Judicial authorities are now under pressure to wield judicial big sticks in many cases of wrongful substitution of candidates littering various courts in the land.
The pressure is growing more as it is almost a year now that most aspirants who won their primaries were wrongfully substituted by their political parties for others who did not participate at the primaries.
Reports from various states of the federation revealed that cases involving political parties dropping legitimate winners of primaries for non- contenders are now languishing before more than ten courts awaiting hearing or judgements.
Insiders within the judiciary hinted that activities of courts and judges handling the various wrongful substitution cases have reached the National Judicial Council under the Chief Justice of the Federation.
Aspirants and candidates involved in such court cases include Taraba North among Sani Abubakar,Garba Umar and Shuaibu Isa,;Kano state among Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso,Abba Kabir and Suleiman Habib;Jigawa between Sabotage Mohammed Nakudu and Suleiman Musa;Sokoto between Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Senator Umar Dahiru;the unfolding Anambra North among Chris Ngige, Uche Ekwunife and …. among many such cases in the country.
The plaintiff in most of the above cases are seeking the reversal of their wrongful substitution which they claimed violate the law and constitute a threat to democracy if not reversed.
Checks however showed that most of the cases have suffered what was considered as unnecessary delay and alleged deliberate ploy to scuttle the wheel of justice.
In many of the cases , only in about two instances had the judiicial authorities summoned the courage to enforce the provision of the electoral act which prohibited wrongful substitution of candidates elected at party primaries.
Justice Ademola of Abuja Federal High Court had last year sacked Emeka Godwin from the Federal house and ordered that he be replaced with Hon Lynda Ikpeszu who was the legitimate winner of the primaries.
The court held that Ikpeazu’s was wrongfully substituted contrary to the clear provisions of the electoral act. The judge ordered the House of Representatives to conduct the swearing in of Ikpeazu as elected member of the house.
With almost a year to the last election,most other courts handling the cases are perceived to be reluctant to fast track the matter to correct injustice done to many original winners of party primaries.
Some senior judges had openly expressed disapproval for wrongful substitution of candidates either before or after the election. Justice Samuel Nkan Onnoghen had once ruled as follows :
“We need to strengthen the confidence of our people in our democratic process which must begin from within the political parties themselves and at the grassroot government. We must learn to always do the right thing no matter what, else we will fail in the process”
Another senior judge ,Olufunlola Adekeye also noted categorically that; “There is no provision in any electoral laws for the substitution of candidates after an election .It is sheer political recklessness for a party to change its candidate after an election or to deprive a winning candidate of the Certificate of Return. Such an act in my view shows lack of understanding of the democratic system”