“I am one of those who have lost hope. So, please don’t speak about some. That is one of the reasons I no longer can claim to be a lawyer.”
As opposition parties announced plans to contest Saturday’s presidential election results in court, rights activist Chidi Odinkalu says he does not expect justice to be dispensed by the judiciary, likening judges’ conduct to that of juju priests and courts to voodoo shrines.
There are allegations of widespread fraud and violence during the presidential poll, with some international observers saying the election was “distorted.”
“I am one of those who have lost hope. So, please don’t speak about some. That is one of the reasons I no longer can claim to be a lawyer,” said Mr Odinkalu in an interview published by THISDAY.
The former National Human Rights Commission boss added, “The kinds of things that come out of our courts these days can only be manufactured by juju priests and voodoo shrines. I did not train for either and lack the qualifications to practice any of those.”
Mr Odinkalu added, “This is not just about technicality; it is also about bare-faced abuse of judicial office. Going to court these days cannot be fulfilling or meaningful for those who do it at any level, from the area courts, magistrates’ court or district courts to the Supreme Court.”
He alleged that “most of the people appointed to the Bench these days are related to powerful judges or powerful politicians – the son of this, the daughter of that, the wife of the other one, or the mistress of that one. It is no longer about competence, character, skill or qualification.”
Mr Odinkalu censured INEC for its role in the contentious presidential poll, leading to PDP and the Labour Party calling for the election’s cancellation.
He faulted INEC for its inadequate preparations in the build-up to the poll and failure to extensively test-run the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, which recorded widespread malfunctions in many parts of the country during the election.
“Anyone who took minimal interest in the matter would have figured that INEC’s assurances of a seamless process or flawless BVAS deployment were both empty and not believable. I wrote about this more than once, but I guess, as Nigerians, we are wired to miracles and magic,” the ex-NHRC chief stated.
Mr Odinkalu mentioned that “BVAS was untried on anything approaching the scale of the claim INEC made on it” regarding the Saturday polls.
“Prior to this, it had only been tried in three off-cycle governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun, as well as in the FCT local elections. In all of those, the flaws were very evident,” said the rights activist.
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