BY DEJI ADEYANJU
The judgment of the Supreme Court determining the governorship tussle involving Captain Idris Wada, Hon. James Faleke and Alhaji Yahaya Bello was surprising to say the least. In the judgment given on September 20, 2016, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals of Wada and Faleke and affirmed Bello as Governor of Kogi State.
To my mind, this judgment – along with the judgments of the Court of Appeal and the Election Petition Tribunal – is bizarre and not in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
One is hard pressed to avoid the conclusion that in reaching its decision the Supreme Court relied on manufactured technicalities that did damage to the letter and the spirit of our laws.
The judgment contradicts the previous judgment of apex court in CPC v Ombugadu (2013) 18 NWLR (1385) 16; Gbileve v Addingi (2014) 16 NWLR (1433) 56; Eligwe v Okpokiri (2015) 2 NWLR (1443) 348; Jev v Iyortom (2015) 15 NWLR (1483) 484 where the provisions of Section 141 of the Electoral Act was applied to the effect that a candidate cannot be declared the winner of an election in which he did not participate in all stages of the election.
In deciding in favour of Bello, the Supreme Court basically nullified the provisions of Section 141 of the Electoral Act and reversed itself per the judgments given in the above cited cases. The Supreme Court has basically returned to its holding in Amaechi v Omehia, which is what Section 141 was enacted to prevent.
In deciding in favour of Bello, the Supreme Court has basically violated the principle of Separation of Powers and usurped the role of the legislature.
It is public knowledge that Faleke wrote letters to his party withdrawing as a deputy governor candidate to Yahaya Bello. Upon the refusal of his party to write to INEC informing them of Faleke’s withdrawal, he did so directly by writing to INEC informing them of his decision to withdraw as a deputy governorship candidate to Bello.
In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court (and indeed the lower courts) completely ignored these facts. Instead, it surprisingly held that Faleke’s withdrawal was unknown to law.
This assertion basically allows the APC to enjoy the benefits of its wrong doing. How is this legal? How is this equitable?
Again, one is hard pressed to avoid the conclusion that the Supreme Court deliberately disregarded the fact of Bello’s withdrawal to enable it reach a pre-determined conclusion. It does not seem legal or equitable, that a Court can acknowledge the wrong-doing of a party yet allow the party to benefit from such wrong-doing.
While we wait for the Supreme Court to give reasons for its decision, we can only accept the reality of 3 more years on tepid, uninspiring leadership from Yahaya Bello in Kogi State.
Under Yahaya Bello’s leadership, Kogi State is racking up debts in billions of Naira with no commensurate infrastructural or developmental gains to show for it. Despite collecting billions of Naira worth of bailout funds, the state still owes several months’ salaries. As it stands, Yahaya Bello is currently leading Nigeria down a path of indebtedness and financial ruin as similar to Osun.