There is anxiety in Kogi State ahead of Tuesday’s judgment of the Supreme Court on two separate appeals on the governorship election.
The two appeals were filed by former governor, Idris Wada and James Faleke, the running mate to the late candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar Audu in the November 21, 2015 election.
Wada and Faleke appealed the decision of the Appeal Court which upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as governor.
The supporters of the three major parties in the litigations, Wada, Faleke and Governor Bello have moved to Abuja and are expecting the judgment to be in their favour.
Some members of Bello’s cabinet have also moved to Abuja in solidarity with their boss and in the hope that he will carry the day. The movement to Abuja has paralysed some government activities.
But despite the confidence being exuded in the three camps, there is palpable fear as none can be sure of what the outcome will be.
Governor Bello’s Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Abdulmalik Abdulkareem, said they were not shaken by the impending judgment.
“We are not shaken, we know that the rule of law will take its course, God willing, we are set to make a legal record that will become a precedent. The Nigerian legal system is developing and we are happy that our case is adding impetus to the Nigerian judiciary,” he said.
According to him, since there are no new issues raised, the governor’s camp is not in any way jittery over the judgment. “It is not true that the entire government machinery moved to Abuja, it is usual that when the governor is out of town, a few officials are with him, he is working, he has been attending meetings, so it is not true that he is in Abuja because of the judgment.”
Wada is also expecting to carry the day. Speaking through his Special Adviser, Media and Strategy, Jacob Edi, the former governor restated his belief in the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court.
“We expect to win the case, we have always had confidence in the judiciary and we have kept advancing to the last stage, that is why we are at the Supreme Court. The judiciary is the ultimate for the common man.
“The framers of the constitution are aware that at every stage of the case newer interpretations will come up. We believe that the Supreme Court will look deeper into the case, particularly with the minority judgment. Whatever decision taken will deepen democracy as the case is novel, it will be a landmark judgment. We have confidence in the independence of the Supreme Court”.
The apex court may hear and decide both appeals the same day and fix a different date for the underlying reasons for the judgments as has been the pattern since hearing the disputes on the 2015 general elections.
In a unanimous judgment by a five-member panel of justices read by Justice Jummai Sankey on August 4, 2016, the Appeal Court hadupheld the verdict of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja, which dismissed Faleke’s petition.
But in Wada’s appeal, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya gave a dissenting judgment cancelling the election of Bello on the grounds that he was not validly nominated for the election following Audu’s death and he failed to nominate a running mate before the election. He ordered the withdrawal of the governor’s certificate of return and the conduct of a fresh election in the state.
Meanwhile, the state command of the Nigeria Police has warned politicians and miscreants against violence.
The command said intelligence reports had shown that the two major political parties were planning to either celebrate or cause problems after the delivery of the judgment. The security agents threatened to “deal ruthlessly” with anybody found causing trouble in any part of the state.
The Commissioner of Police, Abdulahi Chafe, who gave the warning while addressing reporters in Lokoja, the state capital, said the command was prepared to protect the lives and property of law-abiding residents of the state.