Echocho v Wada: Appeal Court Rules Tomorrow

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The long legal tussle between Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State and the winner of the January 9, 2012 peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) primaries, Alhaji Jubrin Isah Echocho will be decide upon by the Court of Appeal tomorrow.

An aide to the appellant, Barr Isah Abdullahi exudes confidence that the Appeal Court judgement will favour his principal, Echocho. He hinged his confidence on the legal interpretation as he explained;

“In the course of its preparation for the conduct of general elections in Nigeria in the year 2011, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had indicated that election shall be conducted into the office of Governor of Kogi State amongst others, he said.

“The intent, expressed by INEC to conduct election into the office of Governor of Kogi State was challenged by the then Governor at the Federal High Court, which held that Ibro was right in insisting that time was not due for the conduct of election into the said office of Governor.

“INEC filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal and went ahead with preparations to conduct the said election.

Political parties conducted primaries to select representatives to fly the flag of their respective parties and to meet the deadline for submission of party candidates to INEC.

The Court of Appeal, in its wisdom upheld the verdict of the Federal High Court to the effect that time was not yet due for the conduct of election into the office of Governor of Kogi State.

However, prior to the said verdict of the Court of Appeal, parties had submitted names of flag bearers for the purpose of the said election. The Peoples Democratic Party submitted the name of Alhaji Jibrin Isa (Echocho) as its nominated flag bearer.

Upon the said verdict of the Court of Appeal, INEC brought preparations for the conduct of election into the office of Governor of Kogi State and 4 other States to an abrupt end but went ahead to file an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court.

Further in line with the Judgment of the Court of Appeal, INEC fixed election into the office of Governor of Kogi State for 3rd December, 2011

Political parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dispensed with earlier nominations, conducted fresh primaries and submitted fresh names to INEC as candidates in the 3rd December gubernatorial election.

The said election was conducted and the PDP flag bearer, Alhaji Idris Wada was returned and declared as the Governor-elect.

The Supreme Court by its judgment delivered on 28/1/2012 held that the tenure of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Ibro) lapsed on the 28/05/2011.

Primed on the said Judgment of the Supreme Court, it may be said that election into the office of Governor of Kogi State ought to have been conducted not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the said office. (See Section 178 (2) of the 1999 CFRN (as amended).

Given that constitutional provision, election into the office of Governor of Kogi State ought to have been conducted not later than 28/4/2011.

The party primary conducted by the PDP in Kogi State on 9/1/2011 had as its product a Jibrin Isa (Echocho) as its governorship candidate.

The Supreme Court having returned Kogi State back to the status quo as was to be on 28/5/2011 would thus be deemed to have returned each political party back to the said initial primaries so conducted. The reasons for this includes:

  • Having declared that Ibro’s tenure lapsed on the 28/5/2011, the election conducted into the office of Governor of Kogi State on 3/12/2011 can no longer stand as it was based on the fact that Ibro’s tenure lapses in April, 2012.
  • The said election has by implication been voided by the Judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on 27/1/2012 as it was based on a party primary election that was conducted in contravention of Sections 32 and 33 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
  • Section 33 of the Electoral Act prohibits the change or substitution of name of party candidate once submitted to INEC in line with Section 32 of the said Act.
  • The PDP, having submitted the name of Alhaji Jibrin Isa (Echocho) cannot substitute it with that of Wada pending the conduct of election into the office of Governor of Kogi State.
  • What is more, the judgment of the Supreme Court having gone ahead to direct INEC to conduct election into the office of Governors of the affected states within 90 days has voided the 3rd December, 2011 election.

He concluded that the end result is that PDP is to return to the Primaries of 9th January, 2011 the name of the emergent candidate of which it has since submitted to INEC in line with Section 32 of the said Electoral Act.