Youth Groups Describe Conflicting Tribunal Judgments as Scandalous: Calls on NJC to Investigate Cases Involved.
By Precious Ahiakwo
Worried over the conflicting tribunal and Appeal Court cases in Zamfara, Plateau, and Kano states of the country, a coalition of youth groups and non-governmental organization in the South-south region is asking the National Judicial Council to immediately investigate all that occurred at the Tribunals and Court of Appeal in the affected states.
The coalition at a press conference in Port Harcourt, while speaking through its spokesperson Podoki Austin, on the current developments relating to democracy, economy and the rule of law in the country, described the judgments as scandalous.
He said “Even to us as youths in the South-south, it is glaringly clear that the contradictory nature of the lead judgment in the Kano appeal case is scandalous and is an indicator to what the people of Nigeria see about the judiciary. A couple of paragraphs and sentences cannot be defined as clerical error. Nigerians may keep quiet but we are not fools”.
“We say this because the decisions of the courts in these three volatile states (Kano, Plateau and Zamfara) constitute an existential security threat to the country. With the existing theatres that the military are bravely tied down to at the moment, we do not feel it is wise to open other chapters.”
“The judiciary must immediately look inwards to correct the negative impression that Nigerians have about them. The NJC (National Judicial Council) must investigate all that occurred with the Tribunals and Court of Appeal in the Zamfara, Plateau cases and especially with the Kano State Gubernatorial Appeal Court decision.
The coalition which includes; the South-south Routine Movement, Rivers chapter; Delta Youth Movement for Good Governance; Bayelsa Routine Movement, also accused the political class of using the judiciary as a tool against the people.
On the just concluded elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi, the spokesperson for the Coalition and Bayelsa Routine Movement, Podoki Austin expressed sadness that the electoral umpire INEC, has not been able to show that it can deliver a free, fair and transparent election in the country.
According to the group, “We are all witnesses to the struggles that citizens of our country are currently going through. Our democracy, especially as could be seen by all after the 2023 general election and also the three off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states is under threat.
“The electoral umpire was unable to deliver free, fair and transparent elections and it is probably right to say that Nigerians on the whole feel that the country is worse off than after the 2019 election. The economy of the country is in a sorry state. The Naira has lost value.
“Inflation, especially food inflation, is on the high side. Unemployment is on the rise, and more concerning to us is youth unemployment. Our currency is now weaker than those of our neighbors. All these have led to higher costs of feeding, education, accommodation, transportation and health care.
“The Rule of Law is also under strain. Unfortunately, it is clear to all that the judiciary has never had it this bad in the country. The various cases from the elections and the sometimes conflicting and contradictory judgements from the tribunals and now the Appellate Court have made the average Nigerian feel that the judiciary is no longer the last hope for the common man.”
The coalition, in its prayers, demanded that governments at all levels, especially at the federal level, should cut its costs.
“Our country is neck deep in debt and we are still borrowing. Unfortunately, our government is busy buying four wheel drives, renovating and still enjoying the same VIP privileges whilst it has told the people to tighten their belts”.
They also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to use its monetary policy tools to gradually reduce interest rates.