Courts must stop interference — Shonibare

Acting national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Supo Shonibare provides an insight into the trend has been affecting the political system in the country

“Our courts must refrain from interfering with the processes; whoever defective, of those who have campaigned and been presented to the electorate and duly voted for. It negates the principles of democracy to then embark on some voyage of some prior non-compliance with some parties or electoral provisions in the processes leading to the election, after the people have made a choice based on their presumed assessment and judgment of the individuals presented before them. This presumption that the votes are cast for party and not the individual is also a warped conceptual jurisprudence approach in the interpretation of constitutional provisions. The party, no doubt, enables the emergence
of a candidate. But, they are also presumed to have chosen the best individual they too deem and have adjudged will be most acceptable candidate to the people across party lines. It’s the electorate who then determine who should govern them. Courts should decline having jurisdiction if the complaint is not premised on votes cast. Party members in any constituency hardly constitute more than 10 per cent of the electorate.

One approach is for courts to expedite action in determining all pre-election matters many days before the election itself – say at least 30 days. This will provide enough time frame for settled candidates to be presented to the electorate. The specter of a few individuals in the judiciary; from the tribunal to the appellate courts, overturning the choice of the people under the guise of non-compliance with some processes using technical assessment to vitiate votes already cast by the people is an anomaly and must abate. The legislature needs to
look at ways of enacting a law prohibiting this approach of the judiciary to exercise the functions of “judicial enthronement” of political office holders. The judiciary should confine itself in adjudicating prior to an election being held and its issues of lawful or rigged votes that it should make pronouncements on, and not setting aside lawful votes on technicalities not connected to the actual conduct of the election itself on election day. This phenomenon has only reared its head with our present crop of judicial officers in this republic. Our courts in the past would always decline jurisdiction to interfere in such a manner. How times have changed!”

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