While Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada may have
settled down as the occupant of Lugard House,
GEORGE AGBA reports that a suit filed by Jibrin Isa
Echocho might just be another battle in which the
governor may have to contend seriously with or else
For some close observers in Kogi State who have
been following the legal tussle for Lugard House with
keen interest, it is a ‘positive’ temptation to conclude
that Jubrin Isa Echocho has a very good case to
become the governor of Kogi State. The conviction,
according to them, stems from the fact that so much
of achieving this dream lies in the hand of the
judiciary which is construed as the pantheon of
constitutional democracy and bulwark of the people
against infractions and deprivation of their rights and
Granted, they seem to say, that the judiciary remains
the only public institution that is mandated to provide
essential checks on other public institutions . “A fair
and efficient judiciary is the key to ending electoral
malfeasance, corruption , impunity and absurdity. But
when matters become knotty and inexplicable in a
society as it is now in Kogi , it is not just any judiciary,
but an incorruptible judiciary manned by an
incorruptible judiciary that is resorted to for the
interpretation of laws and for resolution of conflicts.
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News, Politics, Sports
about Nigeria and all Africa
By: George Agba
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
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“In so doing ,the court must be very clear, certain, consistent and courageous in its decisions
rather than giving an interpretation that is capable of allowing mischief and absurdity to thrive”.
There are also some others in the state who believe that any further legal resort is nothing but
an academic exercise. That is the prevailing schools of thought in Kogi ahead of the legal battle,
which comes to a hilt this Friday.
Curing what pundits in the state have consistently described as mischief and absurdity foisted
on Kogi State once and for all is what is expected from the Federal High Court when it gives its
judgment on June 29, 2012 in the suit brought by Jubrin Isa Echocho challenging the election of
Captain Idris Wada as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the December 3, 2011
Echocho had through his counsel ,Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) asked the court to determine
whether having regard to the combined effects of Sections 26(1), 26(2), 87(2)(3)and (4)(b) of
the Electoral Act 2010 as amended , the valid and due nomination of the plaintiff (Isah) and
submission of his name by PDP to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the
party’s governorship candidate in the Kogi State 2011 governorship election can be vitiated by
the postponement of the election from April 26 , 2011 to December 3rd 2011?
He also asked the court to determine whether the PDP, despite its responsibility to determine its
flag bearer in an election, could validly have conducted another special state congress for the
governorship primary election in September 2011 having first submitted his name to INEC as
He contended that he cannot be substituted with any other name except as provided in Section
33 of the Electoral Act as amended” which provides that a candidate can only be withdrawn by a
political party upon death of the said candidate or in writing by the affected candidate.
In his counter claim to the prayers sought by Echocho, counsel to Governor Idris Wada had
argued that there was nothing unique about the plaintiff’s case because there is a precedent of
what he termed a ‘similar misadventure which recently ended in misfortune in the Supreme
“I make bold to say that, there is something unique in Echocho’s case which makes it not just
another legal dream but also different from the case of former Bayelsa State Governor Timipere
Sylva being referred to, which the supreme Court declined jurisdiction on”.
But some legal expert sympathetic to Echocho’s plight posit that the Supreme Court judgment
which nullified the tenure elongation of five former governors including that of Kogi was not an
issue in Sylva’s suit unlike now. In the case of Bayelsa , it was Sylva who went to court to
invalidate the primaries which he won while Echocho is in court to validate his own which, he
strongly believes, will put to an end the absurdity, rule of the thumb and mischief being foisted
on Kogi State.
More so, the thinking is that the precedent being relied upon by Chris Uche (SAN) are part of
the same untenable situations that has portrayed the judicial process as a game of Russian
Roulette where any outcome is possible. The outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria had criticised this
tendency which have created some confusion amongst practitioners and the general public. In
the words of the CJN: “We have witnessed a lot of confusion regarding the proper application of
judicial precedent. These conflicting judgments not only confuse counsel but the public as well
as further leading to uncertainty regarding the public perception of the ability of the court to
guarantee unequivocal justice. “
This, the legal pundits believe, is the pitiable image the Federal High Court is under obligation
to redress on June 29. It is also important to note that the un-ending legal tussle in Kogi guber
election is orchestrated by the Independent National Electoral Commission which as an
institution established by the constitution is ordinarily duty bound to obey and comply with the
decision of the Supreme Court. Why INEC chose to obey the Supreme Court judgment in default
remains a puzzle.
