Hope for Justice in Kogi State as Kogites Await Verdict of the Supreme Court
On the 21st November 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted Gubernatorial Election in Kogi State. The two major contenders in the Kogi State Guber Polls were APC and PDP. On the 21st November 2015 and APC scored 240,867 votes, whilst PDP came second with 199,514 votes, making a difference of 41,353 votes.
The APC had won in 16 Local Government Areas in the State and whilst PDP won in the remaining five. Election was declared inconclusive nonetheless because the total number of registered voters in 91 Polling Units in 18 Local Government Areas was 49,953 voters.
The Commission relied on Page 22-23 paragraph 4, M of its Guideline 2015, which states that where the margin of votes between two leading candidates is not in excess of the total number of registered voters of the polling unit where the elections were cancelled or not held, decline to make a return until another poll has taken place and the result incorporated into a new form EC8D and record into FORM EC8D for declaration and Return.
It was after the Returning Officer (RO) declared the Election inconclusive that the announcement of Prince Abubakar Audu’s unfortunate demise was announced. Audu was substituted with Alhaji Yahaya Bello as the flag-bearer of the Party amidst protest by vast majority of the APC Members and contrary to the expectations of most Kogites.
This led to the conduct of a Supplementary Election wherein the Alhaji Bello scored about 6,000 Votes and the votes were added to the votes earlier scored by Late Gov. Audu whereupon he was declared winner of the Election. This is notwithstanding that INEC Manual had stated in Paragraph 2 and 7 that only persons with Permanent Voters Card shall be allowed to vote and persons without PVCs were precluded from voting.
In this case, not minding the 49,953 registered voters, less than 38,500votes collected PVCs. The bulk of these 49,953 comprise of dead indigenes, persons who were not interested in voting e.t.c. This resulted in Post-Election battle which has now progressed from the Tribunal to the Court of Appeal and is now at the Apex Court, the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
However, what is mind-boggling is the rumor making rounds that some highly placed individuals are currently making moves to intimidate the Apex Court and pocket the Court for their self-serving interest. In fact, it is said that these nobles/highly placed individuals have specifically written to the Chief Justice of the Federation that the State will experience blood-shed and anarchy if the current Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello is removed from office by the verdict of the Apex Court.
Whilst we are confident that all efforts to intimidate the Supreme Court would fail woefully because the Court comprise of men of proven integrity, who have invested long years of meritorious hard work and are now poised to stamp their names in the golden path of legacy.
We find it imperative to refute the insinuations and false security reports of civil unrest that may arise by the sack of the incumbent Governor by the apex Court. On the contrary, we must state quickly that the vast majority of Kogites will jubilate that the Apex Court has corrected the wrong perpetuated by the Independent National Electoral Commission, some powerful Chieftains of the APC and the Attorney General, who conspired to rob the Kogites of the of the fruits of their franchise and good governance as the Election of 21st November 2015 represented the intent of the people.
The unfortunate demise of Prince Abubakar Audu gave room for schemers to divert the toils of Prince Abubakar Audu to Alhaji Yahya Bello who worked against the interest of his Party APC, in the said Election. This is more that the Election had been 97% completed before Yahaya Bello was imposed/ forced on the people.
Since assumption of office, Governor Yahaya Bello has ran the State as if it were his private enterprise, as though he is not accountable to anybody whatsoever.
Disregard for the Rule of Law and the Constitution, Financial Recklessness and Executive highhandedness has become the defining characteristic of the Government.
First it was interference with the Legislative Arm of Government, where he sponsored five (5) Members to impeach and suspend fifteen (15). Despite the fact that the National Assembly invoked Section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Governor refused to heed the calls of the National Assembly, he instead went ahead to appoint Commissioners and Advisers, passed the State Budget with his stooges nonetheless that the National Parliament had taken over the functions of the State Legislature pursuant to the Constitution. The Governor encouraged and aided the five (5) House Members to continue to seat regardless of Court pronouncement sealing up the House.
The mismanagement and misappropriation of the 30 Billion Naira Bail-out funds is a clear indication of his financial recklessness. Currently, there are allegations and Petitions against the Governor (the Petitions are currently before ICPC and EFCC) over the mismanagement and embezzlement of the N 20 Billion Salary Bail Out Funds and N 10 Billion Naira Infrastructure Bail Out Funds released by the Federal Government to the State.
