Court Nullifies Kogi LG Elections

court1The Kogi High Court sitting in Koton-Karfe on Monday nullified the May 4, 2013 Local Government Elections conducted in the state by the State Independent Electoral Commission (KOSIEC).

The judgement was delivered in two hours, eight minutes by Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye.

The court issued a consequential order for the council chairmen in the 21 Local Governments to hand over the affairs of the councils to the most senior directors.

Justice Omolaye-Ajileye affirmed the contention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the commission was not properly constituted to conduct the election.

The suit had the State Government, KOSIEC and seven others as co-defendants.

The judge held that, the constitution of members of the commission contravened Section 200 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended).

He said that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

The prosecution proved that the Chairman, Ayo Olaniran, David Apeh and three other members of the commission were card-carrying members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

This, the court said, contravened the provisions of the constitution.

NAN reports that three political parties had on April, 2013 approached the court to stop the conduct of the election.

It listed the parties to include the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

The claimants, now APC, raised for consideration four fundamental questions, including whether the commission was properly constituted in consonance with section 200(1) of the court.

Mr. Omolaye-Ajileye held that the commission, as an umpire, must “manifestly” be seen to be neutral.

He said that it would be inappropriate to interpret Section 200 (1) of the constitution (as amended) in his favour.

The judge described as shocking, the way the chairman of such a commission went “completely out of his way to join a political party.

“It’s not that he joined alone, but proceeded to contest the primaries of an election under the umbrella of a political party.

“After the election, such a card-carrying member of the political party came back to organise an election involving his party and other political parties.

“Any claim to neutrality, integrity, transparency and fairness in favour of such body headed by such a person goes to no issue.

“The truth is that, the constitution has, by that singular act, been violated with a tincture of impunity”, he said.

Justice Omolaye-Ajileye held that the membership of Messrs Olaniran and Apeh and the conduct of the election under the PDP compromised “irredeemably” the integrity of the commission.

“Given the centrality of these notions and the transparency embedded in the works and functions of a state SIEC.

“From the foregoing, I hold that as at 4th May, 2013, the 3rd defendant was not properly constituted, in accordance with section 200(1).

“The direct consequence of this is that, all the acts and actions of the defendants on May 4, 2013 become a nullity”, he said.

The judge said there was no way the chairmen and councillors elected under the voided election could be allowed to benefit from such a flagrant breach of the constitution.

He therefore issued an order directing the most senior directors of the councils to assume responsibility, pending the conduct of a fresh council poll by a properly constituted commission. (NAN)