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Nigerian Independence Day Salute from a Constitutionalist

By Emmanuel Ogebe

I welcome the recently delivered judgment of the US District Court ordering the release of Tinubu’s records by today Oct. 2, 2023.

This is how things work in really independent countries such as the United States. Courts are not coercive instruments of the politically connected or the powerful. If a nation’s courts could indict their immediate past president on 91 counts – as the US federal and state courts have done – and jail three successive governors of Illinois then you know they’re serious.

The fact that Tinubu has escaped justice in Nigeria since 1999 (24 years) on his serial falsehoods and forgeries is a damning indictment on the chronic dysfunction and failure of the Nigerian legal system. How ironic the Chicago judge’s ruling was issued on our “faux” Independence Day.

The truth is that a politician, comparable to a “mafioso” who kidnapped Lagos state and its 20 million inhabitants by winning the gubernatorial election of January 1999, has managed to use fraud to kidnap the nation of Nigeria and it’s 228 million citizens through a controversial election in February 2023. Nigeria is anything but independent. The brazen things people are getting away with in Nigeria today are astonishing. Once again, a foreign court is coming to Nigeria’s rescue – ironically the same U.S. federal court whose judgment against Tinubu regarding a drug-laundering asset forfeiture 30 years ago – gave us an early warning on the nature of his character. This time around, we shall see if our legal system will yet again fail our democracy, constitution, citizenry and posterity. When our systems get it right, we will not be subjected to the global embarrassment that Nigeria currently endures.

It should be noted that 75 percent of Tinubu’s academic claims have been shown to be bogus by Tinubu himself in two contradictory Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] forms. Chicago State University is the last one. A reasonable person would happily allow the records release to prove he is not a total fraud but apparently that’s too much to expect.

Similarly, the court gave a Monday, October 2 2023 deadline,warning that any request for stay of this judgement from Tinubu will be denied. This deadline shows how abuse of court process will not be tolerated. Note that this is a US Federal District Court, the equivalent of Nigeria’s Federal High Court, saying it will NOT stay its own judgment for Tinubu’s sake. Nigerian courts should begin to desist from allowing losing parties to stop their own judgments and let appellate courts decide on stays.

Finally, this is an “independence” day consolation gift to Nigerians who yearn for good governance outside the clutches of corrupt and criminal elements.

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Emmanuel Ogebe, Esq, is a prominent US-based international human rights lawyer and Nigerian pro-democracy advocate with the US Nigeria Law Group in Washington.

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