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INEC And Imo Governorship Case

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Nduka Madu

 

It is now approximately thirty months since the good people of lmo State gave Chief Martin Agbaso, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) an overwhelming mandate to govern them for four years. Thirty months after, the question on the lips of the preponderant majority of lmo men and women today is how much longer will they have to wait for justice to be done to them?

When the Court of Appeal sitting at Abuja decided, on the 26th of February, 2007, that it has jurisdiction to hear Chief Agbaso’s appeal, the people of lmo State heaved a big sigh of relief in the belief that at last the matter was coming to a head. This was especially so as the court was undeterred by the spirited attempts made by the legal representation of both INEC and Chief Ohakim to use technicalities to once again scuttle Chief Agbaso’s bid to be heard. The court held with remarkable resoluteness, that the twin issue of whether INEC had power under the law to cancel the April 14 Elections in the circumstances and in the manner in which it did, had not been pronounced upon or even addressed by any court. Both INEC and Chief Ohakim’s legal teams speedily headed for the Supreme Court to continue their challenge of the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction to hear Chief Agbaso’s appeal.

Chief Agbaso’s lead counsel, arguing that the Agbaso case was time bound, tried desperately but without success, to persuade the Court of Appeal to allow the parties to adopt their briefs which had all been filed by then, so that whenever the Supreme Court ruled on the Appeal Court’s jurisdiction, a date for judgment on the substantive suit would be fixed and so expedite the process. The court’s position was that it was established law that once a matter had gone before the Supreme Court, proceedings on the matter in all subsidiary courts must cease pending the Supreme Court’s decision or direction on it.

In the spirit of the urgency demanded by the Agbaso suit, the Supreme Court quickly fixed the hearing of the case in the hope that an accelerated hearing would be given to the matter. But on the day of hearing, the INEC and Chief Ohakim’s camps came with new motions which they deliberately neglected to file so that they could get time elongation to file them which they indeed got. Chief Agbaso’s lead counsel wasted no time in alerting the court that the game plan of the opposition was to delay and prolong proceedings for as long as possible so as to prolong the illegal stay of Chief Ohakim in office. The presiding justice promptly gave the assurance that the court would take adequate steps to ensure that proceedings were not unnecessarily delayed. It was therefore surprising to the Agbaso camp when the court fixed a four and half month adjournment. When Chief Agbaso’s lead counsel protested, the presiding judge promptly assured him that the September 29 date which the court had fixed for the next hearing of the case was in fact the earliest possible date the matter could be heard.

This was because the court would be proceeding on its annual recess in July. Besides, it had at least four pending judgements to write and deliver before the court went on vacation.

Four and half months have now sped past and September 29, 2009 is now around the corner. The question now is: will the Ohakim and lNEC camps be prepared to proceed or will they conjure up new devices for obtaining more elongation of the proceedings? The fact of the matter is that they know that they cannot successfully challenge the facts of Chief Agbaso’s case. As a member of their legal team confided, there is no doubt that lNEC had no legal grounds on which to base its decision to annul the April 14 Imo State Governorship elections. So, their game plan from the beginning has been and still continues to be, to use all the legal technicalities they can muster to delay the hearing of the substantial case. Their hope is that they will succeed in stalling the conclusion of the case well beyond the three years Chief Ngige remained illegally in office in Anambra State to enable Chief Ohakim serve, if not the full four years, at least long beyond the three years Ngige served. The question is, will they succeed?

It will be a travesty of justice of unimaginable proportions were that to happen. To begin with, the Court of Appeal had ruled on February 26, 2009 that the April 28 election, on the basis of which Chief Ohakim assumed and remains in office, ought not to have been held ab initio. What this means is that the election that ostensibly brought him to power is invalid. That being so, his tenure is invalid and so he should be made to vacate the office of Governor of Imo State without further delay. The issue has even been compounded and made much worse for Chief Ohakim by his defection from the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, on the platform of which he contested the invalid April 28th election. So, not only quote the April 28 election by which he rules declared invalid, he has also lost the platform on which he could stand to argue his case to be allowed to remain in office. Indeed, a case can now be made for striking out Chief Ohakim’s appeal on the ground that he has lost his locus on the basis of which he was entitled to enter the appeal. However, any such move will only serve to prolong the current proceedings and play into the hands of those who wish the proceedings could continue till 2011.

Now that the long awaited September 29,2009 had arrived, nothing should – be done which should have the effect of further prolonging the determination of the key question which Chief Agbaso has been asking to be answered these past thirty months; which is, “Did lNEC have power under the law to cancel the Imo State Governorship elections validly held on April 14, 2007, the results of which had been fully collated in all the twenty-seven LGAs of the state and duly announced in at least twenty-four of the twenty-seven L.G.A. Collation Centres of the state”. If the answer to that question is no, then the results already collated should be assembled and a winner for that election declared.

Madu wrote in from Owerri

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CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda

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The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.

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Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls

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The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to  lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.

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2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear

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Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule”  to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

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