PDP Plans Option A4 To Pick Candidates For 2019 Elections

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it is planning to apply option A4 in electing its presidential candidate for the 2019 general election and all coming elections.

Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the party, disclosed this on Friday when he received Peter Manu, former chairman of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Ghana, at PDP’s national secretariat in Abuja.

Metuh said if approved by the membership of the party, the application of the method may begin with upcoming congresses of the party.

He revealed that the decision was part of the reforms to reposition the PDP for the 2019 general election.

He said the system would not be restricted to presidential election as it would be applicable to others elective positions such as governorship, senatorial, house of representatives and down to the wards.

He explained that with the proposed system, party members would have to queue behind the candidates of their choice.

“We are going to change our system to be that our presidential candidate would be voted for by all party members in the country. It would be at the ward level,” he said.

“We will no longer elect presidential candidate at the national convention. It will now be for every party member to vote for whoever would be our presidential candidate.

“Whoever would vie for our presidential ticket would have to tour the entire country before he can be elected.

“This is part of the reform we are coming up with.

“Basically, this would be the last convention where we would have people to be elected at the national convention. We are taking the party back to the Nigerian people.”

He said the proposed reform was part of Ike Ekweremadu’s committee’s recommendations on how to reform and reposition PDP.

He added that the proposed amendments had been sent to the state chapters for their inputs in line with “our desire to have peoples opinion’’.

“After their inputs, the recommendation would be sent to the national executive committee (NEC) for approval.”

Earlier, Manu had said the process of electing presidential candidate was one of the reforms his party adopted after it lost election to opposition party in Ghana in 2018.

“When we lost election, there was need to review and make amends and these amends led to some critical reforms in the party structure and organisation,” he said.

“We realised for example, that the modus operandi of how our presidential candidate was elected had a hand in why we lost the general election.

“There were as many as 17 presidential candidates in our 2008 contest when President John Kufor was exiting and all the 17 presidential candidate were running for votes from a mere 3,500 delegates.

“So, it was money, money, money until the day of congress.”

Manu said NPP realised that the then opposition party, which was now in government, used that against his party “and cast spell on us as being corrupt, that we were throwing money at the people”.

“So, the first thing I did as the national chairman of the party was to expand the delegates system to cover the nooks and cranny of the party structure,” he said.

“So, the party structure was reorganized to start from the polling unit level where a five-member executive was elected.”

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Rivers Re-Run Elections: Amaechi Dares Wike…As Governor Orders Supporters To Attack Minister On Election Day

The  Minister  of  Transportation, Chibuike  Amaechi, has  dared   Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state to fight him,  even as he threatened  to visit  his   (Governor’s)  ward  during Saturday’s  re-run election.

He was reacting  to the  order,  given  by  Wike , to his supporters  in Ikwerre local government  area,   to  beat  the  former governor, if  he tries  to monitor  the  election. Amaechi  said  the governor  was  already aware  that he ( Amaechi )  is not a coward  and as such , could not  be  intimidated by him.

He  disclosed  that  his  initial plan was  to  cast  his vote and go back to his hotel  room,   adding that Wike’s  threat  had  made  him to change his mind. According  to the Minister,  after  casting his vote,  he   would  visit    Governor  Wike’s   ward  and challenged  him  to fight him.

According  to  him, the governor  was  only  trying  to use intimidation,  as  a  tool  to  instill fears in the electorate .

 The Transportation Minister and former governor of the state gave the notice in response to the threat issued against him by the State governor, Nyesom Wike, who has ordered members of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Ikwerre Local Government Area , to beat up Amaechi, if he tries to move from ward to ward, unit by unit, to monitor Saturday’s National and State Assembly elections in the state.

Amaechi   and Celestine Omehia, both former governors, hail from   Ubima in Ikwerre local government area of the state. Addressing party members during the PDP Rivers East Senatorial District rally held at Elele, the governor threatened to deal with Amaechi, if he tries to monitor the election.

Wike personally directed the Caretaker Committee Chairman(CTC) of Ikwerre local government council , Mr. Samuel Nwanosike , to ensure that Amaechi does not monitor the National and State Assembly elections.

“Let him move from unit to unit, ward to ward, and see what the governor will do to him that day. Amaechi does not know   that he is no longer the governor, he doesn’t believe he has lost Rivers State. Beat Amaechi, if he goes to any unit, he is not the governor, if you see him, sit him down, tell him to sit down,” he said.

According to him, the Minister of Transportation planned   to be a third-term governor , through the APC governorship candidate, in the 2015 election.

Describing Saturday’s election as ‘final war’ , the governor expressed optimism   that the Minister would disappear from the state, if PDP wins all the seats in the forthcoming election.

Governor Wike also accused the Independent Electoral Commission(INEC) of plotting to rig the forthcoming election, in favour of the All Progressives Congress(APC).

According to him, his predecessor is   already in possession of   INEC ad hoc list, with a view to using same to swap result sheets   on the election day.

“Anybody that does that, may his soul rest in peace. Those that want to swap   the list, may their souls rest in peace, nobody can rig this election, you can’t swap the result, you are swapping your dead body. I’m too much for all of them, why do you want to hurt yourselves? May their souls rest in perfect peace, they have prepared the result and they are preparing their dead body,” he told the his teeming supporters. He, however, appealed to the people to votes massively for PDP candidates.

Similarly, Amaechi has appealed to the people to vote against PDP candidate in Saturday election. The Minster spoke during a Town Hall meeting in Etche Local government Area yesterday. He specifically urged them to vote against George Sekibo who is contesting the Rivers East Senatorial seat under PDP, for trying to stop him from becoming a Minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He recalled how he made George Sekibo a Senator , when he was governor and wondered why he decided to pay him back with opposition against his Ministerial appointment.

Governor Wike has warned against   the use of fake Youth Corps Members as Presiding Officers   in Saturday’s election. The governor gave the warning when he received the Rivers State coordinator of NYSC, Mr. Henry Enyenihi, Governor Wike said   only bonafide corps members should be allowed to conduct the re-run elections.

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Political Establishment, Hillary Clinton And US 2016 Elections

The 2016 US presidential campaign is turning out to be dramatic. Many analysts have predicted a something close to an easy victory for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton to have an easy ride in the primaries. I also recall severally downplaying the chances of Republican top-notch, Donald Trump, in some of my write-ups. I was proven all wrong as the results of recent primaries turned in.

I kept a vigil with CNN as the results turned in on Tuesday night hoping fighter Hillary will turn Bernie Sanders’ lead in New Hampshire around only to wake up that morning to know I was living in the world of my dreams-people are “feeling the Bern”. Not until I watched my beautiful-looking Hillary concedes defeat to Bernie, I didn’t believe it even though the major headline was “New Hampshire primary results: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders win”!

ill

 

 

The US state of New Hampshire held its traditional primary just eight days after the Iowa caucuses. Polling in the Granite State has historically been volatile in the final weeks before the primary. Once Iowa holds its caucuses, many New Hampshire voters are known to traditionally cement their opinions especially in the age of the new media.

