By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
The entire nation was on October 3, 2017, stunned with the Court of Appeal, Abuja decision granting an application filed by Oliseh Metuh to compel the ex-President to testify in the N400 million fraud charge brought against the applicant.
The N400 million was alleged to have been disbursed from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA).
Following the above decision of the appellate court, Justice Okon Abang, the presiding judge at the Federal High Court in Abuja, had on Tuesday insisted that Jonathan must appear before the court as a witness in the case after Metuh had made the request.
He said the ex-President was mandated by the decision of the appellate court to appear before him to testify in the criminal suit.
The above development we as a media group view as welcoming and a pragmatic demonstration of a new order in the anal of our existence as a nation.
This decision also has for the first time very validly demonstrated that none is above the law as enshrined in our nation’s constitution.
This is more especially when one is not enjoying any form of immunity.
We also commend the decision of Justice Okon Abang for insisting on adhering to the decision of the appellate court without bending the rule to suit any particular individual or group.
But GbaramatuVoice as a media organization that is very much interested in the peace and unity of our country, have roundly viewed this subpoena from an objectified prism and discovered some concerns that will necessitate that we revisit this position of the court or handle it in a way that will not hamper our nascent peace.
First, is in the area of precedence. The public commentators have viewed this decision of the court as targeted at bringing the reputation of the former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to disrepute as he is the first person that has occupied the exalted position of president to be summoned.
Their fears are barefaced and come in double folds. First, they believe that this is a ploy to open the long-touted floodgate of litigation against the personality of the former president.
Some concerned Nigerians has also argued that if the former president Goodluck Jonathan were to be dead, will there not be a way of finding Oliseh either culpable or otherwise of the charges he is currently standing trail of?
In some quarters also, GbaramatuVoice have seen that in time past, some of the associates and in some cases political office holders have had their hands soiled with public fund, and subsequently tried in a court of competent jurisdiction without getting the president involved.
Equally, we have listened to Nigerians argued along the ethnic axis or considerations with many viewing the subpoena as a strategy to further malign the personality of the former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. This we learned his kinsmen have vowed to make the nation ungovernable if such threat persists.
There is also this school of thought that opined that this arrangement is aimed at silencing the Ijaw nation on one hand and the people of the south–south region on the other hand from further condemning or criticizing in the future, dealings of this present administration.
Looking at the above catalogue of concerns as raised, it is GbararmatuVoice opinion that; we suggest that the astute Justice Okon Abang work further hard to look for another credible way of either nailing or to free Chief Oliseh Metuh without the appearance of the former president as the mono-route to finding the truth.
Again, it is the newspaper’s position that such matter should not be viewed from the legal perspective alone but should also consider the ripple effect it may have on the socioeconomic activities of our nation.
Hence, it is our opinion that Goodluck Jonathan option is dropped and other avenues accessed so that the agitators in the oil-rich region will not find a gullible excuse of going back to disrupting the free flow of our crude oil which happens to be the economic mainstay of the nation.
Furthermore, in as much as we appreciate the probity of Justice Okon Abang in insisting that the decision of the appellate court must be followed, we suggest that he should learn to look beyond the legal application and put other factors into consideration.
We say this knowing very well that some people that are standing trial may look for ways of stalling their trails by using stringent applications such as this to cause disaffection, divert attention or heat up the polity.
Very importantly also, it is our opinion that the Chief Justice of the Federation and the National Judicial Council (NJC) should be swift in intervening in such rulings.
The NJC, in particular, should be more proactive in performing its supervisory role as early intervention can nip such decision in the bud as well as help our Judges to be properly guided.