Politic - The Problem Face By Leaders For Office
The Problem Face By Leaders For Office. The 2011 general polls presented interesting scenarios. Those, who got elected had to wage a series of battles on many fronts – intra-party, inter-party and at The law courts.
Some of them including President Goodluck Jonathan had to survive high-wire intrigues and politicking to pick The tickets of their various political parties before facing other candidates at The polls. Across The 36 states of The federation, most of The governors, who emerged did not have it easy.
And some of The battles are still being waged at The law courts. Last Friday, The Supreme Court gave Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, a clean bill of health and an Abuja Federal High Court handed Enugu State Governor, Chief Sullivan Chime, a similar reprieve last week. One year after, The effects of these battles are still being felt in The polity in The form of little or non-delivery of democracy dividends.
TO mount The saddle of power in Aso Rock, President Jonathan fought and won a host of political and legal battles. First, as Vice President, a ruling clique in The Presidency, For a while, prevented him from functioning as acting president when late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was terminally ill and was flown to Saudi Arabia For medication. Yar-Adua was flown out in November 2009 without handing over to Jonathan. The nation remained without a leader For three months as The controversy and debate over The issue lasted.
The Senate had to break The ice in February 2010, employing The Doctrine of Necessity. It legislated that Jonathan should be sworn-in as acting President pending The return of President Yar’Adua. It also made a law that providing that once The president or governor is out of The country or state For 21 days, The vice president or deputy governor will assume The position of acting president or acting governor respectively..
As acting president, Jonathan never reverted to The post of vice president. Yar’Adua was flown into The country worse than he was before he was flown out and he was too ill to resume presidential duties. He died a few days later and Jonathan was effectively sworn-in as president.
That over, The Otuoke, Bayelsa State-born politician had to face, arguably, The toughest political battle of his life when he wanted to run For The presidency. A group of leading Northern Politicians under The banner of Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) led by Malam Adamu Ciroma, said his running would hurt The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) zoning formula, which in their view, ceded The presidential seat to The North For eight years. They wanted Jonathan to parry his ambition and allow a northerner emerge as PDP candidate and thereafter be elected as president to complete The North and late President Yar’Adua’s second term of four years as two years had already been lost.
Jonathan was to insist on his constitutional right to run. The NPLF got northern presidential aspirants aspiring on The platform of The ruling party to agree on pursuing The option of a consensus northern presidential candidate, who would meet Jonathan at The PDP presidential primaries. The move had The blessing of Generals Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Aliyu Gusau (rtd), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Dr Bukola Saraki. At The end, Atiku Abubakar was chosen as The ‘consensus candidate’ by a committee of ‘nine wise men’. He squared up against Jonathan at The PDP primaries and was beaten squarely.
Consequently, The stage For The third political battle – election proper, was set For Jonathan, where he had to battle veteran Presidential Candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of The Congress For Progressive Change (CPC); Nuhu Ribadu of The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); and Ibrahim Shekarau of The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) among others. With over 25 million votes to Buhari’s 12 million (Buhari was his closest challenger), Jonathan recorded a landslide victory.
As expected Buhari went to court to challenge Jonathan’s victory. However, on December 27, 2011, The Supreme Court, in Abuja, affirmed The decision of The Court of Appeal and upheld The victory of President Jonathan at polls.
Unanimously, The apex court held that The CPC failed to discharge The burden of proof placed upon it by The Electoral Act to prove its allegation that The Independent National Election Commission, INEC, did not conduct The election according to The provisions of The law.
Akpabio, Chime, Uduaghan and Akpabio
In The lead judgment, which was read by Justice Olufunmilayo Adekeye, The court held that CPC’s allegation of non-compliance was not proven and that The burden did not shift to The electoral body or any of The respondents, to prove that The allegation of non-compliance was enough to have affected The outcome of The election.
Battle of intrigues in The states
In The states, most of The governors, who got elected did so with The skin of their teeth. On account of litigations and different dates of swearing-in, The April 2011 gubernatorial elections did not hold in 10 states. Elections For The 10 states were to be held only when The four year tenure of The governors ran out. As of April 2011, The governors of Adamawa, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Ondo, Osun and Sokoto states had served less than four years due to their taking Office only after nullification of The election of former incumbents.
Thus, only 26 states had governorship elections then. The general guber election was on April 26 and The second (Kaduna and Bauchi) was on April 28.
How it went in The South-East
With The election in Anambra having been held in 2010, only four of The five South-East states – Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo witnessed guber polls in 2011.
In Abia, Governor Orji, who first decamped from The Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) to The All Progressives Grand Alliance and later to The PDP, a few days to The election, faced a massive discontent before picking The PDP ticket. Orji had to resolve a post-2007 face-off with Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, who flew The PDP flag in 2007 and lost The polls to Orji, who ran on The banner of The PPA. But The governor still had a tough nut in Chief Ikechi Emenike, who claimed he was The authentic PDP flagbearer For The 2011 polls. The matter was resolved last Friday by The Supreme Court in favour of Orji.
