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Court of Appeal endorses removal of Gov Idris from office

Posted by From GODWIN TSA Abuja on 2008/02/08 | Views: 833 |

Court of Appeal endorses removal of Gov Idris from office


The Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld the nullification of the April 14, 2007 governorship election that brought the Kogi State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris into office.

…Orders fresh election within 90 days

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld the nullification of the April 14, 2007 governorship election that brought the Kogi State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris into office.

Following this verdict, the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Chief Clarence Olafemi, has been sworn in as acting governor.

In a unanimous decision, the appellate court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh governorship election in the state within 90 days, with the candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Prince Abubakar Audu as a contestant.

By the provisions of Section 246 of the 1999 Constitution, the Court of Appeal is the final arbiter on governorship elections.
Upholding the October 10, 2007 decision of the state’s election petition tribunal, Justice Victor Omoge, with six other justices of the Court of Appeal, held that the right of Audu and the ANPP to participate in the governorship election was infringed upon by the INEC.

The court took a swipe at INEC for turning itself to a judicial body.
Omoge, while berating INEC for the unlawful exclusion of Audu, held that the alleged indictment of the ANPP candidate for fraud by the federal and Kogi state governments, which formed the basis for his exclusion, was unknown to the law.

Making reference to the authority of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Rotimi Amaechi V INEC, Omage stated that only a competent court of law could indict and bar candidates, adding that the indictment by administrative or judicial panel of inquiry could not be self-executory.
He also said that the tribunal did not question provisions of Section 182 (1) of the Constitution, but merely applied the correct interpretation of the section while delivering judgment on Audu’s petition.
The court held that INEC was in error of Sections 134 (1) and 147 of the Electoral Act, as well as Section 182 of the 1999 Constitution.

Besides, it was also the position of the Court of Appeal that Audu had fulfilled the entire requirement to participate in the election, and that his party was equally qualified to sue over his exclusion.
Before the judgment, counsel to Idris, Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), had argued that the INEC, in disqualifying Audu from contesting the state governorship election acted on the judgment of the court.
Counsel to Audu, Dr. Alex Izinyon SAN, however, said that INEC was wrong to have gone ahead to conduct the election when the decision of the court of appeal was already being challenged at the Supreme appeal Court.

Izinyon said the electoral body should have waited for the decision of the apex court before going ahead to conduct the election.

In his submission, counsel to INEC, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), told the court that the electoral body had already fixed a date for the election and could not have waited for the apex court to make pronouncement on the matter, since it would destabilized the April 14, 2007 polls.

Meanwhile, about five hours after the verdict had been delivered on Wednesday, there was confusion in the Kogi State House of Assembly on whether or not the Speaker, Chief Olafemi, whose election was also nullified late last year by the tribunal, would be sworn in as the acting governor. When the House converged it had to hurriedly adjourned as members were sharply divided on the issue.

Daily Sun gathered that, the Deputy Speaker, who was formerly a commissioner in the state and who is from the same political axis as the sacked was tipped to be sworn in as governor, but the Okun Yoruba-speaking caucus, from which the Speaker hails, was said to have thwarted the effort. They argued that even if it was for 24 hours, Olafemi should be the governor as was stipulated by the constitution.
However, it was mixed feelings in Lokoja over the removal of Idris.

While the ANPP and AC supporters jubilated the PDP supporters and political office holders wore gloomy faces. The situation at the Government House was calm and staffers were seen discussing the development in low tones.

The AC again hailed the judiciary for its fairness, fearlessness and steadfastness after the Court of Appeal upheld the nullification of the election of Idris.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said, however, that the efforts of the judiciary to help restore sanity to the country’s electoral process would be in vain, as long as Maurice Prof Iwu remains the INEC chairman.
The party said: The Nigerian judiciary has become the toast of Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike, because of its ability to rise above the widespread rot in the system and dispense justice without fear or favour.

“Other arms of the government should play their own role in ensuring that the country evolves a credible and transparent electoral system that will be the reference point in Africa and around the world.
“Unfortunately, this cannot happen for as long as the powers that be believe that Iwu should remain at the helms in INEC.

The question then becomes: Who will organise the fresh elections being ordered?
“If the answer is Iwu’s INEC, then we will be back to square one as the chairman will only ensure a repeat of the sham election of 2007, by perpetuating his warped belief that the last elections were well conducted.’’

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.