Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has urged aggrieved parties of the February 25 general elections to respect the sanctity of the court and humbly accept its decision in the coming days as final.
Gowon made the call on Thursday in Abuja at the 15th edition of the PUNUKA Annual Lecture 2023 and symposium in honour of the late Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Chike Idigbe.
The ex-military Head of State who emphasized the need for a strong, independent and impartial judiciary admonished aggrieved politicians and the public to abide by the decisions of the court.
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He said, “As we move forward as a nation, let us not forget the role that the Judiciary plays in nation-building, especially the apex court, in carrying out its duty of questioning the veracity of the decisions of the lower court.
“As such, we need to allow the apex court their deliberations and come up with their decisions, and as the public, to be humble to accept their decision as final in order to maintain the sanctity of the judiciary as individuals and as an institution.
“This is very important at this stage given the post-election litigation that is now going on.
“Let us give the judiciary the opportunity to do their work and let us accept their decision as it is.”
Acknowledging the challenge of the country since independence, he affirmed that “the judiciary plays a vital role in nation building and in keeping us united as a nation”.
“The judiciary, in essence, is the guardian of the constitution and the rule of law… As a former head of state, I have seen and known firsthand the importance of the judiciary in maintaining stability and order in our society,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Gen Gowon poured encomium on the late jurist and attested to his unwavering dedication to service and bravery in the dispensation of justice.
“From what I have learnt of Justice Idigbe, his contributions to the judiciary and nation-building cannot be overemphasized. His unwavering commitment to upholding justice and the rule of law is a testament to his unflinching character and his belief in our nation evinced through his life and office.”
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion and extolled the legacy of the late legal luminary were Babatunde Fashola, Minister for Works and Housing; Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Chief Justice, Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice among many others.
Also speaking, Anthony Idigbe, Senior Partner, Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors acknowledged that “Justice Idigbe’s jurisprudence is still very relevant today. He had a focus on substantive justice and he established in many cases that form should never override substance. Those principles should guide the action of our judges today.
“Some argue that there is no more adherence to judicial precedent, that it is dangerous for the system because that is what makes law science and the Judicial system strong.
“Knowing when to depart from precedent becomes quite significant to prevent abuse, and there is a lot of guidance from some of Justice Idigbe’s cases.”
He also called for holistic judicial reforms, adding that the same attention given to election petitions should be extended to commercial cases, as they are all critical to the nation’s survival.