By Casmir Igbokwe
Hope! Justice! These two words have suddenly taken a prime place in Nigerian lexicon. The Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal made this possible. Last Friday, the tribunal ruled that Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party won the September 2018 governorship election in Osun.
The three-man tribunal ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not substantially comply with the Electoral Act 2010 in the conduct of the run-off in 17 polling units. Hence, the electoral umpire, it noted, wrongly declared Adegboyega Oyetola of the ruling All Progressives Congress as the winner of the election. It said INEC should realise that “it holds an office of public trust and should at all times, strive to maintain the sanctity of the electoral practice.” Since this ruling, many Osun citizens have out-danced the antelope in their ecstatic bid to celebrate the victory.
Every honest follower of the Osun governorship election knows that Adeleke suffered grave injustice during the exercise. He was leading and was already beginning to clink glasses when INEC declared elections in some polling units inconclusive. It ordered a rerun. That rerun was massively compromised. As various credible reports indicated, the security agents, apparently at the instance of the APC, intimidated and scared away many supporters of the PDP. That was how the victory table turned and the APC candidate, Oyetola, won.
In some of my earlier interventions on this page, I had denounced this abracadabra of an election. I am not an Osun citizen. Neither do I have any stake in the election. But injustice to one is injustice to all.
This same abracadabra has played out in some of the states where supplementary elections were held last Saturday. Kano is a typical example. Thugs were the overlords this time, and they reportedly unleashed violence on the state. My happiness is that we still have a judiciary that can right the many wrongs inherent in our frail democracy.
In 2003, for instance, Mr. Peter Obi contested the governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State. But INEC declared Obi’s opponent and then PDP candidate, Chris Ngige, as winner. The Court of Appeal upturned Ngige’s victory in March 2006. Obi assumed office on March 17, 2006 only to be impeached by the state House of Assembly in November of the same year. He challenged his impeachment at the Court of Appeal in Enugu and won. He came back as governor on February 9, 2007 and eventually completed his second tenure on March 17, 2014.
Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, is also a beneficiary of this type of justice. Amaechi had won the PDP governorship primaries in 2007, but the party substituted him with Celestine Omehia over allegations of graft. Amaechi felt short-changed. He went to court. Though Omehia won and was sworn in as governor in May 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that Amaechi not Omehia was the legitimate candidate of the PDP. In October 2007, Amaechi reclaimed his mandate. He was to later complete his second term as governor of Rivers State.
This is the beauty of democracy. The powers that be can manipulate the system as they like. But the judiciary, as the last hope of the people, can restore justice.
Luckily, we have done away with military rule. They are only being used in the current dispensation to snatch ballot boxes and intimidate voters during elections. But the courts are there to dispense justice. And with what happened in the Osun election petition tribunal, there is hope that justice will be done in the Atiku Abubakar versus Muhammadu Buhari presidential election petition case.
Re: Nigeria’s militocracy: The more you look…
Democracy is the best human kind has been able to contrive. It got its origin from the Greek type of communal ownership and address of State issues. Modern man through Abraham Lincoln, away from how Socrates and his fellow philosophers conceived democracy, now said: it is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Even then, there were people of the state specially trained to fight and defend the state from all serious adversities called the military. Such people don’t have anything to do with state affairs in terms of the day to day administration of the state because they are not trained for that.
Since time immemorial, the military has its place in human history. We hear of the tactics of Fabius Cunctator of Rome after they were defeated by the Carthaginiaus with the expertise of Haninibal and Hamilcar Barca at Transimene in 217 B. C. the Romans through Fabius Cunctator and later Scipio Africanus where Cunctator introduced his new famous war tactics of blocking up the enemy’s supply lines at the same time avoiding further pitched battles, and depriving the enemy of any help in order to defeat them.
In political philosophy, we had the opportunity of learning about Gen. Ireton of Great Britain and Col. Rainboro whose ideas greatly influenced the barracks system for the military.
Now we ask, where is our own military apart from planning and carrying out coups and counter coups? It all started with Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu in 1966 whose innocent and very pure heart moved him to question the morality of the founders of our State, Nigeria.
To abridge the unattractive story, this is the second coming of a coup expert in the name of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. He had attempted to take the presidency twice. In his second attempt when he was defeated by Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, hell was let loose where he ordered that all “kaferi” – non believers of Allah, must die. So, seven National Youth Corp members were killed in cold blood in Minna, Niger State. An electoral Commissioner in Kano, together with all members of his family, were burnt to death in his home. The Chairman of INEC, at that time, Attahiru Jega’s house was torched and all his belongings destroyed. For all these and many more, Jega changed style and tactics, more-so with the introduction of Boko Haram as a way to actualise their jingoistic and hegemonic agenda, thus favouring Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 Presidential Election.
As it is said, the feature of an educated mind is the reasonableness it impacts on the recipient. Does the military truly understand the political dangers of snatching ballot boxes containing votes of the citizens? It was very obvious that all the boxes snatched and the votes carted away were for the ruling party whom the military was working for.
Some drama happened in my home town – Ogu. After a very peaceful election, soldiers, sent by the government started gathering around the Local Government Secretariat. They had their armoured personnel vehicles stationed at both ends of the secretariat main gate. Then the already collated result started to come into the secretariat accompanied by the election officials. Then, it was echoed very much that the head of the ruling party who was disqualified by the court along with her party in the state became so interested in the result that she came around to take all the results to Port Harcourt for the reason we could not fathom. Then all the women of the other party, perhaps the ruling Party in the state, came out to challenge her. The Army had a re-enforcement but they could not stop the women who were very desperate to make sure that the leading woman (a National House of Representatives candidate of the ruling party) did not succeed in her desperate mission to tamper with the results. The women, at a point, stripped half naked to face the Army, who, seeing them, retreated.
At the neighbouring Okrika, just a few days before the 9th of March, 2019 election, armed soldiers broke into King Ateke Tom’s home, destroyed the wall television and other personal effects in the home, shot a man and a dog dead and also destroyed so many other things in the home. The reason for all these, they did not tell anybody. Is it what we will regard as Militocracy? Nigeria, can we survive at all in the face of all these?
Marcus Anga, email@example.com
In future elections, government should provide enabling environment for Nigeria police force and other security agencies to manage security situation rather than bringing in Nigerian army. My advice to Nigerian youths is, don’t allow politicians to use you for political gain.
Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
The sham Presidential Election of 2019 is General Muhammadu Buhari’s second coup d’état against democracy in Nigeria. All his saintly postures are contrived deceit and hypocrisy. But who is to bell the cat?
Manasseh Nwachukwu, Imo State, 08034365391
Casmir, God bless you for defending the truth and God bless Dr Orji Kalu for allowing you write the truth in his paper. Of truth, this is the worst election. APC used INEC and security agencies to disenfranchise PDP strongholds and now ‘inconclusive’ deception.
Rev Ukpo, Calabar, +2348056451118
The way some columnists like you as well as other Nigerians demonise the military one might think that they were not Nigerians or that they came from other planet. The military personnel are our fathers, sons, uncles, brothers and sisters. They are, as much, if not more, interested in the unity and peace of this country. Without the presence of the military in some parts of the country during the elections, there will definitely be mayhem. Or do you think there will be free elections in Rivers State with the presence of the police alone?
- First published in The Sun of Monday, March 25, 2019