Kogi West Senatorial Rerun: Can the aggrieved seek redress at the tribunal?

By Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh

It has happened finally and, just as many of us had predicted it would. Not a few analysts saw the coup against Senator Dino Me­laye as a foregone conclusion. It did not matter the position that INEC took in declaring the outcome as in­conclusive. For that was an indirect approach to returning none other than Senator Smart Adeyemi (SSA) as winner. Nor did it matter whether or not SDM had the electorates’ favor and mandate for having delivered to the constituency more profit of law­making than SSA had.

What mattered was the level to which either candidate was prepared to stoop in order to clinch the certifi­cate of return. In this situation, INEC would not only be helplessly hope­less but saddled with the responsibil­ity of having to crack its brains well in deciding who had won. In short, INEC’s presence in Kogi West was as potent as those of the foreign ob­servers and as unimportant as those of the bystanders because it depend­ed on SDM and SSA to conduct the election and produce a result that convinced the public.

This explains the brutal bloodbath that characterized the exercise to the extent that INEC’s officials that were sent to Olamaboro all came back alive while like SDM lost a nephew! It is possible that INEC had decided to follow to the letter the first law of life – the law of self-preservation – af­ter the horror it went through during the general elections early in 2019 by adopting to henceforth leave the elec­tions proper in the hands of the poli­ticians while it just declares the most notorious as winner.

It brings me to my aim of writing this opinion. Over the years, election exercise in our clime has turned from the once peaceful MKO/Tofa ’92 Op­tion A4 to PDP’s rig-if-you-can and on to APC’s take-the-state-for-APC-by-all-means and, during this meta­morphosis the electoral umpire has also gone from independent to aid­ing and abetting rigging and on to trying to become a bystander. The av­erage voter – who serves as catalyst for all these metamorphosis in the first instance – is now in fear.

I dare not compare the sins of to­days’ political leaders with the sins of those of the 2nd Republic. Yet pow­er was forcefully taken from them by the military whose command­er-in-chief then superintends over APC’s impunity and maladministra­tion now. If we think that the world powers will be there to forestall the army from staging a comeback to power; we may perhaps be coming across as the best jokers of all times. The election that took place in Kogi West was supposed to be a rerun and not a theater of war!

The question is: Can the aggrieved seek redress at the tribunal after an election rerun? This is a dicey ques­tion; one that required a legal lumi­nary to provide answers to. Now this rerun’s purpose is to get a clear win­ner and not a dilemma. Sometimes, one is tempted to blame the judiciary for certain kinds of judgments it pro­nounces especially when it seemed it does not consider the burden of cost on the taxpayer but should the judiciary had said ‘Award the judg­ment to Mr. B instead’ there will still be trouble.

For instance, I recalled the days of Senator David Mark as SP when Senator Joy Emordi got this kind of judgment but was not immediately sworn in by Senator Mark. You won­der if these politicians realized that democracy was to be nurtured and not stifled. The judgment here says ‘let’s have a rerun of that election’ and the turn out only stirs one to ask ‘Will there be another tribunal if the exer­cise fails to get a clear winner.

Now, in the first election in Kogi West there are wounded but no dead casualties and, it was nullified be­cause – for me – the aggrieved (SSA) took for granted the fact that the elec­torate had a choice to make and actu­ally made their choice. But in this re­run, he (SSA) is desperate and hiding under the APC; he employs violence instead of the electorates’ goodwill to show he actually won the election in the first instance. So I maintain that his grievance was more about the fact that he was out-maneuvered!

What will be the position of the law on a case as this rerun? Will this judiciary accept this even as palpable proof from INEC is there to aid in re­jecting the outcome of the exercise? The inconclusiveness of this exercise should actually serve as proof that the exer­cise was far below acceptable stand­ards but since the ingenuity of the law has no way out for what the next step should be; INEC now has the respon­sibility to either be bias or impartial in producing a result that is acceptable.

What irritates me – and which is my point of writing this piece – is the fact that this democracy is under severe abuse and threat with the tacit backing of those who once fought the military; talking about the likes of Tinu­bu, Fayemi and Oshiomole! The likes of General Ibrahim Babangida who be­lieved in appealing to the interest of an opposition back then are now justi­fied through time that those activists who refused to be bought over did not refuse because they had a good conscience for Nigeria but because they wanted power so they can also abuse it even more than their pre­decessors.

Comrade Mmoh writes from Jos, Plateau state Nigeria

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