In what appears to be the height of an arro-
gant and flagrant display of inordinate power
and judicial recklessness, the Rivers State Election Tribunal recently decided, rather unilaterally, to move its business to Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, alleging security concerns.
This would be the second time or so that an election tribunal in Rivers State would, against public outcry, be relocating to Abuja, purportedly for the same reasons. Knowing how the first one played out and the scandal that followed, people can only worry over the repeat.
Granted that the security of lives and property of the citizenry and not just of the tribunal is a very serious issue that requires urgent and critical action, the decision of the tribunal to move to Abuja, when there is hardly any visible threat to it in the State, leaves much to be desired.
Indeed, the manner, the speed and finality with which the tribunal took the obviously unholy decision clearly envinces the Biblical hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. Herein lies the implication of the relocation which needs to be fully understood.
As expected, unpleasant reactions have since greeted the tribunal’s decision which has come to be seen as purely a replay of the same scenario that gave impetus to the outcome of elections petitions brought before the erstwhile tribunal which were severely criticised by many highly placed legal pundits and the apex court.
The Tide joins all well meaning Nigerians to condemn the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja. For all intent and purposes, there is more to this decision than meet the ordinary eye. This is more so as the general understanding now is that some vested political interests may be at work, hence, a few officials of the Federal Government may be playing the ostrich.
As it is, the tribunal’s movement to the FCT gives the erroneous impression that Rivers State is unsafe for civil activities. With the oil majors and other multinational and transnational corporations peacefully at work, the federal and state establishments doing normal business, and the full complement of Nigeria’s security apparatus on ground, one wonders what level of security concern that should warrant the election petitions tribunal of just a few persons to relocate to Abuja.
What is more mischievous? As far as some Federal Government operatives are concerned, the North Eastern States, where Boko Haram insurgents continue to kill innocent Nigerians daily, are safer than Rivers State. We wonder if election tribunals in those states would be relocated to Abuja.
True, Rivers State like other States in Nigeria, has had its fair share of security challenges. But to try to call Rivers a bad name is to blame the Federal Government, the security agencies and the political elite for failing to provide security for the good people of Rivers State.
It is also to insinuate that no where in Rivers State is safe. It is laughable. The tribunal ought to sit in Port Harcourt where other local, national and international agencies operate without molestation. The tribunal will sit in the trenches or flashpoints of crisis, but in Port Harcourt, where its safety is guaranteed.
Let it be noted that Rivers people cannot be fooled all the time as the matter, everyone knows, is political. But what it does is to make unsafe, costly, and almost impossible for Rivers sons and daughters to get justice. That is to say that those who cannot afford the endless trips to Abuja for a simple electoral matter would be denied the right to fair hearing.
Rivers politicians should be mature enough to accept defeat and let the state move forward. This idea of taking the resources of Rivers people out and washing our dirty linens outside must stop. Politics should be for the good of the people and elections are decided by people. Twice, the people of Rivers State have spoken through the ballot. Why should strangers decide who serves the Rivers people?
The Tide does not want to believe that some persons want to make Rivers State ungovernable and will not care how many people die because they are not in control of political power in the State.
Even as the people have shown patience, even in the face of prolonged and avoidable sponsorship of violence, Rivers people should not be taken for granted. The actors are well known and the roles each plays is known and it will be better no one closes the door against oneself politically. Enough is enough.
In what appears to be the height of an arro-