The state has a reputation for predicting correctly the winner of the eventual nomination. Historically a look at votes cast in New Hampshire shows a candidate received and won the eventual nomination.

On the Democratic side, since 1992, Barrack Obama (2012), John Kerry (2004), Al Gore (2000) and Bill Clinton (1996) all won at New Hampshire and eventually won the party nomination.

On the Republican side, Governor Mitt Romney (2012), Senator John McCain (2008), Governor George W. Bush (2000 and 2004) and Senator Bob Dole (1996) all won the GOP primaries in the state and became eventual winners in the final analyses.

Let us have a look at how the presidential candidates fared in New Hampshire. In the Republican race, Donald Trump has a clear lead with 34% over Marco Rubio’s 11%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders had a clear lead with 60% over Hillary Clinton’s 38%.

Let us forget a little about the Republicans and restrict our analyses to the Democrats. I say this because the GOP nomination is still open to more possibilities than their progressive counterparts. If it is not Jeb Bush, it will be Marco Rubio. If it is not Ted Cruz, it should be Donald Trump. But surely the ticket cannot go to Christine Fiorina!

For the Democrats, the ticket belongs to whoever is “feeling the Bern” or “fighting for US”. Hillary for America strategists need not be told now that they have grossly underestimated Bernie. They also need not be reminded of the importance of NH primary. They do not need the advice that the time come for a reality check. They cannot continue to rely on Hillary or Clinton to just bring in the votes. Bernie may not be so popular with those outside America, but the results are going on just fine for him. In fact, Bernie’s strategists, the truth be told, are doing a fantastic job.

Ina parenthesis, the loss in this year’s state’s primary is strange because New England state has long been kind to the Clintons. It is the same state that made, Hillary’s husband, Bill the “comeback kid” in 1992. And Hillary beat Barack Obama there in 2008, salvaging her campaign after a third-place showing in Iowa.

Also, the fact that Hillary has about 9% support among younger women, aged 18-34, should concern her handlers because records available show that Bernie cruises home with over 90% support among this strategic population. Whoever invited Madeleine Albright, first woman US secretary of state, to speak at Hillary’s NH campaign rally obviously did not do a good job. Let us hear what she had to say on younger women who are not supporting Hillary: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” Haba Madam! Na by force?

Well, I have just been reliably informed that “special place in hell” is Albright’s favourite line which she has used for many years therefore it is not unique to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Again, even at that, she being a longstanding diplomat, Albright should have been more tactful speaking for a political campaign!

As a Hillary fan myself, I think it will be good if her handlers can look at the New Hampshire debacle from fresh perspectives. President Obama lost in the state after a good start in Iowa in 2008, yet he still won the election. In this case, I suggest her handlers do as they were doing when they started. They need to avoid attacking Sanders directly. The attacks on his campaign from Hillary for America are becoming too direct in recent times.

It appears there is mental fatigue on the part of Hillary’s handlers since the Benghazi Inquiry. In my opinion, the handling of that incidence is the most professional thing her campaign has done. Ever since, it has been forthcoming in providing the gap for Sanders to exploit. This only shows mental fatigue on the part of Hillary for America.

While we agree that is not just rocket science, we keep our fingers crossed as the results on these keenly contested primaries come in without engaging in unnecessary prognosis. One thing is sure- US politics will not remain the same after the 2016 election. The results so far show how fast the political establishments are crumbling in both parties if things continue this way. This is where Hillary’s campaign staff must analyse the issues from!

 

Olalekan Waheed Adigun is a political risk analyst and an independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. Email: olalekan@olalekanadigun.com, adgorwell@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter: @adgorwell +2348136502040, +2347081901080

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INEC Bars Fresh Candidates From participating In Re-run Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disqualified fresh candidates that may want to participate in the re-run elections scheduled for February and March in some states across the country.

INEC in a public notice yesterday argued that since it is not a general election, it is against the Electoral Act for fresh candidates to contest in the re-run, warning that the same candidates and the political parties that contested the first elections should take part.

Part of the notice reads: “Following consultations with major stakeholders in the electoral process and the public interest in the subject, the Independent National Electoral Commission at its meeting on Monday considered and approved dates for the conduct of elections as ordered by the Court of Appeal.

“Consequent upon the judgements of the court, the Commission will conduct the elections in 69 of the constituencies with the same political parties and their respective candidates who participated in the annulled elections in Gombe, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Niger, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Taraba, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, and Rivers.”

Revealing that the elections would hold between February 13 and March 19, 2016, the Commission emphasized that only the same candidates and political parties that participated in the first election will take part in the re-run, adding that the senate election in Abia North will be held in 43 polling booths.

The public notice further specified that while senatorial elections will take place in five states like Abia, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Benue and Rivers, after which re-runs into the House of Representatives and State Assemblies will hold.

Giving further breakdown of the elections, INEC disclosed that in Abia State, six State Constituency elections will hold in 124 polling units, three senatorial seats and 12 federal Constituencies will be contested in all the constituencies, adding that about 18 State Assembly seats will be contested.

“The Commission further gives notice that the political parties and candidates entitled to participate in the elections in the other 11 constituencies are contained in detailed lists of elections”, it added.

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#DasukiGate: Full List Of Firms Invited By The DSS Over Arms Scandal

The office of the National Security Adviser has invited 241 companies and organizations in relation with receipt of payments from the agency during the tenure of Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel.

A public notice released on Friday directed the firms to appear before a panel probing payments to individuals, companies and foundations.

The companies are to appear between January 12 and 26 with their certificates of incorporation, particulars of directors, tax clearance certificates for their companies and directors from 2011 till date, letter of award of contracts, evidence of payments so far/outstanding balance, certified bank statements, and other documents considered relevant to the contracts.

List of companies to appear before the contract verification committee on January 12th includes:

1. 2020 Nigeria Limited
2. 313 BDC Limited,
3.A & Hatman Limited,
4.A A Master Nigeria Limited,
5. A and B Associate, Abbatare Inc.,
6. Abraham Telecommunication Limited,
7.Abuja Electricity Distribution Company,
8. Abusarhard Nigeria Limited,
9. Acacia Holdings Limited,
10. Ace of Wood Working Nigeria Limited
11. Africair Inc. 

Those expected on January 12 are: 

12. Afro-Arab Investment Limited,
13. Agabea Securities Limited,
14. Agbede A. Adesina and Co,
15. AGI Nigeria Limited,
16. Ahjuwa Nigeria Enterprises,
17. Air USA,
18. AI Noor Travels and Tours,
19. Albani Associates,
20. Allaje Motors Limited,
21. Almond Project Limited,
22. AMAC Aerospace,
23. APC Axial, Appledrop Nigeria Limited,
24. Apt Securities Limited,
25. AR Security Solution Limited,
26. Arewa House,  ASECNA
27. Associate Air Centre.

