Sagay’s positions on political judgments

 

Itse Sagay

Itse Sagay

Sir I am not a lawyer but came across the name of Prof. Itse Sagay for the first time some 15 years ago among the many legal resources and books of my sister, then a law student. His several public opinions before now have further attested to his erudite scholarship especially in the sphere of constitutional law. This would make it the very reason the present government recruited his services in the fight against corruption. However, one is taken with utmost amazement on his new positions on constitutional issues especially ones involving the federal government.

 

Some comments attributed to the legal luminary and academic icon are as disturbing as they are mind-boggling considering his reputation as arguably one of the nation’s foremost constitutional lawyers. Most bewildering in the series is his response to recent Supreme Court judgments where he singled out Rivers and Akwa Ibom states and tongue-lashed the honorable justices of the Supreme Court over their decision to uphold the gubernatorial elections in these states.

If everybody knows elections never took place in these states, then the blame lies on the legal team for the petitioners, who must have done very terrible work by failing to prove what everybody knows. When a lawyer of the class of Prof Sagay dances to “popular APC opinion” as against “legal proof” it is most disturbing and I dare say, an attempt by his person to relitigate what has been settled by the peak temple of justice in the land. His accusation against Governor Wike are unsubstantiated and baseless and a lawyer of his calibre need no reminding about the implications of unsubstantiated accusations.

Moreover, “everybody knows” that the judgment of the election tribunal and appellate court which were stage-managed to take advantage of card-readers would never have withstood any genuine legal challenge, with pre-existing Supreme Court decisions. The apex court only did the obvious and needful by overturning a travesty of justice.

It is worthy of mention that the Supreme Court has upheld elections on same grounds in Lagos State among others, at which time Prof. Sagay maintained graveyard silence. Hence, these political realities of his never sufficed. It is also pertinent to note that on the same day that Rivers State elections was upheld by the apex court, it also upheld that of Ogun state on similar grounds. However, ‘le profeseur’ kept mum over this.

The assertion was that this crop of Supreme Court justices could not compare to the kind of justices the court had some two decades back. My question is if those crop of judges were so perfect, how come they could not withstand the institutional corruption, constitutional abuses and several other illegal decrees and excesses that characterized that military era? One would not imagine his silence over court disobediences and abuses amidst a lopsided anti corruption campaign by the federal government.

Finally, it is most unfortunate that the best minds the nation could boast about always disappoint when demands are made on them after they join politics. If any one would have accused the Supreme Court over its decision, it definitely would not have been Prof Sagay. There are a lot of disturbing undertones to this opinion of his and it is high time he told us the truth.

• Inania Kelvin,
Port Harcourt.



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