It is my intention to highlight to Nigerians, the issue of post electoral litigations. Its cost(s) and threats to our democracy. Owning to our fraudulent electoral system in Nigeria , election results are seriously contested in the law courts and electoral tribunals. Starting with the last presidential election which produced the Yar’ Adua administration. The opposition parties cried foul and went to court. Muhamadu Buhari, Atiku Abubarkar, and Odumegwu Ojukwu went to court to seek annulment of the presidential election. The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja struck out the petition filed by AGPA Presidential candidate, Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. That of Atiku Abubarkar and Muhamadu Buhari dragged on till December 2008 when the Supreme Court gave judgement in favour of Yar’Adua. This was 19 months after the government had started.
In Abia State , Chief Onyema Ugochukwu of (PDP) went to election tribunal to challenge the election of the incumbent governor chief Orji. In Imo State , there is a legal battle going between Senator Ifeanyi Ararume of (PDP) and Governor Ikedi Ohakim of the (PPA). This is in addition to the case instituted by Martin Agbaso of APGA against the annulment of April 14 2007, governorship election in Imo State .
The case of Anambra State in special. Starting with the ex-governor Ngige, who was photographed naked in a shrine. Later he was abducted from the state house. Finally he was deposed and replaced by Peter Obi. But before he was sacked by the court, a lot of government properties were destroyed in the tussle between him and his god father (Chief Chris Ubah). Andy Ubah was sworn in as governor after the fraudulent elections of 2007, but again the courts threw him out and reinstalled Peter Obi again.
In River State , ex-governor Omehia was sacked by the court and was replaced by governor Amaechi. In Edo State , Professor Oserheimen Osunbor was sacked on Tuesday, November 11 2008. Adams Oshiomhole was declared the rightful winner. This particular court case lasted for about 18 months. In Kogi State , the story is the same. The list is endless. As your reading this article, many state governors are facing one legal battle or the other as a result of fraudulent elections.
In the senate, the court of appeal sitting in Jos has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) order to issue Brig-Gen John Shagaya Certficate of Return, whose election was earlier nullified. Many more other senators are in courts battling their electoral results. Members of the House of Representatives, state Houses of Assembly, local government chairmen, and Counsellors all over the country are in one court or the other contesting their election “victories”
Only God knows the legal costs of all these litigations. The time wasted on all these cases cannot be captured on monetary terms. The setbacks to the nation as a result of these cases cannot be quantified. This is also a serious threat to our democracy and nation at large. It is an unwanted distraction on the part of government. The effects of all these are that the masses are denied the dividends of democracy. Government abandons its primary responsibility and only face litigations. When we factor in electoral violence/deaths, Nigeria comes in parity with countries like Kenya , Zimbabwe etc.
Have you wondered, how long we will continue having this? Another question is whether Nigerians are prepared for these problems. The answer is no. Without doubts, an average Nigerian is simply too tired for this kind of setbacks. The solution is simple, adopt the Option A4 electoral system and we will have a smooth, transparent and fair elections. Nigerians are yet to see a system better than Option A4.
Using the Option A4 electoral system, winners will emerge without recourse to the election tribunals. The system was adjudged the fairest and freest in Nigeria . The financial costs of conducting elections and litigations in Nigeria should be enough to create meaningful jobs for at least about 100,000 Nigerians. Option A4 is the cheapest, therefore resources will not spent on litigations. Time will not be wasted going to the courts/tribunals. INEC will spend less, compared to what they are spending now. Since electoral reforms are non negotiable, kindly join my group to campaign for the reintroduction of Option A4 electoral system in Nigeria .
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group”