Ikechi had challenged The validity of a parallel primary that saw Orji emerge as The PDP standard bearer. Whereas, Emenike won The primary conducted by The Abia State PDP Exco, Orji emerged from a congress organised by The National Executive Committee of The party and both exercises were monitored by The INEC as required by law.
Aside emerging from an alleged kangaroo process, Emenike told The court that Orji was not a member of The PDP and he did not submit any nomination form For The election or any membership card of The PDP, which was one of The requirements in The nomination form.
However, The courts, at all levels, took sides with Orji. In a lead judgment last Friday, Justice John Afolabi Fabiyi of The Supreme Court maintained that The lower courts did a nice job by affirming The governor’s victory. It held that only The NEC of a political party had The powers to nominate a candidate to be sponsored For any given electoral contest.
Governor Chime of Enugu faced a similar battle. En route The polls, The Enugu PDP became factionalised with The then PDP National Chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo leading one camp and Chime leading The other. Both camps had parallel candidates and efforts to reunite them proved abortive. Nwodo lost his PDP headship a few weeks to The elections and The Chime camp was to have The upper hand, forcing The other faction to go court.
Justice Adamu Bello of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, last week, declined jurisdiction and dismissed The suit seeking to set aside The primary that produced Chime as The PDP candidate.
Chief Alexander Chukwuemeka Obiechina, one of The aspirants at The party’s gubernatorial primary held last January instituted The suit. He challenged The validity of The party’s primary through which Chime emerged as The party’s flag bearer in The last gubernatorial election which The governor won.
The INEC, during The trial, had agreed with Chief Obiechina to The effect that The governorship primaries of The PDP in Enugu State, which produced The governor as The party’s flag bearer, did not comply with The relevant provisions of The Electoral Act, 2011.
The court in its decision held that what transpired at The party’s primary could best be considered as an intra-party affair, which The court had no power to interfere with. The court further held that it lacked The requisite jurisdiction to wade into The matter and subsequently upheld The preliminary objection filed by Governor Chime and The PDP.
In Imo, Governor Rochas Okorocha of APGA had a handful before stopping incumbent Chief Ikedi Ohakim of The PDP from being re-elected. After a testy and tight duel on April 26, 2011, there was no clear winner. A supplementary election was held on May 6, 2011 in some councils where The April 26 polls were inconclusive before Okorocha narrowly emerged victorious. Ohakim challenged The results and after a long legal combat, The Supreme Court on March 2, 2012, affirmed Okorocha as The winner of The polls.
In a unanimous judgment, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta struck out PDP’s appeal against Okorocha For lack of merit. He declared The judgment of The Court of Appeal, which was The basis of The appeal a nullity because reasons For The judgment were given outside The 60 days allowed under Section 287 of The 1999 Constitution as amended.
Governor Martins Elechi of Ebonyi State had no problems retaining The PDP ticket. His headache was at The election proper, where Julius Ucha of The ANPP, among others, gave him sleepless nights. After The INEC returned Elechi as winner, Ucha kicked and dragged Elechi to court, from The election tribunal through The Court of Appeal and finally to The Supreme Court. However, The Supreme Court, early March, upheld The decision of The Appeal Court and declared that Governor Elechi was duly elected during The April 2011 governorship election in The state.
Of The six states of The South-South, only Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers witnessed guber polls in April 2011. The trio of Bayelsa, Cross River and Edo states were on stand-by then.
Governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) and Emmanuel Uduaghan did not have problems reclaiming The PDP tickets.
However, while Amaechi had an easy ride at The polls in spite of litigation from some of his opponents, The scenario was markedly different For Akpabio and Uduaghan, who weathered a testy challenge from Great Ogboru of The Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). In fact, Uduaghan faced two guber polls in four months – a re-run election on January 6 and The April 26 exercise and won both. Ogboru challenged The outcome of both elections at The law courts and Uduaghan still emerged victorious.
The Supreme Court on March 2, upheld The victory of Governor Uduaghan in The April 26, 2011 governorship election. It dismissed on technical grounds, The petition of Ogboru, who had gone to The apex Court to challenge The earlier ruling of The Appeal Court in Benin.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, The Supreme Court nullified The judgment of The Benin Division of The Court of Appeal, which formed The kernel of Ogboru’s appeal and instead upheld The judgment of The Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal, which had earlier ruled that Uduaghan won The election.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment, noted that The appeal court on January 5, 2012, gave its pronouncement but reserved details of The judgment For another date, which it gave on January 27, 2012.
However, Justice Mohammed held that The Court of Appeal had no power to defer reasons For its judgment on a governorship election petition matter since it was not The last court of competent jurisdiction on governorship election matters.
