The rule of law is not a requirement of the law. It cannot be. If it were it is thus self-referential. And nothing self-referential has logic on any of its sides. And as lawyers say, you can’t stand something on nothing. Self-reference is nothingness in logic.
Additionally, truth never stood on self-reference or even self-reverence, even if divine. Truth must be collaborated by facts or existences, outside itself. Not understanding this is the problem of the religions and their scriptures, even if they refuse to admit to it. Religions are too self-reverential to be worth a puff in logic. Fortuitously, however, there is faith and there is belief and there is delusion. So, religions prosper on those. Anyway, this is by the way.
The rule of law is a requirement of society. Or more properly, the philosophers who constructed and are constructors of such societies. Before we go further, it is important to restate that it is axial philosophers, herein referred to as Buddha, who are the architects of functional and sustainable societies. It is Buddha, not Caesar. The fact of this is important. This is because the bane of Nigerian development is in our not coming to knowledge of this fact.
Now, it is these constructors of [Western and lately Asian] society, who indicate that in the event disagreements over commonly contested issues, citizens should not self-adjudicate. They must go to a specialized body of citizens – judges – for resolution of their doubts, one way or the other. So the rite of going to court is barely judicial. It is actually societal or if you liked civilizational. Thus it is an act of incivility, perhaps anarchism, to want to foreclose on citizens availing themselves of sustainable societies’ processes. That which is legal is of society. Legality is not self-existent.
The point is that Alhaji Abubarka Atiku, rightly or deluded, feels he has been grievously robbed of his legitimate victory at the polls. It thus can be said that Atiku has the following options. First, he could go on the streets and prompt the monkeys and baboons to soak in human blood. Two, he could trigger a coup to recoup his allegedly stolen presidential mandate. Third, he could go to court and submit himself to the superior opinions of the wise men and women who preside there. Interestingly and this is important, Atiku by going to court has submitted himself to the rule of law, whatever the outcome. And the rule of law presumes that neither of the litigants, here an Atiku or a President Muhammadu Buhari, may be sure his prayers will be granted. In fact, Buhari might as well floor Atiku judicially and retain his presidential Eagle. In other words, by going to court, Atiku agrees to two precepts.
1. That by going to court he abjures the ‘’rites’’ of coups and street mayhems. That is he chooses civilization above self-help or the rule of the mob. We should salute him for this.
2. But by going to court Atiku agrees to and accepts his ‘’judicial flooring’’ if and when it is pronounced, up to his appellate fullness, etc. Atiku derivatively, also counts that on his triumph, it’s the duty of society to return his stolen presidency to him.
Perhaps it is important to state here that the court and judicial processes are creations, allies and instruments of the larger society, not the litigant parties. That is the courts are not there to favor one litigant against the other. They are there to prosper and advance society, not even the law, save tangentially. That is to say, that all the alleged contentions about heating up or freezing down the polity are known to the judges and the law. And they make their decisions in the light of all they know, including what the parties in issue lay before them. Thus, the very idea of the courts is to douse not inflame, prosper not disrupt, society.
How then, can persons advise Atiku should not go court, if as it is, he is aggrieved? See: https://punchng.com/dont-go-to-election-tribunal-agbakoba-urges-atiku/ and https://punchng.com/alleged-election-rigging-we-have-assembled-more-than-18-lawyers-secondus/. Should Atiku now do a coup? That is one.
The other, is that society itself is built on and run by institutions and systems. And of the systems, especially in the Western civilizational order, elections or competitive politics and the rule of law, are major examples.
Now, every Nigerian supports the building and strengthening of systems and institutions. And this includes a certain NBA president those who advises Atiku against going to court, alas. The larger point however is that systems and institutions are and don’t exist academically or in seminar pronouncements. That is to say, systems and institutions exist in reality, that is under quotidian stresses, or ‘’street’’ conditions. Thus institutions and systems cannot be developed or strengthened without testing them, without operationalizing them, in reality.
Please forgive us our military background – we are Colonels retired, Biafra Army. And it so happened that the latest evolution of the fearsome German tank, the Leopard, was touted as the best battle tank of all times. Suddenly came the Gulf war and the Leopards performed below par at the Arabian deserts. So it had to be recalled and redesigned, etc. Tanks by the way are systems and institutions in the war machine, German, Biafran or anywhere else.