All Eyes On Common Sense

By: Echoda Daniel 

Our reactions to the recent ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) are rather a denial of reality. It appears we have forgotten that, in rendering judgments in the courts of law, the judges sitting over a given case do so impartially and base their decisions solely on the facts before them, not emotions or public opinion.

Judges do not just say anything they like about a case, unless it is in accordance with established legal principles, within the confines of the applicable rules and the facts presented before them. In simple terms, what we witnessed on Wednesday, 6th of September is simply judges doing their duties according to the laid-down rules.

These rules guide their decisions, making it almost impossible for them to make judgments arbitrarily – at least, not as easily as we think.

Let us face it, per INEC, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu won the 2023  election, and as far as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) is concerned, justice is that he is not disqualified on any of the grounds the other candidates have brought before the court.

We must look beyond our biases and accept that what is just in a given situation will not be always be in line with everyone’s interest. And even if the Supreme Court reviews the case, as a result of an appeal, and possibly rule differently, there is no sense in uninformed criticism and unguarded opinion on an issue of such magnitude.

Judicial fallibility is also an aspect of the legal process, as judges, being humans themselves, can also make errors and may, on some occasions, show instances of injustice in their judgments. Yet, our criticism of their ruling must come from a place of knowledge.

It is unreasonable that the same set of people who had a hard time understanding the numerous legalese, terminologies, and languages of the court during the ruling are now saying there was injustice in the ruling – whose written copy is about 800 pages. There is simply no sense in criticizing what we do not understand!

Regardless of how we feel, we must never forget that it was never about our feelings, but the facts presented to the court. We are not helping the situation if, in reaction, we resort to social media or any other means to incite violence or use words that suggest that it is okay if the military takes over our government. We have enough problems as a country already; adding what might spark a chain of events leading to a civil war to the long list simply does not make sense.

Our eyes were on the judiciary, and the judges, in their discretion, have done the “right thing” as we asked. It is okay to not be satisfied with their decision; that is why the parties can appeal. That is how to go about the issue as good citizens of a civilized society like Nigeria. We should therefore not seek justice at the expense of what is right. Let us maintain peace and sanity by keeping our eyes on common sense!

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