Saturday, 4 October 2014

News Release: Beyond Obiano’s Poll Court Victories

Governor Willie Obiano


On 14th February, 2014, the leadership of our organization (International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law) issued a public statement titled “Processes of Filing and Determining Election Petitions’ Matters in Nigeria & Public Expectations from the Anambra State Governorship Election Poll Courts”. In the said statement, we not only pointed and cited relevant provisions relating to the foregoing in both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in 2011 and the Electoral Act of the Federation of 2010, but also concluded that issues canvassed by the opponent’s parties cannot judicially upturned the declaration of Mr. Willie Obiano as the duly elected governor of Anambra State by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Two topical issues for judicial determination were: Whether the Anambra Governorship poll of November 16, 2013 and its supplementary of November 30 were conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act of 2010 and whether Mr. Willie Obiano was involved, in the eyes of the law, in double or multiple voter registration.

Our submission then, having investigated the alleged double or multiple voter registration and duly followed and monitored the poll was that he was not involved in any more than one voter registration and that instead he carried out a voter transfer exercise in line with Section 13 (1-4) of the Electoral Act of 2010. We also held that the conduct of the polls under reference was in substantial compliance with the said Electoral Act and that other intervening factors like voter apathy and administrative challenges like missing names and sharp practices of few INEC staffs like in Idemmili North incident; did not amount to “non-substantial compliance with the Electoral Act of 2010” warranting the nullification of the poll. We pointed out that the challenges above cited are like “orbiter dicta” that should be addressed administratively and demographically. We refrained from further public comments or statements so as  not to stampede and distract the three-stage poll court and to allow parties concerned level playing grounds to canvass their opinions no matter how silly or germane in the eyes of the law.

In line with all our submissions under reference, on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, the Anambra State Governorship Poll Tribunal delivered the first verdict and held unanimously that Mr. Willie Obiano was duly elected and that he was never involved in double or multiple voter registration. By Section 285 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended in 2011, the original jurisdiction with respect to filing and determining governorship poll dispute matters is conferred on the “Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal”.  Mr. Obiano’s opponents got dissatisfied with respect to the said verdict and filed appeals at the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal in line with Section 246 (1) (c) of the Constitution and on Friday, July 25, 2014, the Appeal Court presided over by Hon. Justice Mohammed Garba Lawal and his colleagues affirmed unanimously the decision of the lower poll court or tribunal. Dissatisfied again, Mr. Obiano’s opponents appealed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in line with Section 233 (2) (iv) of the Constitution and on Monday, 22nd September, 2014, the Apex Court re-affirmed the grand decisions of the two lower courts and finally put to rest the matter under contention.

We still deem it necessary to commend and thank all the parties to the Anambra State poll of 2013 and its post poll dispute settlement. Those deserving our commendation include the camps that lost and those that won; the immediate past government in the State, the security agencies, the INEC, the Anambra based rights community and Hon Justices Ishaq Bello and his colleagues at the Tribunal, Mohammed Garba Lawal and his colleagues at the Enugu Appeal Court and Banyang Akaas and his colleagues at the Apex Court. It is our firm call on INEC to address the lapses observed during the poll such as missing names, non deletion of the previous data of voters who successfully applied for transfer of their voters’ cards and polling units, recruitment of rotten and compromise prone staffs as well as card carrying politicians.

Another area to be addressed is the issue of voter apathy. That only 442,000 people voted in the said poll out of total registered voters of 1,784, 536 is not a good development. It is also a big minus to popular participation in governance and a serious setback to the promotion and sustenance of the universal adult suffrage. A way should be found by relevant stakeholders to ensure tremendous improvement in voter participation. Effective voter review and revalidation exercise should be carried out from time to time so as to clean up stuffed and imported names that swell the numbers in the register, while more efforts are needed to capture more unregistered voters.