Companies to appear before the committee on January 13th 

28. Atlas Capital Sa,
29. Autoforms Integrated Enterprises Limited,
30. Autopoietic Telemetric Solutions Limited,
31. Aviation Techni GMBH, Bam Project
32. Projecties,  Baron Limited,
33. Bell Pottinger LLP
34. Belley Corporation,
35. Belsha Nigeria Limited,
36. Bergons Security Consulting & Supply Limited,
37. Bilal Turnkey Contractors Limited,
38. Biodun & Adekunle Idiagbon,
39. Bluenory Limited,
40. Bob Oshodin Org,
41. Boeing Commercial Airplanes,
42. Brains & Hammers Limited,
43. Bureau Securitas Limited,
44. CAE Flight Training LLC
45. Cardiff Properties Limited,
46. Centre Etiquette Protocal
47. Social Graces Limited,
48. Centre for Regional Integration and Development,
49. Cert Protection Agency,
50. Circular Automobile Limited,
51. CLD Global Concepts Limited,
52. Clems Eze & Co,
53. Codan Limited,
54. Community Defence Law Foundation,
55. Complus International Service Limited,
56. Conella Services Limited
57. Coordinating Committee of Traditional Rulers.

Those to appear before the committee on January 14
58. Core Comm Association of Traditional Rulers,
59.  Corart Ventures Limited,
60. Crack Security Service Limited,
61. Crenfact Ventures Limited,
62. Cresco Limited,
63. Damaris Mode Coulture Limited,
64. Dar’Alsalam Travels & Tours,
65. Dassault Falcon Service,
68. Da’Voice Bnetwork Solution Limited,
69. Debanto Consulting Co. Limited,
70. Development Strategy International Limited,
71. Dezign Zentrum Limited
72. DEX BDC,
73. Digital Inspiration Limited
74. DM Communication Limited,
75. Donpedro Medical Company Limited,
76. Eastwise Trading,
77. E-Force Interservice Limited,
78. Eivor Media Nigeria Limited,
79. Enviromental Engineering and Construction Limited,
80. Enviromental One Global Enterprise
81. Enviromental, Engineering Construction Limited,
82. Eric Ventures Limited,
83. Fara Security Limited,
84. Fimex Gilt Limited,
85. First Aralac Global Limited,
86. Fiz-Hyl Global Investment Limited,
87. Fleetmeig HT W/A Limited,
88. FlightSafety International
89. Foretech Investment Limited.

On January 19th, companies to appear before the committee 

90. Forts and Shields Limited,
91. Forum for Protection of CNI,
92. Forum for Protection of Critical National Infrastructure,
93. GC Electronic Limited,  GDP Associate Limited,
94.  General Hydrocarbons Limited,
95. Geonel Integrated Service Limited
96. Gerhard Rothhaupt,
97. Geronimo Middle East & African Limited
98. Geronimo System Limited
99. GEW Technologies Limited
100. Girl Child Concern,
101. Glenair Training Centre Limited, England
102. Global Industrial and Defence Solution – Pakistan
103. Global Structures
104. Gold Reff Industries Nigeria Limited
105. Goodyear Properties Limited
106. Gracepeace Ventures Nigeria Limited
107. GTESC Limited
108. Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation
109. Halal Palace Ventures
110. Hamada Properties and Investment Co. Ltd
111. Hawker Beechcraft Corporation
112. Heintzmann Sicherheitssysteme GmbH,
113. Helpline Organisation
114. Hypertech (MR) Limited
115. IB Casa
116. Image Axis Limited
117. Imperial College Healthcare
118. Integrated Navigation Systems.

On January 20th, the committee will also verify the contracts of the following companies:  

119. International Res. Management Limited
120.  International Resources Management Co. Ltd
121. Investment Option Limited
122. ITSI-Bioscience, LLC,
123. Jabbama Ada Global Nigeria Limited
124. Jakadiya Picture Company
125. Jawaz Multipurpose Ventures Limited
126. JBE Multimedia Investment Limited
127. Jnzizi Investment Co. Limited
128. Kadawa Agro Products Limited
129. Kamala Motors Limited
130. Kampus Suites Limited
131. Kane Int. Limited
132. Key Information Service Limited
133. Kitwood Nigeria Limited
134. Kola Adejide & Associate
135. Konet Limited
136. La Kreem International Limited
137. Laconso Global Gotechniks Limited
138. Lambstar Limited
139. Law Partner and Associates
140. Lazer Detct System 2010 Limited,
141. Leaderette Nigeria Limited
142. Leeman Communication Limited
143. Lislie Tading Limited
144. Little Italy Global Service Limited
145. London Advertising Limited
146. Loure Global Service Limited
147. Maimakani Nigeria Limited
148. Makfab General Enterprises Nigeria Limited.

On January 21, the committee is expecting
149. Manara Development Project Limited
150. Map Telecommunication Limited
151. Marshall Aviation Service Ltd
152. Max Air
153. MCAF Associates
154. Mithra – Oil Limited
155. Moortown Global Investment
156. MPS Global Services Limited
157. Murtala Mohammed Foundation
158. Musim Venture Company Limited
159. Muteedah  Travels & Tours Limited
160. Muzaq Investment Limited
161. Mystrose Limited
162. NARICT
163. National Agency for Computer Security of Tunisia
164. Nerris Limited,  NIALS Research Fund
165. Nigeria Guild Editors (NGE)
167. Nigeria in Safe Hands
168. Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ),
169. Norden Global Resources Limited
170. Numora Multi-Trade,
171. O O Osuntokun and Co
172. Obasa Specialty Vehicles
173. ODELL International LLC
174. OnePlus Holding Ltd
175. Onile Nigeria Limited
176. Ornyx Properties Limited
177. Patton Boggs LLP
178. Peoples & Passion Consult Limited.

List of those to appear before the committee on  January 25
179. PHK International Co. Ltd
180. Pickel Holdingd and Investment LTD
181. Pioneer Ventures Limited
182. Pratt and Whitney, Canada
183. Pro-Avionics Limited
184. Proptex Nigeria Limited
185. Prosedec Inter Global Limited
186. Proton Security Service Limited
187. Quarter One Consulting Limited
188. Rajco Int. Ltd
189. RECN Networks Limited
190. Real Property Investment Limited
191. Reliance Reference Hospital
192. Ripples Ventures Limited
193. Rolls Royce NA
194. Romix Technologies Limited
195. Rothhaupt GMGH
196. Safety Technologies Limited
197. Sanisah Communication Limited
198. Sanmilak Nigeria Limited
199. Sartoria Ventures
200. Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development
201. Seal Chambers
202. Scientel Limited
203. Secureforces Logistics Limited
204. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation
205. Silk Resources Limited
206. SK Sawki
207. Sky Expert Nigeria Limited
208. Slyvan McNamara Limited.

