By Stephen Ubanna
In spite of the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, has promised to bequeath to his successor and indeed, the nation, a Free and Fair election as a beneficiary of it, in 2023, the Opposition People’s Democratic Party , PDP, fears that this may not be possible.
The PDPD’s source of worry was because of the recent happenings in the conduct of the 2019 general elections, particular, the governorship and National Assembly elections, where the Court has taking over the responsibility of deciding who has won an election or who should win, no matter the identified irregularities in the election instead of the electorate doing so as allowed in the 19999 Constitution, as amended. Note one of the basic tenets of Democracy is that ‘’power belong to the people but in the case of the Nigerian Democracy, ‘’power belong to the Court of Law’’.
This is evident going by the sacking Emeka Ihedioha, a former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives and governor of Imo state elected on the platform of the PDP by the Supreme Court, after seven months on the saddle, thus making him the first elected governor since the return of Democracy in 1999 to have to have ever stayed in office for only about seven months despite the fact that there were no cases of established rigging or vote during the election as obtained in Kano stat, north west Nigeria.
Political watchers had expected the SuPreme Court Justices to take a closer look at the election of Kano state but on Monday, January 20, 2019, the Court confirmed the victory of Abdullahi Umar Gaduje, as the All Progressive Congress , governor of the state., despite allegations of forgery, rigging and vote buying during the election. The Court also confirmed the victory of Aminu Tambuwal, a former Speaker of House of Representatives and Bala Mohammed, as the PDP, elected governors of Sokoto and Bauchi
The confirmation of these other governors, victories, particular, Gaduje, who , political watchers, had expected may be thrown out by the apex Court because of the alleged cases of rigging and vote buying during the election may have forced the PDP supporters to dare Mohammed Adamu , the Inspector General of Police, IGP, as they embarked on protest at Abuja, which resulted in take -over of some streets and other major Cities in the country. The protest may not have been smooth at Abuja, as two of the trucks conveying the protesters were said to have collided. Eye witness account said one of the trucks was stationed at the junction of one of the major roads in the City while the second truck approaching the City from the east was said to have lost control in apparent stunt and collided with the first truck station at stationed at the said location as a number of the protesters were said to have been seriously injured .
The protest was said to have started last Sunday, at Owerri, the Imo state Capital and spread to other parts of the state in anger over the seven Supreme Court Justices unanimous Judgment relieving Ihedioha, the PDP governor of the state of his position. The ousted governor had given the impression that that the people were calm because of the shock and disbelief over the Supreme Court Justices Judgment. .
The sacking of Ihedioha, by the apex Court, according to legal experts had left many unanswered questions, in the country’s electoral system as it awarded victory to Hope Uzodinmma, a one-time Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the governorship Candidate of the APC, who came a distant fourth in the election as the winner of the election.
Legal experts had expected the Court to announce Uche Nwosu, Candidate of Action Alliance, AA, and son –in –law, of Rochas Okrocha, a former APC, governor of the state , and now an elected Senator , through the Court process, who came second in the election or Senator Ifanyi Ararume, the governorship Candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, who came third as the successor to the sacked Ihedioha but were disappointed.
Signs that the PDP elected governor of Imo state may be removed from office through the Court process appears to have been known based on the Prophetic declaration of some clergy men. First to predict about the change in the Imo state, governorship election was Ejike Mbaka, a Roman Catholic Clergy man.
Also,Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG was has predicted that the year 20202 will witness upsets and change of governments, noting that some may be peaceful while others may not.
Political watchers had attributed Ihedioha’s troubles to Nwosu, Candidate of the AA, who had started the legal battleto unseat him as the governor of Imo state. He as said to have dragged the former governor to the state Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal C on the advice of Senator Okrocha, but lost to him as the case was dismissed for lack of merit. Uzodinma and Ararume, were also said to have dragged the former governor to the Tribunal and Appeal Court but were not lucky.
Okrocha, the former Imo state governor may have known that Nwosu, his son-in-Law, do not stand any chance of taking over from Ihedioha, as the governor of Imo state if he is thrown out by the Court because of the circumstances that led to his emergence as the AA governorship Candidate in the state. The fallout was that the former Imo state governor brokered a deal between the trio of Nwosu, Uzodinma and Ararume to work as Team to be able to remove Ihedioha from the Imo state government House.
Political watchers believe that the fraud perpetuated during the governorship election, may have been carefully hatched by the Opposition parties candidate in such a way that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, officials , could easily fall for them without backing it with necessary report to Abuja office.
It was not very surprising why Nwosu and the other governorship Candidates in state started their legal battle against him and INEC, no sooner he was sworn into office by the state Chief Judge on May 29, 2019. as they resorted to plan B to remove him from office through the Court process.
The political gladiators on the intervention of Okrocha, may have agreed to throw their weight on Uzodinma, the APC, Candidate, and subsequently encouraged him to approach the Supreme Court , because of his chances of winning the legal battle. The APC, governorship Candidate also has the backing of Adams Oshiomhole, the Party National Chairman and the Presidency , to pursue the case to the Supreme Court until Justice is achieved.
