By Turaki Hassan-
Hon Justice Inyang Ekwo, the judge who granted an exparte order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from collating Tafawa Balewa Local Government Bauchi state governorship election result has struck out an ex-parte motion seeking to also stop INEC from collating results of Rivers state Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
The Rivers State AAC/APC alliance led by Rotimi Amaechi had approached the court seeking an order to restrain INEC from collating or announcing the results of the elections.
The same judge, in the same court, presiding over two similar and identical cases, delivered two separate and contradictory verdicts in 24 hours.
In law, it is said that two similar cases of the same nature are on all fours with each other. Therefore, the principles of consistency of justice has to apply in this instance. That whatever has been done in the past must also be done in the future where similar cases come before the court.
The legal maxim; quod approbo non reprobo “that which I approve, I cannot disapprove” readily applies in this case. You cannot allow the collation of results of House of Assembly election and disallow that of Governorship elections which were held together or allow the collation of results in Rivers State and disallow that of Bauchi state. The judge cannot blow hot and cold in a similar case as the one he had determined before, the Bauchi case it should be mutatis mutandis with that of Rivers State.
One can therefore safely say that the case instituted by the Bauchi State Governor before the Federal High Court is dead-on-arrival as the court does not have jurisdiction over the matter.
Similarly, Governor MA has further shot himself in the foot in that, he failed to include the issue of results of the Lere/Bula (Tafawa Balewa LGA) House of Assembly seat which was also affected by the same fate as the Governorship election in Tafawa Balewa LGA.
Although, results from the 11 Registration Areas (Wards) were collated on March 10, 2019, final announcement and declaration of winner by the then Collation Officer, Mrs. Dominion Anosike could not be done because thugs led by four senior Bauchi State government officials invaded the collation centre in Zwall and carted away the results sheets.
The Bauchi State governor, in blind pursuit of his ambition and interest, cared less about the fate of the Assembly seat for the Tafawa Balewa state constituency and failed to include it in the suit he filed at the Federal High Court before Justice Inyang Ekwo.
Consequently, INEC has since collated the results and announced the winner-APC 25,210 and PDP 29,933.
Justice Inyang who granted the order might have landed himself in trouble waters because already, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus has said he will petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the judge’s indiscretions and gross misconduct for not only entertaining a matter that neither him, nor his court has jurisdiction over. Not only that, he also went ahead to grant an illegal order which ostensibly stopped INEC from performing its constitutional responsibilities which is beyond the his briefs. Section 87 (10) of the Electoral Act 2010 clearly provides that such matters can only be entertained by the Election Petition Tribunal which has already been constituted.
What Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar is desperately trying to do is to create a constitutional crisis for INEC by shopping for an order to stall the electoral process that is limited by time as there must be change of government on May 29, 2019.
The governor, who had boasted and described Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency of Speaker Yakubu Dogara of the House of Representatives as that “tiny place” with just “70,000 votes” is now running from Presidential Villa to court chambers, scrambling for the votes of the same people he looked down, talked down on and treated with disdain even when he knew that he was lying because Tafawa Balewa LGA alone has 138,000, Bogoro 59,214, and Dass 58,081 registered voters respectively.
The scheduled rerun elections in 36 polling units across 15 LGAs on Saturday is just an academic exercise by INEC to fulfill all righteousness as the election has since been won and lost since whereas the total number of registered voters in the affected areas is about 23,000, the total Permanent Voters Cards collected is far less than that and the PDP Governorship candidate Sen Bala Mohammed (Kauran Bauchi) is leading with more than 14,000 votes.
Again, the votes cancelled are in the PDP strongholds and now even the doubting Thomas among the people of Bauchi state have seen their power at work and are more emboldened to ensure that their will prevails.
This is the fear that is staring Barrister MA Abubakar in the face- knowing that his fate has been sealed by the people. It does him no good to continue to shuttle from pillar to post, including procuring JANKARA court order; instead, he should swallow his pride and take the path of honour by conceding defeat and may be this may secure for him a soft landing. It is over Makama Babba.
Hassan is the Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs to the Speaker of the House of Representatives