Instead of utilizing the funds for the prescribed purpose, the Governor and his cronies have dipped their hands therein and have diverted this huge public life changing financial resource to their private ends. No single public infrastructure project has been embarked upon and salaries of State and Local Government Civil Servants remains unpaid. Little-wonder the Nigerian Labour Congress protested against the diversion and conversion of the Salary Bail-out Funds. The civil servants continue in excruciating hunger nonetheless that the Federal Government had by its benevolence provided palliatives for the State. This hunger has stirred up anger against the new taskmaster and draconian lord of Kogi State.
The above led to the stoning of Alhaji Yayaya Bello in Kogi Eastern Senatorial district. Where the Governor was stoned at a function in Ankpa, Kogi East Senatorial District about two (2) weeks ago. Most of the guests at the occasion were State and Local Government Civil Servants who were unduly owed salaries.
Shortly thereafter, the Wife of the Governor was ambushed, blocked and turned back to Lokoja by the Lepers and physically challenged indigenes of the State at Anyigba. Also recently she went to commission a Community Healthcare center in Kogi West Senatorial District the Youths in the community ran out and pursued the Governor’s Wife and her entourage.
The Community Healthcare Center was built by the administration of Captain Idris Wada but the current Governor attempted to claim same as his pet project. The Governor’s increasing unpopularity reached its peak about two weeks ago when he was pepped with stones and tomatoes on a Prayer ground in Lokoja, the State Capital by fellow worshippers. The reason is not farfetched, executive maladministration and apparent squander of State Funds. All these reactions were not sponsored by anybody or group of person but are just spontaneous reactions by the populace against maladministration of the Governor.
One might be tempted to believe that some of these attacks and reactions against the Governor have Tribal undertone, but no, the Governor is disliked even by his own kinsmen (Ebira of the Kogi Central Senatorial District) majorly because of his lack of respect for elders, executive highhandedness and financial recklessness, this is notwithstanding that the Kogi West and Central Senatorial District have been clamoring for Power Shift from the Kogi East Senatorial District since 1999. The people desire a shift that will lead to equitable distribution of wealth and good governance not a reign by a thief and a tyrant.
The Executive Highhandedness of the Governor made him to suspend indefinitely and without any just cause the entire top echelon of the Kogi State Civil Service and Local Government Service. All the Permanent Secretaries, Directors of Local Government Administration, Local Government Treasurers, Directors of Finance and Administration of all State and Local Government bodies have been suspended indefinitely without reason in a bid to clear them out of office to enable him dip his hands into Public Finance without any questioning.
The Governor administers the entire State with only three (3) of his appointees, who are known to be his close allies from his youthful days. The three appointees in question were erstwhile bankers who were relieved of their employment on the grounds of financial imprudence and financial malpractice.
They have now perpetuated themselves in what they were precluded from doing in the Commercial Banks in which they hitherto served. They continue to rule Kogi State with lack of transparency and utmost disregard for the rule of law. The Governor has boasted severally that he is not interested in relating or synergizing with anybody above fifty (50) years old in the governance of the State, as such, he does not take advise from anybody who is not his age mate and by extension governance is limited to only him and is cronies.
The Supreme Court is the Apex Court in all cases in Nigeria. Since 1999, the Supreme Court has played a pivotal role in the deepening and sustenance of the nation’s democracy. The Court, a precedent setting Court has developed our Constitutional and Electoral Laws, especially in areas that escape Legislative reasoning at the time of Legislative Drafting and Enactment.
The current legal battle in Kogi State is no doubt a novel legal issue requiring the sacred pronouncement of the Court. Justices of the Supreme Court are next to the creator of the universe because of the finality of the decision on any issue in Nigeria. The Court is hereby enjoined to resist all calls, intimidation and interference by the Powers that be in the Land. The Lower Courts have handed down their decisions, the vast majority of Kogites do not accept their verdict as the justice of the matter based on their assessment of the facts that culminated into the litigation.
This leaves Kogites suffering from the misrule of Alhaji Yahaya Bello to look unto the apex Court for a pronouncement that will not just reflect the Justice of the case but will relieve the people from the wicked pangs and strong fists of the overlord.
The Supreme Court is therefore enjoined to do substantial justice and not allow legal technicalities to deny the people the fruits of their franchise. This is because Justice must not only be done, Justice must be seen to have been done. The Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the highest sacred temple of Justice and the hope of all, not the department for the pronouncement of the will of a few nobles who hold transient Executive Power.
The Supreme Court is a precedent setting Court, its pronouncement today will affect Kogi State and will affect the entire Federal Republic of Nigeria even in future because of the ghost of precedence. The Court is once again enjoined to dispense justice without fear or favor. In all issues the Creator is a Just God and one day we shall all give account of our stewardship to him.
Kogi State Concerned Group
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