Is There Political Morality from Adamawa Verdict?
There are obvious lessons that Nigerian political
class should learn from the Adamawa verdict annulling the gubernatorial
election. This is an obvious test case that involves the lingering cases from
various tribunals involving the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections.
On Wednesday March 24, 2004, the Election Tribunal
sitting at Yola, Adamawa State nullified the election of the Governor of the
State, Mr. Boni Haruna of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The moral lessons
from this verdict are yet to dawn on the Nigerian political class. This is the
subject of this essay.
Annulment is a bad word as it connotes that
election did not take place. Election did take place on April 19, 2003 and the
candidate of the PDP tried to be too smart with the connivance of the INEC
officials and security officers to deny the ANPP candidate his democratic rights
from the election. This is the fact.
What one would have expected was that the
petitioner, Alhaji Adamu Modibo of the ANPP should have been declared the
rightful winner of the election. This is the standard practice in the past.
Maybe this was not pleaded. Why it was not one does not know.
NATURE OF THE
COMMITTED BY THE PDP
What was the nature of crime committed by Mr. Boni
Haruna, the assumed winner of the election? The Tribunal noted that
It was evident that thugs and
security officers disallowed ANPP agents from
performing their duties during the April 19, 2003 election.
Is this not serious? One things so.
That one of the affected Local Government areas
was Jada Local Government that produced the Vice President, Alhaji Atiku
Abubakar where the figures from there were massively altered. This
too is serious and should be a source of reprimand for the VP!
That the escorts of the Deputy Governor embarked
on sporadic shooting to disorganize the election processes and in the end the
escorts of the Deputy Governor went away with ballot boxes. And that
politician should be allowed to run again? No sir!
That the Director General Boundary Commission a
public officer who should be at Abuja went home to and used his security aides
to chase away ANPP agents. This public officer should be arrested and
charged before a court.
After reviewing the petition and the response of
the Governor and other parties, the Tribunal ruled as follows:
1. That the first respondent
(Boni Haruna) as declared by the second respondent (INEC) was not validly
elected and that his election is hereby nullified;
2. That the second
respondent, INEC should conduct fresh elections in 14 of the 21 local government
areas in the State;
3. That the local Government
area from where the Vice President comes from and voted was involved in the
IMPLICATIONS OF THE VERDICT
What are the implications of the above observation
and ruling of the tribunal?
First is to rely on the Electoral Act of 2002
under which the election was conducted. The Electoral Act 2002 allows the
Governor to continue in office for 30 days within which he should make up his
mind whether to accept the verdict or appeal to a higher court. This is a bad
law and bad as it is, it should not be abused.
It was an affront on the good people of Adamawa
whose votes he stole to inflict on them his speech that he was still in
charge. In charge as what?
A man whose election was nullified should not have
gone to the same people whose votes he stole to assure them that he was still in
charge. He was relying on the Electoral Act of 2002 as the basis of the
audacity to go to the State TV and Radio to announce to the people of the State
that despite the Tribunal verdict he was still the Governor. Governor on
The lacuna allowed in the Electoral Act is at
fault on two grounds.
One it allows the holder of the nullified election
to continue in office when he should have been made to vacate his office. Two
it prevents the persons who election was stolen to wait until the final
litigation of the issues to be completed.
This fault is traceable to the Electoral Act
itself that allows the election disputes to linger after the swearing in of the
assumed winner of an election.
THE PAST HAS LESSONS IF THE PDP WANTED TO
One would recall that the electoral acts that
governed the elections of 1979, 1983 and 1999 ought to have been a guide to the
President, the National Assembly and the political class. But unfortunately,
they refused to see them as such.
Nigerians would recall the 12 2/3 verdict of the
Supreme Court in 1979. It was this verdict that paved way for the swearing in
of the President elect, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. In this respect, one would
recall the Electoral Act of 1979 and 1983; there was enough time allowed in the
Electoral Act for the revered political leader of the Unity party of Nigeria (UPN)
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the defeated candidate to challenge Alhaji Shehu Shagari
of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and the winner of the Presidential
election from the High Court to the Supreme Court. Did the Nigerian political
class forget so easily that the process was allowed to run its course before the
swearing in of the winner of the election?
One would recall that in 1999, Chief Olu Falae was
allowed time to litigate his case before the swearing in of Chief Segun Obasanjo,
the winner of the election. This was what the Electoral Decree said under the
General Abubakar transition program. Why did the Nigerian political class not
follow this during the framing of the Electoral Act of 2002?
