For the long-suffering people of Osun State, Monday March 30 would remain indelible in their march to retrieve their dignity from electoral bandits. In yet another of the judiciary’s finest moments, the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan extirpated the farcical ruling delivered by Justice Thomas Naron and his team in which they had dismissed the petition of the Action Congress candidate, Rauf Aregbesola.
It was vintage example of justice delayed not necessarily being justice denied. Justice Victor Omage, leading four other justices, rubbished the Naron trial that would go on record as one of the most bizarre in the history of election petitions.
Monday proceedings, in some ways, came across like a sombre assembly put together to censure a bunch of the judiciary’s delinquents. It was the hour for the men whose conducts have done much to lower the esteem of the institution in the eyes of the public. In the end, the expectant public was left in no doubt about who was on trial.
With words such as “miscarriage of justice”, “perverse”, the appellate court dismantled the inelegantly contrived fraud-tainted judgment rendered by Justice Naron. That judgment had reversed all known rules of evidence and logic to arrive at one of the most perverse conclusions to be visited on a litigant.
Are the people of Osun vindicated? The resounding answer of course is yes. Clearly, no amount of darkness can hold out to a spark of light. As sure as light is to day, all it takes for a castle of fraud to be demolished is for truth to be stacked against the pile. That was one big lesson to take away from the well-reasoned Court of Appeal judgment.
What resonates about the judgment is its simplicity. Apart from being adorned with the halo of magistracy, the sheer moral force with which it was rendered was unmistakeable. It was a case of the proverbial Daniel come to judgment.
Of course, it was also as simple as could be. The summary of course is this: there cannot be justice without the parties being allowed to assemble and present evidence. And clearly, there cannot be justice when the tribunal would align with one of the parties in a case to render the trial process a non-event.
Why should the proud Osun people not rejoice? Why should they not shout for joy now that the judiciary has finally exhumed the half-buried corpse of the PDP for the world to see?
As a news medium, we almost shouted ourselves hoarse when, Justice Naron and company played god by ignoring vital evidence.
We shouted loud and clear when the tribunal established to unearth the truth decided that every piece of evidence that could help it arrive at the ends of justice would be thrown out irrespective of their merit. When, in the fouled atmosphere in which justice was openly traded for a pot of porridge, we made our voice heard.
We condemned the odious fraternity between counsel to Oyinlola and the tribunal members, particularly Justice Naron, revealed in the call logs of the telecommunications firm – MTN. Then, we had argued that the proper thing for Naron and company was for them to recuse themselves. But like the hunter’s dog sworn to be lost in the woods, it would soon emerge that the lure of the tempter was too strong to resist.
Today, the people are having their last laugh. It may not be time to rejoice fully yet, but the horizons are bright enough for anyone to see how the day will end. The road may be long and tortuous, we are reassured that justice for the good people is around the corner.
The ball is now in the court of the Appeal Court President. We implore him to constitute another panel without delay. For the people, our counsel is patience. The path to justice may seem long and windy, so also would the victory be sweet and enduring. The current gale has since confirmed the truth in the saying that a house built on fraud would never endure.
For the electoral bandits, their day of retribution is here already.