They recalled that it was INEC that went to court and got the judgment that sacked the former
governors that included Kogi State and thereby reactivated the earlier Peoples Democratic
Party primaries conducted in January 2011 ahead of the May 29 exit date.
Echocho’s camp maintain strongly that he had resoundingly won the primaries before INEC
postponed the election in five states including Kogi. The action was predicated on a High Court
judgment which states that the governors tenure stays beyond May 29th. When the Commission
released a new date, PDP went ahead to conduct a fresh primary which produced Wada.
INEC , being the appellant in the Appeal between INEC Versus Alhaji Abubakar Idris which
prayed the Supreme Court to decree and declare that the term of office of the last holder of the
office of Governor of Kogi State constitutionally lapsed on May 28, 2011 by virtue of Section
180 (2) of the constitution and which appeal the Supreme Court allowed cannot rightly and in
good conscience be allowed to jettison or misinterpret the said judgment to again defeat or
rubbish the clear wordings of Section 180(2) and 2(A) of the same constitution.
Echocho contention is that the Supreme court, having ruled that the tenure of the governors
had elapsed on May 28, it remains a question of common sense that by the apex court
judgment , the September primaries won by Wada had become extinct, a nullity and no longer
applies. Since the apex court had declared that the extension of tenure of governors was wrong
, any action predicated on the tenure elongation becomes also a nullity. In like manner, the
primary held after the expiration of Idris tenure ought not to have been held. And, since there
was a primary that was held in March 2011 before Idris went to court to argue that his tenure
should be extended, the person who won that primary and had his name submitted to INEC
ought to have been sustained.
He argued that the farce that threw up Wada was further compounded as the primary election
he had won was not conducted within the stipulated time allowed by the constitution. Section 178
(2) of the 1999 constitution says, “elections should be conducted not earlier than 150 days and
not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office”.
This, his legal team argue, is a constitutional provision which cannot be given any other
interpretation other than its original meaning.
The plaintiff in this case holds firmly that the amended constitution became operational March
11,n 2011. Wada’s election was conducted December 4, 2011, which was seven months after
Governor Idris tenure had ended going by the declaration of the apex court. So Wada’s primary
election ought to have gone with the apex court pronouncement. Under this circumstance Wada
couldn’t have been the lawful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The only cogent and verifiable reason (which the constitution and Electoral Act require)
provided by the PDP for swapping or substituting Echocho’s name with Wada was that the
tenure of Governor Ibrahim Idris had not ended. Given that the Supreme Court Judgment
reverted the entire process to status quo before May 29, the PDPs reason cannot be sustained
before any impartial Court, the plaintiff’s counsel argues.
As it is for Echocho, some of the mute point which the Federal High Court will have to clear are;
what were the platforms on which the two primary elections were conducted ? Which Primary
gave room for the election of Wada? Is it the primary that was knocked out by the Supreme
For Echocho’s legal team, it can be safe to conclude that the purported election to the office of
Governor of Kogi State held by the PDP during the pendency of its appeal to Supreme Court
and which purportedly produced Wada as the Governor -elect of Kogi State was
unconstitutional ,ultra vies, null and void and of no effect whatsoever since it was done in clear
violation of the mandatory provisions of Section 178(2) of the constitution, Section 25(8) and 31
(1) of the Electoral Act.
All things being equal, the plaintiff in the instant case hopes that the Federal High Court as an
independent and impartial umpire will allow the rule of law to prevail by delivering a fair,
courageous and untainted judgment.
Kogi Guber tuzzle: Wada, another Legal
Hurdle to cross?