Election: Fear Over 2023

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.

Ihedioha: Court Ousted PDP Governor of Imo State

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.

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