In The case of Akpabio, The ACN candidate, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, on May 8, 2012 got The Supreme Court to order The tribunal to re-try The case, which Akpabio had earlier won at The lower courts. Ruling on Akpanudoedehe appeal, The apex court held that substantial justice rather than technicalities should be considered in arriving at The merit of The case.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria [CJN], Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who headed The five_man panel of Justices For The appeal lampooned Judges who sacrificed substantial justice on The alter of technicalities. Other members of The panel who agreed with The CJN were Justice Walter Onnogen; John Fabiyi; Funke Adekeye and Mary Odili.
As it was in South-West
Like South-South, there were no guber elections in three (Osun, Ekiti and Ondo) states of The South-West geo-political zone. Polls were only held in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo where ACN candidates overran their PDP opponents to make The zone an opposition haven. In Lagos, once Governor Babatunde Fashola got The nod of The ACN hierarchy to run after an initial foot-dragging, The road was paved For him to retain his seat at The Alausa Round House. Also, Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Abiola Ajimobi (Ogun) made their marks also.
The knive-edge battle in North-Central
In North-Central geo-political zone, there was no election in Kogi on April 26. And in The remaining five states were The polls were held, The PDP had The upper hand in four via (Abdul-Fatai Ahmed, Kwara); Jonah David Jang, Plateau); Mu’Azu Babangida Aliyu, Niger); and Gabriel Suswam, Benue) while Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of The Congress For Progressive Change (CPC) won in Nasarawa State. In Kwara, Ahmed with The backing of his predecessor, Dr Bukola Saraki prevented The stronman of Kwara politics, Dr Olusola Saraki from deciding who emerged as governor in over 40 years. The elder Saraki wanted her daughter, Gbemi as governor but his son, Bukola rooted For Ahmed, who carried The day in The end.
Among The lot, Suswam still has a legal axe to grind with his main opponent, Professor Steven Ugbah of The ACN. The Supreme Court on May 8, ordered The retrial of Ugbah’s petitions by The State Governorship election petition tribunal, which had earlier turned down The petition on technical excuses. The CJN gave The ruling on The day he ordered retrial of Akpanudoedehe’s case.
Delivering ruling on The appeal in Abuja, The apex court was unanimous in its decision that substantial justice rather than technicalities should be considered in arriving at The merit of The case.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Markudi had dismissed The petition of Prof. Ugbah against Suswam’s victory on The grounds that The petitioner did not seek The leave of The tribunal before bringing his motion exparte For The pre_trial session.
The PDP had approached The Appeal Court challenging what it described as ACN’s improper mode of activating pre_trial, contending that Professor Ugbah and his party did not seek leave of The tribunal before bringing The motion For pre_trial.
In her judgment, Justice .U. Onyemenan held that Ugbah and The ACN did not actually seek The leave of The tribunal before bringing The exparte motion For pre_trial in accordance with Section 47 of The first schedule of The Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. Justice Onyemenan therefore declared The ruling of 29th June, 2011 delivered by The lower tribunal to hear The ACN petition on its merit as a nullity and resolved The matter in favour of The PDP
Miffed by The miscarriage of justice by The election tribunal judges, The Justice Dahiru Musdapher-led apex court held that it was wrong For The Court of Appeal to apply mere technicalities rather than going into The merit of The petition.
North-East’s dusty battles
In The North-East, The ruling parties lived up to expectation winning in their areas of dominance after dusty duels with their opponents. There was no election in Adamawa in April 2011. For The remaining five states, while The PDP won in three – Bauchi (Isa Yuguda); Taraba (Danbaba Suntai) and Gombe (Ibrahim Dankwambo), The ANPP retained two – Borno (Kashim Shettima) and Yobe (Ibrahim Gaidam), who was being elected For The first time as governor, having assumed Office two years earlier on The death of The former governor, Senator Ali Mamman. Issues arising from The contests have been trashed at The courts.
North-West: ANPP’s last-ditch challenge in Zamfara
There are seven states in The North-West geo-political zone. Before The elections, The ANPP was in control of Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi, leaving only Jigawa, Kaduna and Katsina For The PDP. But few months to The polls, The governors of Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto defected to The PDP, leaving only Kano For The ANPP.
The defections and controversies trailing them prepared The stage For tough guber contests in The zone apart from Sokoto where there was no election in April 2011. The PDP via Dr Rabiu Kwakwanso staged a return to The Government House in Kano after an eight-year hiatus. Kwakwanso was governor of The state between 1999 and 2003 before losing The seat to Shekarau of The ANPP.
While Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Saidu Dakingari (Kebbi), Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa (Kaduna) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) retained their states For The PDP, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi of Zamfara State could not do so For his new party. He was trounced by his son-in-law, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari of The ANPP, who refused to defect with him to The PDP.
While Yari polled 514,962 votes Shinkafi scored 460,656 votes. A dissatisfied Shinkafi approached The courts to overturn Yari’s victory but his prayers were not answered. Upholding Yari’s election in a ruling last February, Justice Muntakar Commassie of The apex court said that both The Zamfara State Elections Petitions Tribunal and The Court of Appeal did sufficient justice to The petition and aligned himself with it.
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