No fewer than 200 protesters on Thursday stormed the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja demanding fresh governorship election in Kogi State in compliance with the Supreme Court judgment delivered on January 27, 2012.
The apex court had in the verdict declared as null and void the continued stay in office of the governors of Sokoto, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Cross River and Kogi states and ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections in the affected states.
The protesters, under the aegis of Association for Justice and Good Governance of Kogi State, carried placards with various inscriptions which included, ‘INEC must conduct fresh election as ordered by Supreme Court’, ‘We demand justice and good governance in Kogi’, ‘Kogi must be free from illegal hands’, ‘On Supreme Court judgement of 27/01/12 we stand’ and ‘Wada must go’.
On arrival at the commission’s headquarters, the leader of the protesters and chairman of the group, Umar Akwu, was ushered into INEC premises to officially submit a letter to the commission’s chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, while a senior police Officer, Mr. P. A. Ogbadu, urged the protesters to remain peaceful.
After submitting the letter, Akwu addressed journalists and recalled that in order to avoid a vacuum in the administration of those states, the Supreme Court ordered that the Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly be inaugurated, pending the conduct of fresh governorship election.
According to him, the five Speakers were indeed inaugurated as acting governors on the same day of the judgment, including that of Kogi State, who was inaugurated by the State Chief Justice, Justice Nasir Ajanah.
Akwu however stated that in an action calculated to ridicule and rubbish the Supreme Court, Governor Idris Wada procured the services of a Customary Court of Appeal Judge to swear him into office on that same day and was thereafter accompanied by heavily armed policemen into the governor’s office in Lokoja.
He said, “The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, provides that the swearing-in of state governors be performed by the State Chief Judge or in his absence by the Grand Khadi. The President of the Customary Court of Appeal is not vested with such power. No state governor has ever be sworn into office by the President of the Customary Court of Appeal.
“In compliance with the January 27, 2012 Supreme Court decision, INEC held governorship elections in Adamawa State on February 4, 2012, in Bayelsa State on February 11, 2012, in Sokoto State on February 18, 2012 and in Cross River on February 25, 2012. 6. Surprisingly, INEC did not hold fresh governorship election in Kogi State despite the subsisting Supreme Court judgement ordering it to do so.
“The Supreme Court had held that the tenure of office of the last holder of the office of governor of Kogi State terminated on the 28th May, 2011. The state by application dated February 1, 2012, prayed the court to exempt Kogi State from the effect of the January 27, 2012 judgement, arguing that the commission had already conducted governorship election in Kogi State on December 3, 2011.”