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GEPT and Dapo Abiodun: Guilty or Not Guilty? by S. F. Lubega

GEPT and Dapo Abiodun: Guilty or Not Guilty by S. F. Lubega

Since the submission of final written addresses by all parties in the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abeokuta on September 4, 2023, political aides of the Governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, have been celebrating that they have the process all wrapped up and rejoicing in expectations of a favorable verdict. Not only that, the Governor himself has entered into a different mode, welcoming all political adversaries with arrests and demolition of properties. He then capped it up with the appointments of political aides, especially in the Information management department. He also released an additional list of Commissioners for the State House of Assembly’s approval.

For those watching the politics of the state, this is sounding a new note of what to expect in the next four years if he ever scales the hurdles of the election challenge. It was also designed as a booster or an elixir for otherwise traumatized followers and sent the signal out there that he is in control, in charge, and in power.

Upon what moral ground is Mr. Abiodun establishing his hope of victory? We shall look at this shortly. The Governor is not disputing the plethora of evidence (over 200,000 of them) tendered by the PDP candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, rather, he is trying to sit pretty on an underhand deal to procure a technical knockout using a Scottish model in legal jurisprudence of “Not Proven”. This will, however, be a rape on the Nigerian justice system and its local jurisprudence, which derives substantially from the English Common Law.

In most parts of the world, the scale of Justice which has been adopted by the judicial system rests on two scales of balance: Guilty or Not Guilty. Except in Scotland, which has a third balance to the scale “Not Proven”. This is the standard of scale upon which Dapo Abiodun hopes to smuggle in order to appropriate the hopes and the genuine wishes of millions of Ogun State people to decide who should govern them. But I also need to add, that in the same Scotland, this standard was largely applied in Criminal cases with a slight bent when deciding on civil cases. It therefore brings us to matters bordering on election petitions whether they are criminal or civil offences.

Should the scale of Justice be tipped or modified against overwhelming evidence that is not controverted nor challenged be discounted for technical issues like who presents what or processes? Would Justice have been served for people whose mandate were brazenly stolen or modified to favour an incumbent governor who was largely rejected by the people for neglecting them for four years. Will justice be served by protecting a People’s oppressor and foist him over the same people who have rejected him at the polls. My take, Justice is about standing with the interests and wishes of the people, and this will then answer to the “Common Good”. Else, there would not be a deterrent for armed robbers who kills and later comes to rely on such a Justice system that rests on a plank of “Not Proven”.

Our Justices are human beings, they live among the people, they share their pains and tribulations, they can gauge their feelings, they move about in the towns, they could see the decays which made the people to reject Dapo Abiodun at the elections. They cannot reward such a level of decay and misgovernance with technicalities against overwhelming evidence. When judgments are delivered, every judge wants to go home with the feeling of righteousness about giving Justice to the weak. The people rejected Dapo Abiodun, the court must help them to amplify their weak, hoarse and tired voices. They are gradually losing the will to fight, they have been beaten and battered and they are losing breath day by day.

S. F. Lubega is a Communication Management Consultant and a Public Affairs Analyst.

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