Although, many Nigerians no longer believe the country can ever change for the better, the landmark judgment by a High Court in Akwa Ibom, which handed a three-year jail term to Prof Peter Ogban, for electoral fraud offers a renewed hope for a better Nigeria.
Ogban was found guilty of fraudulent manipulation of election results, publishing and announcing of false results. He was also asked to pay N100,000.00 fine.
The electoral process in Nigeria is no doubt fraught with impunity, brazen disregard for the rule of law and bare faced manipulation of the will of the people. Added to that is the resignation of the people to the fact that even the temple of justice has become willing accomplice in the strangulation of the electoral process.
Until this landmark judgment, one can hardly recall the prosecution of any electoral offender in Nigeria’s recent history.
This bold judgment from Akwa Ibom State is not only worth commending, it is also worth celebrating as a a positive development in Nigeria’s fledgling democracy. With this Prof going to do his time behind bars, manipulators of electoral processes may begin to think twice before accepting to do the unlawful bidding of their paymasters.
It is significant to remark Justice Odokwo of the Akwa Ibom State Judiciary has set a worthy precedent that has been difficult even for the Supreme Court of Nigeria to set.
Therefore, let it reverberate in the South East, South West, North East, North West and even in the North Central that though electoral fraud offenders may have their way in the field, they are sure to have their day in the court.
Indeed, the judiciary in Nigeria is alive and ready to live to its billing as the last hope of the electorate (common man).
From the rest of us in Nigeria, we say thank you to that audacious Akwa Ibom High Court Judge who has given us something to cheer about.
Nathaniel Pam, a public affairs analyst lives in Abuja