16th September, 2010
As arrangements for the forthcoming general election scheduled for January 2011 begin to gather momentum, the Independent National Election Commission, INEC, has been dragged before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja by the Governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris over the controversial announcement by the electoral body that it will conduct gubernatorial election in the state in January.
Governor IdrisÂ is of the belief that the mandate given to him by the People of Kogi state at the re run gubernatorial election in the state in August 2008, will expire by 5th April, 2012 going by the constitutionally guaranteed 4 year term from the date he took oath of allegiance as the Governor of Kogi state. He is urging the court to restrain the electoral body from taking any step towards conducting election into the governorship seat in Kogi state.
The Governor also wants the court to stop the Peoples Democratic Party which he joined as one of the Defendants in the suit, from conducting any primaries for the governorship election in the state with regards to the recently released INEC guideline & timetable for the forthcoming election.
Governor Idris had earlier written the electoral body through his lawyers led by Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, a senior advocate of Nigeria, to rescind its decision to conduct the governorship election in the state and issued a threat of legal action if his request was not acquiesced. The timeframe given to the electoral body to rescind their intention expired without any compliance and gave rise to the institution of the suit by the Governor.
In the suit filed on the governorâ€™s behalf by Mr.Â Fagbemi, the governor posited that since he was elected to the office of Governor of Kogi State in a fresh election conducted by INEC and took Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office on 5th April, 2008, there would be no room for election in Kogi state until 2012.
He cited the provision of Section 180 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, providing for a â€“ four year tenure of office for a governor from the day he took the Oath of office and Oath of Allegiance as the sacrosanct provision of the law, which cannot be abridged or ignored.
Some of the issues which the governor wants the court to determine include, whether by virtue of Section 180 [a] and / or [b] of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the specified tenure of four years for the Plaintiff as the [last] elected Governor of Kogi State is not valid and subsisting until April 5, 2012 having regard to the fact that it was on the 5th day of APRIL, 2008 that the Plaintiff took the Oath of Office and Allegiance after the fresh governorship election conducted in Kogi State by the 1st Defendant on 29the day of March, 2008?â€
Whether by virtue of Section 180 [a] and / or [b] of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the specified tenure of four years for the Plaintiff as the [last] elected Governor of Kogi State is not valid and subsisting until April 5, 2012 having regard to the fact that it was on the 5th day of APRIL, 2008 that the Plaintiff took the Oath of Office and Allegiance after the fresh governorship election conducted in Kogi State by the electoral body on 29th day of March, 2008?â€
Indications also emerged that the Kogi state Governor would not be a lone voice in this legal tackle as his counterparts in Adamawa, Cross River, Bayelsa and Sokoto states who are also in the same category, are also to beseech the court to seek similar relief against the electoral umpire upon the expiration of their individual seven day ultimatum given to it INEC to rescind its decision to conduct polls for governorship seats in their states.
Gov Idris also prayed the court for â€œan order of injunction restraining the Defendants from releasing guidelines / timetable and from conducting primaries or putting machinery into motion or from taking any decision on candidate[s] to contest Governorship Election in Kogi State on the platform of PDP against January, 2011.
â€”Nnamdi Felix / Abuja