From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, has called for an amendment to the Electoral Act that would shift the burden of proof from a petitioner to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Oba Maduabuchi, SAN, had made similar call while in a special with Daily Sun.
The jurist who retired from the bench of the apex court on Monday threw a salvo at state Governors as he accused them of truncating local government administration in their states.
His position is same with the one earlier expressed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Oba Maduabuchi in his interview with Saturday Sun.
Speaking at a valedictory court session to mark his retirement, Justice Vivour who clocked the mandatory retirement age of 70 years, lamented that Nigeria was a deeply corrupt country.
He spoke on issues bordering on corruption, insecurity, inheritance and precedence in law, amongst others.
Citing a judgment he delivered in an election matter, Rhodes-Vivour said: ‘A careful reading and understanding of decided authorities show that a petitioner has an uphill task proving his petition in accordance with the Electoral Act.’
While noting that a petitioner is ‘always saddled with difficult requirements and procedures’ to prove electoral malpractices in an election, he suggested that the ‘Electoral Act should be amended to shift the burden of proof to INEC to prove that it conducted a fair and reasonable election.’
He also faulted the conduct of elections in the country, lamenting they are protracted because the stakes are too high.
Speaking on the perennial issue of local government autonomy, Rhodes-Vivour noted that governors act on their ‘whims and fancies unknown to our laws, clearly illegal,’ when they dissolve elected local government councils and replace them with caretaker committees.
According to him, it is the duty of governors to ensure that the system of local government continues unhindered.
‘It amounts to executive recklessness for the governor to remove from office democratically elected chairmen and councillors under whatever guise. It is illegal and wrong,’ he said.
Meanwhile, he decried the high level of corruption in the country and called for concerted efforts in bringing it to the barest minimum.
‘Corruption exists in all the countries of the world. Nigeria is no exception. What should be done is to reduce it drastically thereby making our dear country an exception by building credible and transparent systems,’ Justice Rhodes-Vivour stated.
In his speech at the ceremony, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad described Rhodes-Vivour as “Affable brother Justice” who diligently and meticulously offered unquantifiable services to Nigeria and humanity.
‘We are all here today to felicitate with an accomplished jurisprudential iconoclast that has offered the best of his intellect to the advancement of the legal profession through his several years of inimitable adjudications,’ the CJN stated.
According to the CJN, ‘His Lordship is a rare gem and unblemished symbol of humility and piety.
‘His proficiency in the dispensation of justice, which is anchored on his mastery of law, presents him as a man of honour and scholarship.
‘His judgments are not only incisive but also analytical and opulent by all standards.
‘His robust contributions to the development of our jurisprudence are inviolable and fascinating.
‘His impeccable attention to details in every matter before him is alluring and salutary as well,’ the CJN said.