Beyond Poll Court Victories: Governor Willie Obiano now has full concentration to embark upon maximum delivery of his and his party’s programs and campaign promises to the people of the State. His “3Cs” (Continuation, Completion and Commission) should not only be consolidated, but also be expanded to “4Cs +S” (Continuation, Completion, Commission, Commencement & Sustainability). Having being exposed to and tasted “good governance” after many years of mis-governance and under-development, the residents and people of Anambra State are yearning for more inexcusably. All hands should be on deck to ensure continuation of massive development of the State. The two major challenges facing the Governor remain positive resources mobilization and governance accountability and prudency including minimizing the cost of governance.

Internally, the Governor has to frontally address the menace of the “third party” that has become a major clog in the capacity of the State to harness its internal revenue potentials. It is still observed that the IGR potentials in the State are marred by duplicity, recklessness, touting, thuggery, diversion, favourism and subsistent generation that still make over 70% unaccounted for. Scientific inventory, harmonization and consolidation remain their major solutions. The people of Anambra State remain opposed to negative fiscal or resource mobilization such as local capital bond raising or borrowings as well as foreign borrowings. The State cannot afford to find itself belonging to disastrous local and foreign sub-national debts club in Nigeria under the leadership of Lagos State, which has over N400billion debts stocks in place. We still preach for zero-debts regime in the State and remain totally opposed to recurrent expenditures bound debts
borrowing whether locally or internationally sourced.

Governance prudency is another key area the Obiano administration should cue into. The Governor should avoid running “government of political settlement or patronage”. This is because governance belongs to every Tom, Dick and Harry and not small political class alone. Over-bloated or bloated cabinet size is a total distraction to the smooth and effective running of governance and constitutes serious impediment to the overall interest and wellbeing of the generality of the people. The Governor should take a second look at his cabinet size and if it looks like an assemblage of “Onitsha Main Market Traders on Solidarity Visit at the Governor’s Lodge”, then it has to be drastically trimmed in any forthcoming cabinet reshuffle. High cost of governance is a major impediment to economic growth and development in Nigeria. It takes away monies direly needed to touch the lives of 95% of Nigerians in terms of provisions of social amenities and sustenance
of key public infrastructures.
 
Another issue that is very critical to the success of Obiano’s administration is his relationship with the person, character and charisma of his predecessor, Mr. Gregory Peter Onwubuashi Obi, likewise his relationship with local and international development partners and the Federal Government. While he is advised to avoid the likes of World Bank and IMF in the area of fiscal negotiations that breed “structural violence” such as loan borrowing; he should cue into other public friendly packages of such international fiscal groups like development grants and credit facilities.

Core conditions required for our beloved State to be eligible to benefit from their development largesse such as transparency and accountability should be met. Governor Obiano should ignore those planting seeds of discord between him and Mr. Peter Obi and relate harmoniously with him to consolidate the development of the State. Our beloved State under their governance and influences is in dire of more development, which must not be harmful to our environment, collective wellbeing and commonwealth.

Continuity brings about team work, collective achievement and writing of the collective achievers names in gold and their preservation in the hall of fame. During Obi’s time, he continued all that his poll crooked predecessor left uncompleted and got them completed before awarding new ones, which he substantially completed leaving the remainder in Obiano’s hands. On the other hand, Mr. Peter Obi is called upon not to abandon his successor and the great people of Anambra State. This is because no man in his right senses can build a legacy and leave it in ruination. For it is better not to build a legacy at all than to build one and leave it in tatters. With the combined efforts of Obi and Obiano, trailers load of positive capitals will continuously flow into our beloved State for its mega socio-economic transformation from left, right and center.

While we observe a drastic reduction in the high incidence of violent crimes in the State such as abduction and armed robbery, which is very commendable; we still note the prevalence of torture and pretrial killings in handling suspects. While circumstantial suspects pass through torture and other horrible conditions in the course of criminal investigation procession, those considered as “point blank” suspects or those reportedly caught in the act are usually meted with pretrial execution except those with high profile cases. The use of intelligence in tracking the high profile suspects has also improved and has reduced the incidence of indiscriminate arrests and detention. While the efforts of the State Government in taming the killer scourge of violent crimes are noted and appreciated, the civil liberties of  all kinds of suspects should also be recognized and protected at all times.

Signed:

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
+2348100755939 (office only)
info@intersociety-ng.org, emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk

Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department

Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program

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