The list of those to appear before the committee on January 26
209. Societe D’Equipment Internationaux
210. Soject Nigeria Limited
211. Southerland Associates Limited,
212. ST Aerospace Solutions, Denmark,
213. Starbriid Limited
214. Starr Concrete Blocks & Properties Limited,
215. Starepoint Integrated Service Limited,
216. Stellavera De. Co. Limited,
217. Tag Aviation S.A.
218. TechDecision Limited,
219. The Honda Place Limited
222. Tianjin Tianrong International Dev. Limited
223. Tosins and Co Limited
224. Traditional Rulers of Nigeria
225. Trafiga Limited
226. Transgurara Nig. Ltd
227. Trim Communication Nigeria Limited
228. Tripple Kay Company Nigeria Limited
229. UCBK Motors
230. Value Trust Investment
231. Vibrant Resources Limited
232. VIG Limited
233. Wakaso Research and Consultancy Limited
234. WEHSEC Farms Limited
235. West Autos Solutions Enterprise
236.  Westan Group Associates Limited
237. Westwood Motors Limited
238. White Zebu BDC
239. Wonder  Wheels Automobile Limited
240. Zamzam Option Limited
241. Zukhruf Nigeria Limited.

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Kogi Elections: Wada Drags APC, Bello, INEC To Tribunal

Governor Idris Wada of Kogi state has filed a petition, challenging the return of Alhaji Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the November 21, and December 5, state governorship election.

Secretary of the state , Akanji Akinlabi, confirmed yesterday that the governor filed his petition at about 7.15 pm on Tuesday.

Akinlabi said the petition, which was signed by Chief Chris Uche, leading two other Senior Advocates of Nigeria among other lawyers, had the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Alhaji Bello and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as respondents.

Akinlabi said it was not in his place to disclose the grounds of the petition and reliefs being sought by the petitioners to the public.

Wada was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the November 21 governorship election declared inconclusive by the INEC. It was later concluded on December 5, after a supplementary election in 91 polling units across the state.

Earlier on Monday, James Abiodun Faleke, the running mate to the APC candidate in the election, late Prince Abubakar Audu, had also filed a petition at the tribunal, challenging the decision of the INEC in declaring the November 21, election inconclusive.

Faleke, who held that INEC erred in its inconclusive declaration, maintained that November 21 election by all standards was concluded and prayed the tribunal to declare that the APC on the Audu/Faleke ticket won the election.

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Concerned Akwa Ibom Elders Decry Lack Of Justice In Judicial Decisions On Akwa Ibom Elections

DEMAND PROBE OF CONTRADICTORY JUDGMENTS

We the undersigned elders of Akwa Ibom State, having reviewed the judgments of all the election petition tribunals and those of the Court of Appeal on the petitions and appeals that arose from the elections of 28 March 2015 and 11 April 2015 in the state, hereby express our very serious concern over the clear cases of miscarriage of justice in nearly all of the decided cases so far.

Our concerns are based on self-evident facts that if the election petitions were determined on their merits, the judicial decisions would have been consistent with the demands of justice and even common sense. In specific terms, the following are our grounds of concern:

1.  THE WORLD CANNOT BE WRONG IN CONDEMNING THE AKWA IBOM POLLS AS FRAUDUDLENT

In their written reports and many media interviews on the elections held on the days cited above, the European Union, the American Government, the African Union and local election monitors all condemned the conduct of the polls in Akwa Ibom and Rivers states. In a unanimous verdict, the representatives of the international community that monitored the elections stated categorically that elections as known to Nigerian laws did not take place in both Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.
Local security reports on the elections in both states equally stated that the said elections in both states were substantially marred by irregularities and violence. Most of the judicial decisions on the Akwa Ibom election petitions and appeals ignored the position of the international community on the polls. But the world cannot be wrong. The judges and justices that handled the election petitions and appeals in Rivers State agreed with the international community. Why is the Akwa Ibom case different?

2.  NON-SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH AND BREACH OF THE ELECTORAL ACT AND THE CONSTITUTION

We have noted with disbelief how most of the rulings of the various tribunals and the Court of Appeal were clearly inconsistent with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution. In all the election cases so far decided, a serious case of over voting was established. For instance, during the governorship election petition, evidence was led before the tribunal to establish a case of over voting where 1,222,836 votes  were recorded by Akwa Ibom State INEC as against INEC headquarters Card Reader data which show that only 437,128 voters were accredited to cast ballot in the governorship election. The voters’ register also showed a lower figure of 448, 307 as having been accredited to vote in the election. It is just not possible for 437,128 voters, going by the Card reader figure (or 448, 307, according to the voters’ register) to cast 1,222,836 votes. Section 53 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, provides for the cancellation of elections where there are incidents of over voting. By failing to cancel the entire governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, the election petition tribunal had ignored the clear provision of the law for the conduct of the election. Akwa Ibom people demand explanation.

We want to highlight another instance of breach of the provision of the Electoral Act in the adjudication of the election petitions in Akwa Ibom State with respect to over voting. In Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District (Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District), where both the election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld the election of the Senate Minority Leader, Chief Godswill Akpabio, the number of votes cast in the election, which stood at 450,000, according to INEC records, far exceeded the number of registered voters in the entire senatorial district, which stand at 205,000 in INEC record. Yet the courts overlooked this clear case of over voting, again contrary to section 53 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.

The case of former governor Godswill Akpabio has more bewildering dimension.  The courts equally overlooked the unambiguous fact that Senator Akpabio was not presented by his party for election in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District, where he was declared elected, and  rationalised that the nomination of Akpabio for election in a different senatorial district other than where he was declared winner was a minor error that was erased, in the curious view of the courts, by the unfathomable argument that the voters knew whom they voted for even if he was not validly nominated for the election. We invite the world to look at the contrary decision  in a similar case in Taraba State, where it was decided that the PDP candidate for the election, who is now the state governor, could not be returned elected because he was not validly nominated by his party due to a similar irregularity in his nomination process. Votes for the PDP candidate in the election were regarded as wasted votes because he was not validly nominated. Why was the law applied differently in the case of Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District?

  1. THE JUDICIARY HAS MADE NIGERIA AN OBJECT OF RIDICULE BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ON AKWA IBOM POLLS

The blatant denial of justice by the Judiciary to Akwa Ibom voters and the APC candidates who contested the elections has presented Nigeria before the international community as a country of strong men, where only the rich and powerful get justice. But all internationally respected nations operate on the basis of the rule of law, where all manner of men get equal treatment at the temple of justice. Nigeria is thus reduced by some of its judges to a laughing stock before the international community. In fact, in other jurisdictions, the election would have been cancelled outright by the election umpire. But in the Akwa Ibom case, not only did the election umpire announce the results of the fraudulent polls, the tribunal also failed to declare that the PDP governorship candidate was not validly returned, even when it held that he did not meet the requirements of the law to be returned elected.

A combination of these failures in upholding the law in the Akwa Ibom election cases has truly reduced Nigeria’s standing in the comity of democratic nations.