Did the Nigerians recall what happened in the US
in 2000 during the disputed election in Florida which had to be taken to the
Court from the lowest level to the Supreme Court? One would recall that until
after the Supreme Court concluded its verdict, the contest was not deemed to
have to come to an end? The lawyers from both sides and the Supreme Court
giving the final verdict took into consideration the fact that the swearing in
of the new President was constitutional fixed for November 20, 2000.
POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE ELECTORAL ACT
One would recall that the Electoral Act of 2002
had consequences for today. The President and the National Assembly controlled
by the PDP knew what they were doing. Their political oracle had in 12001
divined that there was ‘no vacancy in Aso Rock’.
They made themselves to believe that since they
controlled the Judiciary, no court in Nigeria from the Tribunal to the Supreme
Court would declare the various Government Houses from State to the Federal
They knew that no police in the land would send
them out of office once they had been sworn in even though the case against them
would be so glaring resulting in the nullification of the their elections
One could ask if the opposition parties
appreciated or knew what they were facing when they agreed to seek the election
in 2003. Should one blame the present problems that the challengers are facing
since 2003 simply on the Electoral Act? The Act is clear even though it is a
bad law. This was where and when the opposition parties failed their people.
The opposition parties had the opportunity to
protest and alert the nation as to the danger of allowing a disputed election to
be swept under the carpet even when the facts of rigging are so glaring. The
Adamawa case is an eye-opener. This was a massively rigged election.
LINK BETWEEN ADAMAWA AND ABUJA IS OBVIOUS
The PDP leaders quoted Chief SD Lar who in the
past said ‘as goes Adamawa so goes the country’. What a ‘Freudian slip!
Maybe he did not understand the implication of
this expression. According to SD Lar:
The political history of this country cannot be
complete without the contributions of PDP Adamawa State; that the PDP in Adamawa
State is the engine room of PDP in the entire country…..This Day
This is a weighty statement. Would SD Lar know
made this kind of statement?
from the obvious malpractice of the election?
Chief knows the implication of this statement as a democrat?
Can he see it within the context of the massive
rigging that was clearly demonstrated from the Tribunal?
The implication of the massively rigged election
in Adamawa for the President and the Vice President should be obvious from Chief
SD Lar statement.
One would recall that the April 19 2003
gubernatorial election was held at the same time and day as that of the
President/Vice President. The errors observed by the Tribunal were also
applicable to the President/Vice President. Should the Presidential election
as it applies to Adamawa not be disqualified? Even Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s
local government area was rejected by the Tribunal. This was an issue during
the election. We now know the facts. The decision of the President to
dispatch his special lawyer,
OBASANJO’S PARTIALITY: AGAINST DELTA AND FOR
Chief Afe Babalola has been asked by the
President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to take over the Adamawa appeal on behalf of
the PDP. This is intriguing. Is the President doing this? Is it because of
the linkage or because the Governor of Adamawa is his favorite son?
One wonders what message President Obasanjo was
sending to the Nigerian people especially in the Delta State? He would allow
his lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola to prosecute the Delta State Governor Chief James
Ibori. At the same breadth, he would with fanfare announce that the same
lawyer should be directed by him to take up the Adamawa case during the
appeal. What would the President and the PDP do if the case of the Delta
also goes the same way as the Adamawa way?
It is obvious that the President is displaying
favoritism when he asked his lawyer to prosecute the Governor of Delta State
while the same lawyer is being asked to defend Governor Haruna of Adamawa? It
should be obvious where the President is in the lingering case involving all PDP
members in Delta State.
It should have been obvious to the people of the
Delta State and its Governor that he President is using his lawyer to facilitate
the goal of the AD candidate.
Whither the PDP in the other cases? Why has the
President not dispatched his personal lawyer to Anambra and Rivers States?
THE NAIVETTE OF BUHARI AND THE OPPOSITION PARTIES
Much as one would sympathize with General Muhammed
Buhari of the ANPP who wanted his case with President-elect Obasanjo of PDP to
be decided before the swearing in of Obasanjo in May 2003, it was obvious that
he and the political class outside the PDP were naïve.
One would recall that General Buhari went to court
that there should be no swearing in of the President elect until all matters
litigated had been disposed off. One would ask if he read the Electoral Act.
He did not unfortunately like many Nigerian politicians who were seeking
elective office. One would ask where he was when the Electoral Act was being
processed through the National Assembly. Was he too trusting or too naïve to
appreciate the enormity of the post election difficulties that he would face if
the election was rigged? This was why I dismissed his empty threat after the
election in April 2003 when he called on the Nigerian masses to reject the
One would recall that one raised alarm in 2001
when one observed the way the Electoral Act was being processed. It was
obvious to one then that it was designed to enthrone PDP governments at all
levels in spite of what the voters might say. So the Adamawa Governor should
have the audacity to speak to the people of Adamawa that despite the verdict of
the Tribunal nothing had changed! He ought to have been chased out of Yola by
ISSUE IS MORALITY; NOT LAW FOR THE INEC, HARUNA
AND VP ATIKUAND THE PDP
That the Resident Electoral
Commissioner had been indicted. Would he be expected to preside over another
election? Even though the Constitution and the Electoral Act are silent on
this, this is where morality would come in.
Chairman should thoroughly revamp the INEC officials in Adamawa state, if a
repeat of the April 19, 2003 would not occur.
2 MORAL QUESTION FOR EX-GOVERNOR HARUNA
The annulled election is to be repeated. Should
the winner of the annulled election be allowed to contest again? This is where
morality again would be the guide. Governor Boni Haruna should be prevailed
upon by the PDP to step aside.
Instead of doing this, are Nigerians surprised
that the PDP big wig had to go on a pilgrimage to Yola to urge the Governor on
to wallow in his political immorality?
Is it not in bad taste that Chief Tony Anenih
should be allowed to sing usual anti-democratic refrain, ‘no vacancy in Yola
One would have thought that political morality
would have dictated that Boni Haruna should be prevailed upon by the PDP to
vacate his office.
Ex-Governor Haruna should be made to pay back what
he earned from the State since May 29, 2003 to the State coffer.
He should not benefit from a massively
rigged election that had since March 24 2004 been nullified. Mr.
Boni Haruna should not be allowed to seek another election for a period of ten
3. PRESIDENT OBASANJO SHOULD CALL THE VP TO ORDER
It is unfortunate that the Vice President should
take the verdict as a personal affront on him by the Tribunal when he
characterized ‘the nullification as a disgrace to his person’.
Who is the Vice President Atiku to rig an election
and get away with it?
Does the VO Atiku appreciate that one does not
deserve the respect of the Nigerian people in future?
It was shocking that the VP should be credited
with the following statements.
I have seen serious judgment in the history of
Nigeria, but I have never seen this kind of judgment designed to disgrace one,
exhibit lack of respect and aimed at snatching a mandate in order to award it to
another person just like was openly displayed three days ago. This Day
This is a veiled threat to this Tribunal and to
other Tribunals yet to issue their verdict.
President Obasanjo who should have been called
upon to call his VP is also guilty of blaming the Tribunal as if the Tribunal
acted out of the unwritten law that the PDP should not be annulled by the
judiciary. General Buhari should take note.
Mr. President, the rule of law
and the independence of the judiciary, which are the values that
you parades in the international community are under threat with the way the PDP
big wigs, the VP and President are behaving. If these two values are under
threat then Democracy is under severe threat.
CJ UWAIS: JUDICIARY UNDER ASSAULT
One would hope that the Chief Justice of the
Federation would rise to the occasion. The VP who is a legal practitioner
should be reminded that he could not be an accused person who had been found
wanting and at the same time reprimanding the Court and threatening the
officials of the Court that declare him wanting in way he performed his partisan
political activities during the last election in his State and his local
government. Is there a way of reprimanding him in his capacity as a legal
One would hope that the CJ would understand the
general fears of Nigerians that the Judiciary is too much under the influence of
President Obasanjo. This appearance of lack of impartiality in the Nigerian
Judiciary should be worrying the CJ.
Now the local Government elections are
inconclusive in many areas, Nigerian would soon be faced with many cases by
courts set up by Governors that are also under trial.
The end of assassinations would not end in Nigeria
because people are finding it difficult to get their day in court. CJ the
Nigerian democracy is threatened.
One would hope that the moral issues from the
verdict and from the reactions of the political leaders, the President, the VP
the Governor are obvious and that the CJ would take some judicial notice of
A word is enough for the wise.