A Senior Advocate of Nigerian (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, has predicted protest votes in the February 25 elections, in response to the Supreme Court ruling affirming Senator Ahmad Lawan as the authentic All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Yobe North.
The apex court gave the ruling on Monday after a protracted legal battle emanating from Bashir Machina’s emergence.
The Senate President had dropped out of the Yobe North senatorial race on May 12, opting to vie for the APC presidential ticket instead.
However, Ozekhome predicted that the fallout of the apex court’s ruling would be protest votes at the polls.
“I can see what you call ‘protest votes’ in that senatorial zone,” he said during a live appearance on Channels Television’s The 2023 Verdict, a special election programme on Wednesday.
“With all respect, the Supreme Court is not just a court of law; it is also a court of policy and that is why I’m always defending the judiciary and the Supreme Court. When we violate it, or when we allow it to be violated, there will be trouble.”
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According to him, the Supreme Court has repeatedly warned that the era of what he described as technicalities over justice is gone forever.
“If you look at the case of Bello v. Attorney General of Oyo State decided in 1986 by the Supreme Court, you will see the beautiful dictum of great jurists like Oputa, like Kayode Eso,” he said.
“It says, ‘And when the apparition of technicality comes out of their graves clanking their manacled legs, you should put them back in the graves where they belong and do substantial justice.’”
The senior lawyer noted that the bone of contention is a “serious matter” pertaining to the choice of the people’s representative, arguing that the people had chosen their own representative.
“Then you are elevating the issue of form, procedure, of how a case was filed to say a person who did not participate in primaries, who was never voted for by the people will now go and represent the people against a person who was popularly voted for?” Ozekhome asked.