|Ondo State Governor And Supporters Celebrating Victory|
The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law wishes to celebrate with Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Government and People of Ondo State in Southwest Nigeria as well as other Nigerians and all true lovers of living democracy and the rule of law over the 29th of August, 2013 Supreme Court of Nigeria’s unanimous verdict affirming the election of the Governor of Ondo State, who was declared winner of the staggered governorship poll held on 20th of October, 2012. We congratulate all Nigerians for this historic verdict.
The result of the poll was declared on 21st of October, 2012 with Governor Olusegun Mimiko polling two hundred & sixty thousand, one hundred & ninety nine (260, 199) live votes. The candidate of the PDP candidate, Barrister Olusola Oke secured a second position with one hundred & fifty five thousand, nine hundred & sixty one (155,961) votes while the defunct ACN ( APC) and its candidate, Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu came third with one hundred & forty three thousand, five hundred & twelve (143,512) votes. Ondo State, according to INEC demographic data, has a registered voting population of one million, six hundred & thirty eight thousand, nine hundred & fifty (1, 638, 950); out of which, about 40.1 percent or six hundred & twenty four thousand, six hundred & fifty nine (624, 659) voted in the said election.
It is recalled that following the grand judicial precedent laid in Nigeria’s third republican democracy by Anambra State in the case of Dr. Chris Ngige/ INEC v Peter Obi (appellate court case of March 15, 2006), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, whose living electoral mandate was stolen on April 14, 2007 governorship poll in the State; got emboldened and approached the judiciary for the recovery of same. On 23rd of February, 2009, the Benin Division of the Appellate Court , presided over by Hon. Justice Umaru Abdullahi answered his judicial prayers and returned him as the duly and truly elected governor of Ondo State. The grand judgment followed the earlier lower court judgment on 25th of July, 2008, which declared him winner. By the appellate verdict, Ondo State became the second beneficiary of the Anambra’s grand electoral judicial precedent, after the Governor, Government and People of Edo State, who got theirs on November 11, 2008.
The Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s smooth journey to judicial sanctification of his new electoral mandate started on May3, 2013, when the Ondo State Governorship Poll Tribunal confirmed his electoral declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission. The decision had arisen from the conduct of the poll on 20th of October, 2012. Governor Mimiko was declared winner of the poll on 21st of October, 2012. Following dissatisfaction expressed by the duo of PDP and defunct ACN-now APC and their candidates, the Akure Division of the Appeal Court on July 2, 2013 affirmed the lower court verdict. The rejection of the appellate verdict by the duo of PDP and ACN now called “APC” and their candidates led to the August 29, 2013 grand and unanimous judgment by the Supreme Court of Nigeria per Hon. Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Mary Odili.
Lessons And Limits To Media Noisemaking:
The Ondo governorship poll and its sanctity is a clear indication that credible and conscientious electoral decisions by a people can never be corrupted by media noisemaking and intimidating resources mobilization drawn from meager public treasury. It was not only a shocker to the tribal ruling party in the Southwest zone, but it also sent a clear message to them to the effect that poisoned public perception using the media unduly and corruptly is a direct opposite of what obtains in polling centers under free and fair atmosphere. Judging from the poisoned and corrupted public perception premised on media noisemaking, the tribal ruling party in the Southwest zone was predicted to win the poll on a landslide. But through the combination of towering performance index of Governor Mimiko known only to Ondo voters and independent electoral choice, the reverse became the case.
Judicially speaking, the absence of “Salami Magic” also dealt a fatal blow to the said tribal ruling party in the zone. Its media noisemaking following its abysmal performance and relegated third position in the important poll was cut to sizes, making it to shift to the media trial of the poll’s outcome with infantile threats to oust the living mandate using judicial salami magic, which has now disappeared from the hallowed temple of the Nigerian Judiciary. It was on account of this that we stated clearly and irrevocably in our public information of 26th of October, 2012 that the Ondo State Governorship Election Results Are Beyond Judicial Revocation. Today, we have irrevocably been vindicated!
The latest apex court verdict on Ondo Governorship Poll should be an eye opener to all and sundry especially the Independent National Electoral Commission. This is because no court in the land can nullify the living electoral mandate derived from live votes. Also the credibility of the voters’ register makes judicial review of any conducted poll easy and its revocation difficult. The electoral review division of the Nigerian Judiciary will be sent on quiet holiday once the credibility of the voters’ register as well as the credible conduct of its associated polls are traditionalized in Nigeria. Judges who lobby and bribe to be made electoral panel members and presiding officers will be shut out of such criminally lucrative ventures.
As INEC prepares for Anambra Governorship Poll, scheduled for 16th of November, 2013, the lessons from the forgoing are very importantly fundamental to the Commission. One of such lessons is the need to ensure that the Anambra version of the National Register of Voters is credibly cleaned and made legally and demographically grounded. To this effect, all “double registrants”,” dead voters” and “non-living object voters” must be deleted. Owing to monumental failure of the recently concluded “voter registration and revalidation” exercise, those who lost their voters’ cards, whose names and pictures are on the register should be allowed to vote. Similar treatment should be extended to those in the 53 missing polling centers said to be located in nine LGAs in Anambra State. Those of them with voters’ cards linked to the affected polling units should be allowed to cast their votes.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Board
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk