Gentlemen of the Press,
We have found it neccesary to call this Press Conference because of the laughable attempt by the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to distance itself from the benign and failed move to compel the Supreme Court to grant consequential orders recognising one Captain Idris Wada as the Governor of Kogi State. Of course, we are well aware that you are familiar with the bellicose statement from the PDP headquarters. And we make bold to declare that nothing can be further from the truth. To put it mildly: we say that, PDP lied.
The soliloquy engaged in the said statement issued by the PDP National Publicity Secretary to the effect that, the PDP never approached the apex court to seek consequential orders on the Governorship seat of Kogi is quite disturbing that it needs to be addressed in order to save the public from fatigue through his cacophony of complaints and lies . It is a case of an incompetent drowned master of a ship who turned around in a forlorn hope that blaming the wreckage removers would conjure him back to life and a clear indication that the leadership of the PDP was not interested in the course of justice but rather in its perversion.
Let me place on record that,the Zonal Legal Adviser of the PDP,one Mohammed Kabiru of plot 1970 Micheal Opara street,Wuse Zone 5,Abuja, was the one who deposed to a 13 paragraph affidavit in support of the motion with which the PDP, through its Counsel,Chris Uche,SAN filed a motion at the Supreme Court on 3rdFebruary,2012 praying for:
A CONSEQUENTIAL ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT IN RESPECT OF THE HOUNORABLE COURTS JUDGMENT IN THE CONSOLIDATED APPEALS NAMELY:SC/141/2011; SC/266/2011;SC/267/2011;SC/282/2011;SC/356/2011 AND SC/357/2011 WHICH WAS DELIVERED ON THE 27THJANUARY 2012 AS IT PERTAINS TO KOGI STATE WHERE GENERAL ELECTIONS INTO THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR HAD ALREADY TAKEN PLACE,AND A GOVERNOR-ELECT IN WAITING AS AT THE DATE OF JUDGEMENT.
You are all are that the Supreme Court, on Thursday 16thFebruary,2012 ruled that it could not declare Captain Idris Wada as the Kogi State governor-in-waiting. A full panel of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher declared on Thursday that the governorship election of December 3, 2011 which produced Wada was unknown to it.
The seven-man panel made the pronouncement while delivering ruling in an application brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking a declaration that Wada was governor-in-waiting, having won the governorship election in the state.
The application brought by Chris Uche SAN on behalf of the ruling party also requested a consequential order foreclosing any primary or gubernatorial election in the state, since they had been conducted with Wada as winner.
Asking that the consequential order should flow from the panel’s judgment sacking five governors, including former Kogi State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, Uche argued that Kogi’s case was peculiar considering that Wada had emerged as governor-elect before the judgment.
Justice Musdapher ruled that the court was constrained to give such consequential order, because the issues raised were not known to the panel during the handling of the appeal on the tenure of the five sacked governors.
He noted that the issue before them was whether the tenure of the sacked governors had ended, adding that there was nothing relating to governorship election and governor-in-waiting in the appeal from which the judgment in question arose.
Dismissing the application unanimously, the apex court held that there was no connection between the January 27 judgment and the consequential order sought for.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria noted in his ruling that what the court sat on was the reliefs which the plaintiffs (sacked governors) sought at the lower court which had been dismissed.
Infact, we find it quite unnerving that Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali while reeling this falsehood could forget that Nigeria is a country peopled by rational minds who would ask questions before coming to conclusions on matters that bother on the Judiciary and our democracy, by saying that : ‘Governor Wada’ on the directive of INEC has been duly sworn in and has assumed his legitimate duties as Governor of Kogi State. We therefore have no reason to resort to any form of litigation to establish the facts. In Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali’s thinking, INEC’s directive is superior to the judgement of the Apex constitutional court. What a laugh!
We call on all men of conscience whose peace is being disturbed by the murmurings of this chocolate Professor to kindly ignore him and concentrate on the legitimate business of how to resolve the logjam in a court of competent jurisdiction because, the issues involved are beyond the ambition of an individual, it involves the integrity of our democratic process, the judiciary, national psyche and general dignity and honour of the Nigerian nation.
What is happening in Kogi State is not only most regrettable in a democracy but has the potency to bring the whole administration of justice into disrepute especially coming in less than a month after Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher, the number one Justice of the Nigerian Federation publicly cautioned a State Governor on the disobedience of Court orders. In the words of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, “without strict adherence to the rule of law, our nascent democracy and indeed our constitution will only be worth the paper on which it is written”.’
It is a pity that, while all the other four states caught up by the ruling of the Apex constitutional Court complied with the letters of the judgement as well as the directive of the Attorney General of the Federation, Kogi State was made an exception to the rule by some persons that arrogated to themselves superior authority on the interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling, by deliberately twisting the ruling to suit their personal desires without taking cognizance of the basic facts of law that once a direction is issued by a competent Court, it has to be obeyed and implemented without reservation.
The prime perpetrator of this charade is Ex- Governor Ibrahim Idris who tried to cajole the Chief Judge of Kogi State to swear in Captain Wada Idris as his successor. When this failed, he recruited the President of the Customary Court of Appeal to do the job. Justice Ibrahim Atadoga, the President of the Customary Court of Appeal swore in Captain Idris Wada as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who won the election earlier conducted for Governorship of the state in December, 2011. Indeed, Justice Ibrahim Atadoga became the second culprit in the category of people who felt that the usurpation of powers of the judiciary was a desirable measure to get the results they desired. The third person in this inglorious category was the direct beneficiary of the ploy, Captain Wada Idris who relied on the oath of office administered by the President of the Customary Court of Appeal to add the title of governor to his feather. The fourth most likely person in this category was the Acting Inspector General of Police, whom for whatever reason, encouragement or obedience to the Executive arm authorized over twenty truck loads of men of the Nigerian police to ensure that the so called ‘Governor-elect’, Capt Idris Wada took over the occupancy of the Kogi State Government House without hindrance. The action of the Nigerian police in mobilizing over two hundred riot police men for the ‘operation install Wada Idris’makes one wonder why the Boko Haram members are still existing and wrecking havoc on innocent citizens if truly the Nigeria police has the excess capacity it exhibited on a supposed peace mission in Kogi State.
All these actions were obviously against the letters of the Supreme Court judgement, the constitution and the directive of the Attorney General of the Federation, master minded by the Ex-Governor Ibrahim Idris in accordance with a script written by the National leadership of the ruling PDP but executed by persons of corruptible minds.
Whilst this confusion was going on, another dimension was introduced into the issue. This time, Prof Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC was co-opted to finish the project. Ordinarily, one would have expected the INEC to remain impartial but suddenly it supported the actions of Ex Governor Ibrahim Idris in installing a new Governor for Kogi State. Indeed, what gave Prof Jega the impetus to act outside the scope of the mandate of INEC remains a major unsettled puzzle which breed room for suspicion on INEC’s unbiased role in conduct of electoral issues. The INEC Chairman’s claim that his position rested on consultation with his legal team is rubbished by the simple fact that any focused law school student understands that it is only the Supreme Court or any other sister court, that can apply and interpret the legislative provisions governing its ruling and only the Apex Court Justices can exercise their considered discretion where there was a lacuna or ambiguity in the relevant laws.
When Court orders are disobeyed with impunity by those who owe an obligation to society to preserve the rule of law, not only would individual litigants suffer, the
whole administration of justice would be brought into disrepute. Flouting an order of the Supreme Court renders Justice Ibrahim Atadoga liable for contempt.
Justice Ibrahim Atadoga’s contempt of Court if not properly addressed will shake public confidence in Nigeria’s judicial institution and would make court orders a subject of mockery. The dignity of the court of law must be protected and judicial independence must exist to serve and protect not only the governors but the governed. Men like Justice Ibrahim Atadoga who act with impunity to hinder, obstruct or attempt to hinder or obstruct the due course of administration of justice must be shown the way out of a well respected institution like the Judiciary.
This issue must be addressed expeditiously; the excuse of arm twisting by the Executive arm is largely unacceptable because any Nigerian judicial officer is empowered by the constitution to be independent and is not subject to the control or direction of any person or authority in the dispensation of judicial duties. To be candid, what happened in Kogi was the displacement of a judicial order by a top judicial officer that assumed superior authority over the orders of the Supreme Court. Such flagrant violation of the orders of the Court amounts to nothing less than a suspension of the rule of law for selfish agenda.
Such open defiance of the order of the Supreme Court, that is tainted with corruption and bribery of millions of naira if not dealt with sternly would not meet the ends of justice especially based on the facts and circumstances. Indeed, the words of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapherthat “ a corrupt judge is considered as more harmful to the society than a man who runs amok with a dagger in a crowded street’ should be helpful in the investigation of Justice Ibrahim Atadoga,
As you may have also known, the mandate that we have, was given to us by majority of lawful votes cast by delegates of the PDP in Kogi State. Nobody has similarly doubted that our candidate, Jibrin Isa Echocho would have won the governorship contest in April 2011 had five ousted Governors of the PDP not gone to court.
Consultant,Public Communication and Strategy,The Jibrin Isah Campaign Organisation