this level of criminalization of elections and wanton collapse of regulatory oversight. The election manager, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused to apply its own electronic safeguards in a bewildering capitulation to political banditry. Even the basic regulatory tasks like determining the eligibility of candidates to stand for elections and whether candidates have multiple nominations, regulatory oversight that could be established without expending resources, were abandoned. The regulator did not bother to apply simple rules, even rules that it made pursuant to its statutory powers.

The Supreme Court has inherited the regulatory failures of the election manager. It has been saddled with correcting the impunity of the political class. It beholds that the country is disintegrating on account of reckless disregards for basic rules of justice. It sees the continuing immiseration of the people whose anger is boiling over. The judges know that unrebuked impunity has established a powerful incentive structure that will inexorably lead to the total collapse of the rule of law. In such situation, judges must become statesmen to save their beloved country. They have many things challenging them. They will contend with fear for their lives. They will contend with favors from corrupt politicians. But they should brush aside all these and do justice, even if the heavens fall.

All eyes are on the judges. 

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