  1. WE DEMAND PROBE OF THE UNJUST AND UNFAIR JUDGMENTS ON THE AKWA IBOM ELECTION CASES

In the light of the foregoing, we the undersigned Concerned Elders of Akwa Ibom State, hereby respectfully call on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, President Muhammadu Buhari to institute a judicial commission of enquiry into the adjudication of all the election petitions and appeals that resulted from the elections held in Akwa Ibom State on 28 March 2015 and 11 April 2015. The good people of Akwa Ibom State demand to know why the Judiciary treated election cases emanating from their state completely differently from similar cases in Rivers and Taraba states. The President is requested to investigate the allegations published by Sahara Reporters that Appeal Court Justices who handled the election cases from Akwa Ibom were bribed by the PDP-controlled government in the state. The allegations by Sahara Reporters, which detailed how mind-boggling amounts of cash were hauled at night to Abuja through the Akwa Ibom State Airport for the purposes of bribing the Appeal Court Justices, should not be swept under the carpet. The question of corruption of the judicial system in the adjudication of the Akwa Ibom election petition cases appears to be self-evident.

Last night the AIT carried a story obviously sponsored by the Akwa Ibom State government that the PDP had won 12 House of Assembly cases in the Court of Appeal, whereas those cases have not been decided yet. Though the cases were billed to be decided yesterday, the court did not take them. It is apparent that the story of the PDP ‘victories’ were aired on TV based on pre-arrangement, suggesting that the PDP had already seen the judgments. We believe that a judicial commission of inquiry into these allegations of corruption is the least that President Buhari can do to give our people a sense of justice and fair play, and restore their faith in the democratic process.

Signed:

Otuekong Jackson Udoh,
Leader, Uyo Elders Forum

Obong Rita Akpan,
Former Minister of the Federal Republic

Dr Ime Okopido,
Former Minister of the Federal Republic

Professor Okon Eminue,
Former Chairman, Governing Council of Akwa Ibom State University.

 

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President Buhari Thanks Musicians For Their Contribution To APC’s Victory In 2015 General Elections

President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in Kaduna formally expressed his gratitude and that of the APC for the tremendous contributions artistes made to the party’s victory in this year’s general elections.

Declaring the Kaduna Music Festival (KADAMFEST) open, President Buhari said that the story of the 2015 elections could not be honestly told without acknowledging the great contribution of some artistes to the APC’s success.

“Many were the efforts made to build a strong party and persuade people that an alternative exists to the incompetence of the PDP. We politicians did our best. But the story of 2015 cannot be honestly told without acknowledging the contributions of creative people to the APC’s success.

“Many actors, musicians and writers – from different strands and in various styles- drew Nigerians to the banner of change. In speaking the language of the people, enlightening and mobilising them with words and images they could understand, I doubt if any politician surpassed the likes of Dauda Rarara and other musicians.

“You – our artists gave hope to our people and persuaded them to believe that things could really change. Musicians and actors across the length and breadth of Nigeria mobilized the citizenry to stand up for peaceful, orderly and transparent elections. You preached both peace and hope leading to democratic change.

“This application of creative talent to the cause of political change in a dire moment for our country deserves eternal gratitude. As President, I say a formal thank you today on behalf of myself, the APC and our victorious candidates.

“In appreciating talent, we have a duty to ensure that we do not turn our backs, or reduce the creative sector to something that we engage only during elections. We who have been inspired or benefitted in other ways from creative talent owe an obligation to help ensure that the talented can live on their gifts. Those who identified with us, sang, danced and rapped for us when we were seeking office have earned the right to our recognition.

“It is in this spirit that I commend the Kaduna State Government for organising the Kaduna Annual Music Festival (KADAMFEST) which offers a platform to acknowledge musicians from all over the country for helping to make 2015 the year of change.

“KADAMFEST also reflects the Kaduna State Government’s approach to giving momentum to the growth of the creative industry in the state. In creating jobs, government often has to provide funds and facilities to catalyse the opportunities.

“It is noteworthy, however, that the Kaduna State Government has attracted private sector sponsorship for this festival, and did not have to put in its own resources,” President Buhari said.

He thanked the sponsors of the festival and urged other companies to do more to support his administration’s efforts to boost employment in the country.

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Face Boko Haram And Not Rigging Elections For APC, PDP Tells Military

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday asked the Nigerian military to avoid the temptation of abandoning their constitutional role of securing the country to join the All Progressives Congress  (APC) in rigging election.

The  party said the military should rather face Boko Haram and other insecurity issues in Nigeria and not aid APC in rigging elections.

Addressing journalists in his office in Abuja,  the acting National Chairman of the party, Mr. Uvhe Secondus, said the nation’s constitution has no room for military participation in politics, adding that if the military wants to participate in politics, the constitution must be amended.

He warned that the Bayelsa State governorship election should not be manipulated as the Kogi election.
Speaking on while reviewing the conduct of the cancelled election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State Secondus alleged that the military wanted to rig the election for the APC governorship candidate.

He said they were told that security agents came with armoured vehicles, harassed and intimidated people of Southern Ijaw Local Government.

“The report that we got from Southern Ijaw was indeed alarming and discouraging. We were told that security agencies came with armoured cars, harassed and intimidated the people.

“We want to appeal to the  army to face the military job and avoid anything that can brew crisis to Nigeria; we have enough to battle,” Secondus advised.

According to him, Southern Ijaw Local Government is a PDP stronghold since 1999, noting that no magic will change it overnight.

He said: “The election has been won already and the governor and the good people of Bayelsa State have spoken,” and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to respect the will of the people.

“Nigeria today is faced with several challenges: the Boko Haram in Northeast, the challenge of Biafra, the separatist group in the South-east.
“My advise to the APC led government is that they must not do anything that will truncate our democracy. Terrorism, insecurity in our land, we have had enough. The president needs peace in all the zones to be able to rule.
“We should give peace a chance; the media must also help to find the truth. We should not destroy Nigeria with propaganda.
“We advise the security agencies especially the military to know that they are Nigerian soldiers, Nigerian Army not APC army. They must not play partisan at this levels. Their duty is to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and must be so guided. They are to protect all of us whether APC of PDP. They must not be involved in politics.
He said the PDP is already challenging the declaration of APC governorship candidate in Kogi State as winner of the election in court.
“We believe that in Kogi the judiciary will rise to the occasion and address the matter and deliver justice to our people in Kogi state. We will get justice there for the rule of law to take place over what happened in Kogi.

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Rejoinder: On Credible Elections And The Rivers State Governorship Tribunal – By Orji Agwu Uka

I read an insightful, thought provoking and blunt [but not entirely controversy free] article titled, ‘If You Love Credible Elections, Then You Must Thank The Rivers State Governorship Tribunal’ written by my friend and former boss, Chinedu Ekeke, a digital Public Affairs Analyst and a trained Accountant. The article, which was written against the backdrop of what the writer referred to as, “very laughable pronouncements” emanating from the various Governorship Election Petition Tribunals, in turn inspired this riposte. As brilliant and well researched as Chinedu’s article was [and I admit that reading it should make any lawyer yellow with pride and the same time green with envy], it was nevertheless not without blemish, hence this follow up.

