Uncertainity remains over S’Court Verdict on Govs’ Tenure
ELECTORATE in Kogi State will today go to the polls to elect a new governorfour another four years.
The outcome of electoral battle which many political observers see as a straight fight between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, Capt. Idris Wada, and his major rival Alhaji Abubakar Audu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN),may ultimately rest on the final verdict of the Supreme Court regarding the expiry date of the tenure of outgoing Governor Ibrahim Idris, between May 29 this year and April 5,2012.
The other governors affected in the case are Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) and Segun Mimiko (Ondo).
But unlike the others, Idris is not seeking re-election, as he would have completed the maximum two terms by next year.
The April 15 Court of Appeal’s ruling affirming the February 25 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which extended the tenure of the Idris from May 29 this year to April next year has put the entire citizenry in suspense as to what would be the fate of the election and the primary elections of the various political parties, especially those that held two primaries.
Incidentally, the PDP and ACN had two contentious primaries in arriving at their final candidates in Kogi State ,which is the first out of the five states to hold the staggered governorship election following the election tribunals’ judgments that either removed their predecessors or voided their earlier victories and ordered a rerun, which they won.
The Supreme Court, midweek, further put the Kogi electorate in suspense when it reserved judgment indefinitely in the suit brought before it by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the validity of the tenure of the five affected governors, whose tenure were extended beyond May 29, this year, after fresh elections were held in their states.
The electorate’s anxiety is based on the possible consequences of the Supreme Court judgment, heightened on Tuesday when rumours filtered into Lokoja, the State capital, that Idris and four other governors had lost their case at the apex court and were on their way out of office.
The visit of Inspector General of Police Hafiz Ringim to Lokoja to address his officers and men ahead of today’s election and the heavy police presence in the state capital was misconstrued by residents as giving credence to the rumour.
If the Supreme Court upholds the verdict of the lower courts, the judgment will come as a relief for the PDP in many ways. One, the winner of the January primary election, Jibrin Isah, who had his mandate voided upon the elongation of Idris’ tenure boycotted the second primary and went the court, may not push his case further.
The lower court had ruled there was no vacancy in Kogi as at January when the primary election was held and that every steps associated with the April election, including the processes (primaries) remained null and void.
But if the apex court overrules the lower courts the expectations based on precedence is the immediate removal of Idris, while the Speaker of the House of Assembly temporarily takes over.
But while in the four other affected states, the Speakers could only act as governors for a period not exceeding 90 days, within which INEC would be expected to conduct fresh elections, the case of Kogi is a lot more different, as the Speaker can only act for a few days, since there will have been a governor-elect in waiting.