T As a preluede to Uzodinma taking over the Imo satate government House from the PDP elected governor of the state, the Court had agreed that Uzodinma has a good case when it was approached by his Lawyers and thus, decided to give him a fair hearing. Tanko Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, was said to have assigned seven Justices of the Court to the case including himself.The CJN may have been involved in the Imo state governorship tussle to give legitimacy to the Court ruling.
In giving the judgment , the Court had ruled that the lower Court erred in Law to have excluded Senator Uzodinma, the APC Candidate votes, totaling 213,295, scored from 388 polling units, noting that Ihedioha was declared the governor of Imo state by the Returning officer based on wrong Computations.
The apex Court also ruled that the lower Courts were wrong in holding that PW 54, police officer who was on subpoena was not the appropriate person to have tendered documents that showed the exclusion of the votes in the 388 polling units during the Collation of votes. Ihedioha’s Lawyers may have known that that game was up when the apex Court Justices held that he did not score majority votes during the governorship election in the state and therefore, should vacate office for Uzodinma, who has the majority votes. The appearance of Uzodinma, Nwosu and Ararume, at the Abuja INEC, office, penultimate Wednesday, to pick his Certificate of Return , which qualifies him to be the governor of the state speaks volume. The trio were said to have promised to work together to change Imo state, which, Uzodinma . has suffered for too long.
Going by the March 19, 1919, governorship election result released by INEC in the state , Ihedioha, the PDP Candidate was said to have polled the highest number of votes. The PDP Candidate had scored 273,404 votes while his closest rival, Nwosu , Candidate of AA, scored 190,364 votes.r 5 Ararume, the APGA, Candidate and Uzodinma, were said to have polled 114,676, and 96, 458 votes to settle for the third and fourth place in the election, respectively.
He demonstrate their new found political relationship when he and Godswell Akpabio, a formergovernor of Akwa Ibom state and minister of Niger Delta, accompanied Uzodinma to be sworn in by the state Chief Judge at Owerri late last week. Uzodinmman may have given an insight why they turned against Ihedioha, when he said he will not probe his predecessors in office, an indication that Ihedioha may have stepped on toes to probe Okrocha.
By going through the Court process , Uzodinma’s Lawyers had succeed in getting the approval of the seven Justices of the Supreme Court that the excluded 213,695 of his votes of their client be added to his original votes of 96,458, thus bringing his total number votes to 310,158, which was said to have put him ahead of Ihedioha, the PD governor of the state.
They had their way as the Tribunal accepted the duplicated originals of the results as evidence. They may have accepted the duplicated originals of the election result sheets on the basis that Rabiu Hasaini, police Deputy Commissioner could not prove that he had the Authority of Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police , IGP, to testify before the Tribunal.
Going by INEC, records, the number of accredited voters in the state , during the governorship election were 823,743 but only 739,485 , were accepted as valid votes as 25,130 votes were Cancelled, thus bringing the total number of votes during the Imo state governorship election to 714,355 votes.
Ihedioha may have known that the Supreme Court Judgment is irreversible that he has taken his case to the People’s Court, lamenting that the mandate given to him has been truncated by the Court. The former Imo state governor, who is yet to overcome the shocks of the Supreme Court ruling had said that his ‘’faith in ‘’Democracy remains absolute’’, stressing that the decision of the apex Court on the state governorship election has left ‘’many unanswered questions’’
In an emotional outburst when the PDP leadership paid him a solidarity visit in Abuja, he declared: I am certain that the judicial and the electoral system are well aware that they are on trial and what is fundamental about this is the fact of the matter as it relates to the Imo state governorship election .
Already, the Opposition PDP, has rejected the apex Court ruling, and queried how Senator Uzodinma who came fourth in the governorship election could be declared as the winner of the election. It is instructive to note that Yakubu, the INEC, Chairman, has not reacted to the Court Judgment but has carried out its instruction to issue the Certificate of Return to Uzodinma, the APC, Candidate , who has already been sworn to the joy of Okrocha, Ararume , Nwosu, Godswell Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state and minister of Niger Delta, among others.
The Value News findings shows that since the seven Supreme Court Justices gave their Judgment and subsequent swearing in of Senator Uzodinma as the governor of Imo state, security has been tightened up to avoid a breakdown of Law and Order in the state. ‘’We are calm and that is why in Imo, there is calmness coming out of shock and disbelief over the apex Court ruling’’,
One other state that Nigerians had waited to hear of the ruling of the Supreme Court Justices on it was Kano , because of the massive rigging and vote buying during the governorship election in the state.On Monday,January 20, 2019, the apex Court gave a breather to Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the APC, governor of the state by confirming his victory, thus throwing the state into wild jubiliation. The next state on the stwatch list of the people is Sokoto state, currently been ruled by Aminu Tambuwal, a former Speaker of House of Representatives and a Candidate of the PDP.