Unlike typical rejoinders, the central point of this work is not to disagree with the nucleus of the above referenced article, to the effect that the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal rose to the defence of democracy in Nigeria by giving judicial imprimatur to the use of card readers at the last general elections, thus taking a clear departure from the decisions of other States’ Tribunals e.g. Akwa Ibom State. This work however states that the other Tribunals e.g. the Court of Appeal in the Lagos State Governorship election petition case of All Progressives Congress vs. Kolawole Olujimi Agbaje may not necessarily have been wrong when they held that the issue of non-use of card readers was not a valid ground for nullifying an election, a position which I understand has apparently been recently justified by the Supreme Court in Ihedioha vs. Rochas Okorocha.

In one of my previous interventions on whether wearing army uniforms by civilians is a crime or a mere moral wrong, I stated that there are certain fundamental principles that run through the jurisprudence of most constitutional democracies including Nigeria, for which there are hardly any departures. These principles, the consideration of which were understandably absent in the article, have been factored into this piece, consequent upon which this writer has arrived at the same conclusion as Chinedu’s central argument on the legality of the use of card readers but with significantly different reasons.

One of such principles is the principle of Supremacy of the Constitution and another, the doctrine of the Rule of Law. What these entail inter alia is that every person is equal before the law and everything must be done according to the law. Thus the Constitution/Laws serve as the scale to measure the validity of any action or decision such that where any action or decision is inconsistent with the Constitution or any other law, the courts will not hesitate to declare void such action or decision.

Another important foundation upon which the Nigerian constitutional system is built is that of Separation of Powers. By this principle, the powers of state are horizontally delineated among the three arms of Government, to wit: the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The legislature makes the law, the executive implements and the judiciary interprets in the event of a dispute. Again, no arm of government is permitted to encroach upon the powers allotted to the other. It is on the strength of this that the Court of Appeal per Obande Ogbuinya JCA held in APC vs. Agbaje that:

It is trite that the sacred duty of a court is jus dicere and not jus dare: to declare the law and not to make one. See Ugwu vs. Ararume (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 365.

The last relevant principle worthy of consideration is the doctrine of Stare Decisis, in full stare decisis et non quieta movere which translates, “to stand by things decided, and not to disturb settled points.” The essence of this doctrine is that courts at a lower rung of the hierarchical ladder are bound by previous decisions of courts above them and are not in a position to depart from or ignore such decisions. Thus a High Court faced with a Court of Appeal decision on a point (no matter how erroneous), is “condemned to follow” the Court of Appeal decision, no matter how brilliant the submissions against such a decision.

Once again, the above principles, absent in Chinedu’s article have occasioned this writer’s departure from some of the reasoning in his article. For example, Chinedu writes that, “the kernel of the historic 2015 elections” were the card readers and the guidelines issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (“INEC”) on their use. As attractive as this view sounds, from a strict legal standpoint, the only point of view the courts are duty bound to uphold is that the kernel of the elections were and will remain, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and the Electoral Act 2010 as variously amended.

Furthermore, Chinedu took umbrage with the holding of the Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that a breach of the electoral guidelines is not a ground to nullify an election and of course the decision by the Akwa Ibom State Tribunal that the Manual for Election Officials 2015 issued by INEC as well as the INEC Press Release which made the use of card readers compulsory was null and void for contravening Section 49 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. I will address these two grouses in reserve order.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Akwa Ibom Tribunal indeed at page 130 of the judgment held that the INEC Press Release was null and void and of no effect whatsoever. I have tried painstakingly albeit unsuccessfully to wrap my head around the judgment but permit me to simply endorse Chinedu’s submission on the legality of the use of card readers at the last elections and adopt same as mine. My views on the merits of the judgment shall be the basis for another intervention.

For the Ebonyi Tribunal (which judgment I haven’t read) let us assume for the sake of argument that the Tribunal truly held that a breach of the electoral guidelines is not a ground to nullify an election. This finding is however without legal fault as I will demonstrate below.

The justification for the above view is found within the judgment of the Court of Appeal in APC vs. Agbaje. I must pause to state that a number of persons have sought to rely on the judgment of the Court of Appeal to justify the view that the use of card readers contravened the Electoral Act, this with respect, either stems from an inability to synthesise the decision of the Court of Appeal or an attempt at mischief or a combination of the two.

It is a trite principle in law, known by all and sundry (except those hell bent on mischief) that the decision of a court, or an opinion expressed by a Judge, must be taken within the context of the facts and peculiar circumstances of the case on which the pronouncement was made. As far back as 1989, the Supreme Court in the words of Oputa JSC of blessed memory observed in the case of Adegoke Motors vs. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt 109) 250 at pages 265-266 paras H-A thus:

It also appeared in rather bold relief that there is now a tendency among our lawyers, and sometimes among some of our Judges, to consider pronouncements made by the Justices of the Supreme Court in unnecessary isolation from the facts and surrounding circumstances of those particular cases in which those pronouncements were made. I think it ought to be obvious, that it is the facts and circumstances of any given case that frame the issues for decision in that particular case. Pronouncements of our Justices whether they are rationes decidendi or obiter dicta must therefore be inextricably related to the facts of the given case. Citing those pronouncements without relating them to facts that induced them will be citing them out of their proper context, for without known facts, it is impossible to know the law on those facts.

In APC vs. Agbaje the Court of Appeal stated the obvious, that election petitions are sui generis. The Court held:

Election petition is sui generis, see Oshiomhole v. Airhiavbere (supra); Ikechukwu v. Nwoye (supra); Oke v. Mimiko (No. 1) (2014) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1388) 225; Akpamgbo-Okadigbo v. Chidi (No. 2) (2015) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1466) 124. It is a specie of proceeding which does not condone ordinarily pardonable blunders arising from even fallibility of human errors.

The Electoral Act 2010 provides four grounds for challenging an election or the return of a particular candidate as the winner of an election. Section 138 (1) of the Act provides:

An election may be questioned on any of the following grounds, that is to say:

(a) That a person whose election is questioned was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election;

(b) That the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or noncompliance with the provisions of this Act;

(c) That the respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; or

(d) That the petitioner or its candidate was validly nominated but was lawfully excluded from the election.

The provision donates to a party a right to challenge an election on any of the listed grounds, only. And in accordance with the special nature of election petitions, the courts have over the years held that the law mandates parties to election petitions to adhere strictly to the above statutory forms in drafting their grounds of petitions. See for example Ojukwu vs. Yar’adua (2009) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1154) 50; Oshiomhole vs. Airhiavbere (2013) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1353) 376.

