By Okey Ndibe
I’ve typically argued that Nigeria’s political area is designed for the criminally minded. That legal compulsion is commonly evident in elections, the place candidates deploy ill-gotten money, recruit closely armed thugs, and use different types of illicit manipulation to steal votes.
It’s dangerous sufficient when rogue politicians cheat generally elections. Curiously, too many politicians deliver their fraudulent manoeuvres to primaries, a contest between aspirants from the identical social gathering who search to characterize their social gathering in a broader election. One of the scandals of politics in Nigeria is that political events cost exorbitant charges for nomination kinds for each elective workplace, from native authorities councilor to the presidency. Yet, after gathering these charges, social gathering officers typically stage a rip-off as a substitute of a reputable major. Quite merely, they impose one of many candidates—typically the least fashionable or viable, however one backed by a strong political godfather or godmother. The cheated aspirants are hardly reimbursed the steep charge they paid for an opportunity to jostle for a ticket. Often, the disinherited candidates skulk away to a nook to sulk quietly. If they complain loudly or, worse, head to courtroom to hunt justice, they’re accused of disloyalty and charged with anti-party actions. Dreading the backlash that comes with such stigma, many a Nigerian political aspirant, when defrauded by their political social gathering, stays mum.
Thank goodness that, once in a while, we encounter a political determine who refuses to quietly abdomen injustice—one so averse to political scams as to mount a welcome problem to the wicked protocols of Nigerian politics.
One such principled dissenter is Chike Maduekwe, a high-quality lawyer and constitutional skilled. I’ve additionally identified Mr. Maduekwe properly sufficient—for greater than three many years—to evaluate him a deeply principled man.
In 2015, Mr. Maduekwe sought the senatorial ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) within the Anambra Central senatorial zone. An enterprising lawyer, he scraped collectively the N4.5 million the PDP charged every senatorial aspirant who wished to participate within the race to be the social gathering’s flag bearer.
He had anticipated the social gathering to dwell as much as its obligation to conduct a reputable major. In retrospect, his expectation was wishful pondering. Some of the social gathering’s highly effective members, in Abuja and Anambra, had handpicked Mrs. Uche Ekwunife because the social gathering’s candidate. And these highly effective parts have been in no temper to topic their favored candidate to a vote of any sort. When the day of the first arrived, some social gathering officers congregated with Mrs. Ekwunife at a location unknown to the opposite candidates—and easily introduced that she had gained a major that by no means held.
The PDP’s absurd declaration of Mrs. Ekwunife because the winner of a non-existent major triggered a collection of ludicrous aftershocks. Once they bought a whiff of their social gathering’s treachery, many of the different senatorial candidates retired to separate resort rooms in Awka, capital of Anambra State, and issued press statements asserting that they, too, had gained “primaries” that held solely of their crooked creativeness. The lone exception was Chike Maduekwe. Despite intense stress from his supporters and marketing campaign workers, he refused to be contaminated by the insanity that had swept up his opponents. He was unwavering in arguing that the PDP had didn’t preserve its phrase, that the social gathering had betrayed its promise to carry an actual major.
Mr. Maduekwe’s reasoned and admirable stance—his insistence on retaining ethical funds and sustaining his poise when others round him have been dancing to their illogic—earned him the ethical and authorized standing to method a courtroom for justice.
In a lawsuit he filed towards the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Mrs. Ekwunife, Mr. Maduekwe made the unassailable case that the social gathering, having orchestrated a sham as a substitute of a major, ought to refund the N4.5 million he paid in expectation of taking part in a real electoral course of.
On December 5, 2017, Justice O.O. Goodluck of the Abuja High Court gave a convincing judgment that upheld Mr. Maduekwe’s submission. The PDP, the choose dominated, “is not entitled to retain the N4.5 million naira paid by the plaintiff.” She discovered that the PDP had “refused, failed and or neglected to conduct the primary election to elect its flag bearer for Anambra Central Senatorial District.” The choose then ordered the PDP to “refund to the plaintiff the EOI and NM Form fees paid in the sum of N4.5 million…being monies had and received by the 1st defendant for a failed consideration.”
The judgment validated Mr. Maduekwe’s moral posture, particularly his repudiation of the anything-goes mindset that plagues and disfigures Nigerian politics. But the decision means greater than a private triumph. On a deeper degree, the judgment represents a cautionary second for Nigerian politicians, particularly these crooked officers who run political events.
It’s no secret that the majority, if not all, of Nigeria’s main political events are responsible of rigging primaries, imposing candidates, and defrauding many aspirants who take out nomination kinds which can be typically carry steep worth tags. The legal manipulation of primaries had grow to be one of many ways in which unscrupulous social gathering officers amassed illicit lucre.
In acquiring a judgment towards the PDP, Mr. Maduekwe has grow to be one thing of a pioneer. Thanks to his victory, going ahead, the PDP and different political events know that they will not afford to stage shameful hanky-panky within the title of primaries. Any political social gathering that disregards the clear implications of the authorized precedent established by Justice Goodluck’s judgment faces the danger, fairly merely, of being slammed with a lawsuit.
One is delighted that Mrs. Ekwunife, the key beneficiary of the political jiggery-pokery that provoked Mr. Maduekwe’s lawsuit, has paid for her position within the impunity. More than a 12 months earlier, an appellate courtroom dominated that she had not emerged as a candidate in a reliable major—and ordered her to vacate her ill-gotten senatorial seat. On the heels of Mr. Maduekwe’s more moderen judicial victory, INEC is ready to conduct an election in a couple of days to find out who will characterize Anambra Central within the Senate. That Mrs. Ekwunife can’t be a candidate in that election is kind of becoming. Her exclusion proves what Americans imply once they say, “crime don’t pay.”
On his half, Mr. Maduekwe deserves celebration for conserving his head when most individuals round him have been shedding theirs. An individual of his moral disposition and ethical backbone reveals that it pays to do the fitting factor.
Okey Ndibe is an writer, most lately of a memoir, Never Look an American within the Eye