In a recent interview, Daniel Bwala, spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, explored the role of the Supreme Court and the implications of its judgments on Nigeria's political landscape. Bwala, a constitutional lawyer, shared his insights on the Supreme Court's role in the contentious Plateau State election and the future of election petitions.
The Supreme Court's Role
Contrary to popular belief, Bwala clarified that the Supreme Court's infallibility stems from its finality not from being error-free. While individual opinions on court rulings may vary, once a judgment is final, it is beyond dispute. However, he emphasized that this does not make the Supreme Court void of mistakes.
Implications of Recent Judgments
Bwala expressed concern over a recent Supreme Court judgment on the Plateau State election. The Court of Appeal's decision to remove Governor Caleb Mutfwang from office, he explained, has posed a question about the Supreme Court's authority over pre-election matters. The Supreme Court now faces the challenge of deciding whether the Court of Appeal has the right to overturn settled law.
Electoral Act and INEC's Actions
Bwala expressed apprehension over the implications of the Independent National Electoral Commission's (INEC) actions on public confidence in elections. According to him, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of card readers is not obligatory, which could imply that INEC has the discretion to decide whether to comply with voter authentication technology like BVAS and IREV. Bwala fears that this could lead to a future where INEC's decisions get unquestioned validation from the courts, deviating from the norm.
Despite these concerns, Bwala remains hopeful. He envisions a time when laws will be clear enough to prevent any court deviations. However, the path to such a future, he acknowledges, depends on a robust opposition in Nigeria, capable of holding the government and the courts accountable.