An example that will best illustrate the point being made is in matrimonial proceedings where the Matrimonial Causes Act provides only one ground for the dissolution of marriage to wit: that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Thus even if a husband unsuccessfully attempts to kill his wife but fails, she cannot successfully seek to dissolve the marriage if she brings the petition on the ground that the husband tried to kill her. The only ground upon which the court will dissolve the marriage is if she claims that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and then demonstrates that, with the action of the husband as the basis for the court to come to that conclusion. Why? Because the law says so.

Now back to election petitions, although the Court in Ojukwu vs. Yar’adua held that a petitioner is permitted to “use his own language to convey the exact meaning and purport of the subsection”, thus giving a petitioner the license to paraphrase the grounds upon which an election can be challenged, however the latitude is not without limit as the ground must still fall within the intendment of that section.

In the Lagos Governorship election case, the Respondents challenged paragraph 13(b) of the Petition as not qualifying as a ground to challenge the election of 11th April, 2015. The said paragraph 13(b) reads:

That there are so many irregularities in respect of the use of the card readers during the election, as many polling units did not have the card readers or make use of the said card readers even where available.

What the Court of Appeal merely held in APC vs. Agbaje, using Section 138(1) of the Electoral Act as the compass for determining the validity of the above paragraph, was that the said paragraph did not, in the least, fit into any of the grounds catalogued in the inviolate provision of Section 138(1) of the Electoral Act. On this score alone, one finds it extremely difficult to fault the finding of the Court of Appeal. In similar vein, one may also conclude that the Ebonyi Tribunal was right to hold that a breach of the electoral guidelines is not a ground to nullify an election except if the petition was couched in a manner that the breach of the electoral guidelines consequentially amounted to corrupt practices or noncompliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

Admittedly the Court of Appeal per Obande Ogbuinya JCA did not stop at that and proceeded to hold as follows on the card reader:

The concept, owing to its recent invention by INEC, a non-legislative body, traces its paternity to the Manual for Election Officials, 2015: Chapter 2, pages 35-42. Put the other way round, the extant Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, which predates the concept, is not its parent or progenitor. Since it is not the progeny of the Electoral Act, a ground in a petition fronting it as a ground to challenge any election does not have its blessing, nay Section 138(1) of it. Put simply, a petitioner cannot project the non-presence or improper use of smart card reader as a ground for questioning an election it does not qualify as one.

It is the above dictum that has been bandied about by lawyers and litigants alike as the authority that the Court of Appeal overruled the use of card readers at the last elections. Nothing can be further from the truth. It is instructive to note that the Court of Appeal in fact held that the blame should be laid not at the feet of the Tribunal but at the lawyers who drafted the petition. The Court per Obande Ogbuinya JCA also held:

Before the final verdict, let me observe, obiter, that this cross-appeal brings to the fore the need for parties, qua counsel, to exhibit artistry, dexterity and meticulosity in drafting election petitions. The petition, which metamorphosed into the appeal, was poorly drafted disclosing lots of avoidable loopholes. That is not desirable in a keenly-contested poll like the one being challenged in the petition. The grounds, save that on qualification, were inapposite and wanting in the necessary reliefs. The petition, from its birth, was destined to fail in limine! It is very unfortunate!!

I cannot agree any less. In fact it can be stressed that intrinsic in the above admonition is the unstated view that if the petition had been properly drafted, such that the grouse with the non-use of card readers were relied on as facts to buttress either grounds (b) or (c) in Section 138(1) of the Electoral Act, then the court may have come to a different conclusion. Consequently, those celebrating the premature death of the card readers may be celebrating a tad too soon.

On the card readers the Court of Appeal specifically held:

The evolution of the concept of smart card reader is a familiar one. It came to being during the last general election held in March and April, 2015 in Nigeria. On this score, it is a nascent procedure injected into our infant and fledgling electoral system to ensure credible and transparent election. Specifically, it is aimed to concretize our fragile process of accreditation as the keystone of any suffrage. The concept, owing to its recent invention by INEC, a non-legislative body, traces its paternity to the Manual for Election Officials, 2015.

I should not end without pointing out the role of the legislature in all these. A trip down recent memory lane will reveal that in previous elections, the National Assembly either of its own accord, or at the instance of the Executive arm, amended the Electoral Act prior to elections to give legal backing to whatever innovations INEC introduced. Thus in 2010, the extant Electoral Act was passed in preparation for the 2011 general elections and prior to that, the Electoral Act 2006 was in place for the 2007 Elections and so on. One would therefore have expected a new Electoral Act for the 2015 elections or at least another amendment to give express legislative imprimatur to the card readers, permanent voters’ card and the other innovations introduced subsequent to the 2010 Electoral Act so as not to leave room for ambiguity and conjecture.

In the meantime, for the vast majority of Nigerians especially lawyers, there is need to make haste slowly before accusing the Tribunals of “a travesty of justice” or “legal summersault.” The unprecedented attack on the judiciary is an ill wind that blows no one any good. A judiciary absent in dignity is a recipe for total breakdown of law and order.

 

Orji Agwu Uka is a Lagos based Legal Practitioner and occasionally engages on Twitter as @OrjiUka

 

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If You Love Credible Elections, Then You Must Thank The Rivers State Governorship Tribunal By Chinedu Ekeke

At last, one Election Petitions Tribunal last Saturday rose to the defence of Nigeria’s democracy.

The tribunal empanelled to determine the issues and complaints that trailed the Rivers state governorship election, headed by the very Honourable Justice Suleiman Ambrosa, took a clear departure from the onslaught his colleagues in so many other governorship tribunals had been mounting on Nigeria’s efforts to deepen her democracy, with very laughable pronouncements.

In judgements that pretended that the matters before them were about 2003 or even 2007 elections, the judges completely disrespected the kernel of the historic 2015 elections: Card Readers and INEC’s guidelines on their use.

In a jurisdiction where lots of judges had been compromised by politicians in the past, it is difficult not to conclude that many of the tribunals sold justice to the highest bidder and thereafter sought to tie their judgements to technicalities.

Take as example the same case of Rivers state election tribunal. Justice Suleiman Ambrosa was not the original chairman of the panel. It used to be headed by a judge called Mu’azu Pindiga. But he was later removed by the President of Court of Appeal. (The Court of Appeal President is the officer who constitutes members of state election tribunals). And that removal was not for want of what to do. Sahara Reporters reported that Mr Pindiga was bribed by Nyesom Wike, the PDP governor of Rivers state whose declaration by INEC was being challenged by the APC candidate in the election. That report by Sahara Reporters stated that Pindiga was bribed with N200 million to thwart justice and uphold Wike’s election. The report also said that the Department of State Security had a proof of this bribery, and they showed it to the Court of Appeal President before he got convinced to remove Pindiga as the tribunal chairman.

Curiously, such publication bothers on defamation of character, and a judge so accused, if innocent, would be expected to seek redress in court. Justice Pindiga hasn’t uttered a word since then, which suggests admission of guilt. It is likely that the evidence against him is weighty, and to save himself further embarrassment, he took to silence, hoping the news gets forgotten soon.

