INEC okays swearing-in, fixes dates for guber polls
PDP summons NEC meeting
THE succession struggle that broke out in the wake of the sack of Kogi State Governor Ibrahim Idris was apparently resolved yesterday with the assuming of office by Capt. Idris Wada (rtd), winner of the December 3 governorship poll.
Last Friday, a Supreme Court judgment outlawed tenure elongation for five sate governors, including Ibrahim Idris. The succession crisis was occasioned by the swearing-in of Wada and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Abdullahi Bello on the same day at the weekend.
But this confusion has abated following the truce meeting held in Abuja at the instance of the Presidency in which Wada and Bello were in attendance. Vice President Namadi Sambo chaired the meeting. Also in attendance were Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Abubakar Baraje, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Adoke.
The meeting was said to have prevailed on the speaker to revert to his original position as speaker to allow the erstwhile governor-elect assume office in the interest of peace pending a better interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment.
Wada and Deputy, Yomi Awoniyi were received by dignitaries and stakeholders at the Lugard House where the new governor assumed office at exactly 1:05 p.m. Wada proceeded to the Government House Mosque where he worshipped.
Subsequently, he held a state security meeting with commanders of the services and security agencies. He later met with members of the state executive council shortly, preaching peace, harmony and reconciliation.
The residents of Lokoja, the state capital, however, became apprehensive over the presence of stern-looking policemen at strategic locations in the city.
Earlier, erstwhile acting governor, Alhaji Bello had announced the sack of the Secretary to the State Government and all political appointees in the state, a decision reversed by Wada upon assumption of office.
Rising from over five hours of deliberations, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday endorsed the swearing-in of Wada as Kogi governor following his emergence as the governor on December 3, 2011. The commission based its decision on the fact that prior to the Supreme Court judgment on Friday, the elections had been concluded.
Addressing a press conference, in his office, INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, however, advised those who were not satisfied with the position of the commission to go to court to seek redress, saying as a law-abiding body, INEC was prepared to, at any time, obey any court order.
The short prepared text delivered by Jega read in part: “It will be recalled that the Supreme Court on Friday, January 21, 2012 delivered a judgment that the tenure of office of five governors to wit: Adamawa, Bayelsa, Cross River, Kogi and Sokoto States expired on the 28th May, 2011. INEC, having carefully studied the judgment, after due consultations with its legal team has decided as follows:
• that the Kogi State governorship election which took place on December 3, 2011, is a concluded election and therefore the Governor-Elect be sworn in immediately; and,
• that the dates for the remaining governorship elections are as follows: Adamawa, Saturday, February 4, 2012; Bayelsa, Saturday, February 11, 2012; Sokoto, Saturday, February 18, 2012 and Cross Rivers, Saturday, February 25, 2012. The decision had been taken after due consultation of the logistics, operational and administrative requirements to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“The commission wishes to categorically state that only candidates who emerged after the Court of Appeal judgment of Friday, April 15 are the recognised candidates for the elections.”
Besides, the INEC in Oyo State yesterday fixed February 11, 2012 as the new date for the conclusion of the re-run election into Olorunsogo/ Oorelope/Irepo Federal Constituency, which was declared inconclusive by the commission last weekend.
Addressing stakeholders at the commission’s office, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hussein Pai disclosed that the re-run election would be held in five units of Irepo, one each from Oorelope and Olorunsogo where the elections were cancelled.
The INEC chief however appealed to representatives of the various political parties to re-orientate their members on the need to maintain peace.
Representatives of the PDP however stayed away from the stakeholders’ meeting held by the electoral agency in Ibadan where the decision on the date to conclude the re-run poll was communicated to stakeholders.
In his remarks at the meeting, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ladan disclosed that 655 live cartridges and over 100 arms including pump action were recovered from the suspected political thugs arrested during the last Saturday re-run poll.
Ladan said the police authorities had started investigations into the source of the arms recovered and vowed that anyone found to have illegally procured the arms would be dealt with according to the law.
Meanwhile, apparently seeking a quick way out of the crises on its hands, the ruling PDP has summoned a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) for Thursday.
Although a statement issued by the national Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, said the meeting would discuss the current political situation in the country, The Guardian learnt that the party had more than that to deal with at the NEC meeting.
According to party sources, one of the major issues on the card for deliberation is the transition programme of PDP, which was truncated by the last industrial strike by organised Labour. The party had planned congresses to start on January 7, 2012 with ward congresses and the activities were to culminate at a national convention on February 25, 2012 where a new set of national officers are to emerge.