You can tell that if Muazu Pindiga had been allowed to continue with the case, he would have upheld Nyesom Wike’s election – adjudged by both local and international observers to have fallen short of every known standard for a free and fair election. And in upholding it, he would have had the law as an easy excuse. ‘The petitioner could not prove his case beyond reasonable doubt’. And as has always happened in the past, the rest of us will be advised to look elsewhere for whom to blame, that the law is an ass, and that the justices of the tribunal did the right thing.

Since the judgements started pouring in, one could sense that some sections of the judiciary are reluctant to cleanse themselves of their immediate past; a past steeped in corruption.
It is inconceivable that with the success we made of the 2015 elections, certain tribunals boldly rejected a special recognition of the single factor behind the success of that election.

When Justice Theresa Egoche of the Ebonyi governorship petition tribunal was reading her judgement upholding the election of the PDP governor in the state, she made a strange pronouncement that would have been laughable, but for the seriousness of the matter. Her tribunal held that the INEC electoral guidelines were mere instructions and had no force of law against the offenders/defaulters and as such cannot be a ground to challenge an election. She noted that a breach in the electoral guideline as alleged by the petitioner cannot be a ground to nullify the election.

In other words, INEC guidelines should be discountenanced in an election that only INEC is the only lawfully empowered institution to organize. Nobody should bother to heed INEC’s rules. If you can kill everybody to get elected, please do; the courts are there to help you insist that only the wordings spelt out in the Electoral Act have the force of law. See how far people can go in trying to justify the unjustifiable!

Apart from Justice Theresa’s pronouncement, another tribunal of interest was that of Akwa Ibom. Ishaq Umar of the governorship petition tribunal, while reading his judgement of confusion, made a pronouncement that reduced the card readers to naught, dismissing INEC press statement that mandated the use of card readers as the only legitimate means of voter verification.

This judge declared before an open court, that INEC’s ‘’press release concerning the card reader report is null and void, as it offended (?) the provisions of Section 49 of the Electoral Act which deals with the process of accreditation in an election.’’

Of course he went ahead to nullify elections in 18 out of 31 local governments of the state, but remained silent on whether or not the governor – who doesn’t have the constitutionally required 25% of votes cast in two-third of the constituent LGAs of the state – should vacate seat or not. In a state with 31 LGAs, a governor needs to have scored 25% of votes cast in at least 20 Local Governments, as well as the majority of valid votes cast, before being declared winner.

Let’s ignore the error and move into his reasoning of INEC’s guidelines being a nullity.

There are two issues here: INEC Press Release concerning Card Reader use and provisions of Section 49 of Electoral Act.

Now, the Press Release in question is the one by INEC, emphasizing the content of its published Manual For Election Officials wherein it insisted that voter accreditation would only be performed with the use of Card Readers. A judge declared that null and void. And then his reason for so doing was that it contravened Section 49.

First, the bedrock of voting is voter verification. If a voter is not verified, how will an electoral officer know that he registered in the particular polling unit where he wants to cast his ballot? It is the process of this verification that is called accreditation. During accreditation, the

INEC presiding officer wants to first ascertain that you are the true owner of your voter’s card and that the Polling Unit where you intend to cast your vote is actually where you registered to vote. INEC also wants to make it impossible for people to vote in more than one polling unit. In summary, the idea was to institute the practice of one man, one vote. To achieve this, INEC insisted, for the sake of transparency, that it would perform its accreditation with the help of technology.

And in doing that, INEC derived its powers from Section 153 of the Electoral Act. Here’s what that Section says; ‘The commission (INEC) may, subject to the provisions of this Act, issue regulations, guidelines, or manuals for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this

Act and for its administration thereof.’

From the above, we can agree that INEC has the powers to make guidelines.

Let’s then look at Section 49 which the Akwa Ibom tribunal claimed INEC’s guidelines contravened.

49 (1). Any person intending to vote with his voter’s card, shall present himself to a Presiding Officer at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered with his voter’s card.
(2) The Presiding Officer shall, on being satisfied that the name of the person is on the Register of Voters, issue him a ballot paper and indicate on the register that the person has voted.

There’s no provision as to ‘how’ to be satisfied in this Section. INEC, with sixteen years’ experience of voter verification had become certain that the capacity of some Nigerian politicians for mischief was limitless.  The Commission had conducted many elections that turned out to lack credibility because of cases of impersonation during accreditation. This led to their decision to convince the Nigerian government to invest massively in technology to aid in voter verification during the 2015 election; hence the introduction of Card Reader.

The card reader machine is a device used to scan the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to confirm its ownership by the presenter. It stores the voter’s information such as physical attributes, thumb prints and others. These information can only be read and accessed electronically

with the card reader. If you throw away the card reader, the permanent voter’s card is useless, because the information it has cannot be read/accessed by just looking at it with your eyes.

It was for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Section 49 that INEC insisted on procuring the ‘’how’’ of satisfying their officers that a voter’s name is in the voter’s register.

How then did the use of technology to verify voters contravene a section of the Electoral Act that gives INEC officers the powers to allow only those verified as having their names in the register to vote? How does enhancing the electoral process contravene the Electoral Act?

And, in any case, what is wrong with the INEC guidelines? Will any party in the election get hurt if INEC properly accredits voters first before allowing them to vote?

From the standpoint of the society, will it hurt Nigeria to insist that only genuine voters be allowed to vote? Why should anybody seeking to govern any part of Nigeria have issues with INEC’s rules insisting that only those properly accredited will be allowed to vote?

To underscore the weight of the powers INEC has to issue guidelines and rules for elections, the Supreme Court in 2011, in the case between CPC Vs INEC, declared; “By force of law, the Independent National Electoral Commission has the duty of conducting elections.  Besides the constitutional provisions, it is guided by the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the Election guidelines and Manual issued for its officials in accordance with the Act.  These documents embody all steps to comply with in the conduct of a free, fair and hitch free election.”

The Supreme Court has the final say on these issues, and it already had said that in 2011. By next year when these cases drag to the apex court, the Justices there will be bound by the earlier pronouncements of the same court. The Supreme Court will not reverse itself, especially when doing so will make mockery of the efforts of the entire nation for democratic evolution.

Our yearnings for credible elections is facing its final battle in the hands of the judiciary. It survived the other two tiers of government before the election. The executive under President Goodluck Jonathan initiated it. The legislature approved of it. Some elements in the judiciary are bent on frustrating it. This is why the Supreme Court has a duty to save the country from receding into the dark days of massive electoral fraud by the political class.

But while we await the apex court to play this patriotic role, we must first thank the progressive judges of the Rivers governorship tribunal for their foresight and the courage to do the right thing. At the end of the day, it will become clear to those who still doubt the soundness of the judgement that it was the best thing that happened to the 2015 elections, after Card Reader itself.

Chinedu Ekeke can be directly engaged on twitter as @Nedunaija

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