By FUNSO OMODELEOLA
FOUR Senators are in quagmire over the judgments that emanated from Elections Petitions Tribunals in their respective States.
The first Senator to be sacked is the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District Buruji Kashamu. The National and State Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital cancelled the election of Kasahamu, a Nigerian senator wanted by the US for drug-related offenses and who is fighting hard not to be extradited to the US to answer for his alleged crime.
Justice Ebiowei Tobi led tribunal ordered re-run in 110 polling units. The tribunal cancelled units in 8 out nine local government areas to invalidate the election of the People’s Democratic Party senator. A re-run of the election will take place in 90 days.
The petitioner Prince Dapo Abiodun, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Ogun East Senatorial candidate in the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly Election challenged Kashamu’s victory at the tribunal, claiming that Kashamu was not validly elected. Abiodun prayed the tribunal to declare him the winner.
At the hearing on 3 August, all the counsels in the matter adopted their final addresses and made final submission to further convince the court on their cases.
Counsel to the petitioner, Yusuf Ali (SAN) argued that result sheets made available to agents at the polling units were different from the Certified True Copies, (CTC), brought before the court by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In his alternative prayer, Ali also prayed the court to nullify Kashamu’s election on ground that Dapo Abiodun won the majority valid votes, adding that the Senator was not qualified to contest the election in the first place because of his alleged drug-related cases against him.
According to Ali, “Our position is that we won the election, but was denied victory and the tribunal should restore us into the victory path. That is the summary of our case.
“We have the alternative prayers, one was that if we do the proper calculation of the valid votes, Dapo Abiodun would have the majority of valid votes, and we said based on that, nullify the election of Buruji and declare Dapo Abiodun the winner.
“In case the tribunal does not agree, by looking at the documents we brought after the conclusion of votes in each polling stations, Dapo Abiodun’s agents were given copies of the result which we tendered but we need INEC to bring the Certified True Copies and we now discovered that the ones they brought were different with the material particulars of the ones they gave to us on the day of the election.
“We now said if the tribunal agrees that such differences point to irregularities, we have asked the tribunal to nullify the election and order fresh election, those are our alternative prayers.
Our allegation again was that Buruji Kashamu was not qualified to run for the election having regards to a lot of issue on his extradition and based on those issues, he shouldn’t have contested election.”
Senator Kashamu is in the Court of Appeal praying to upturn the decision of the Tribunal.
The Coal city of Enugu erupted in celebration when The National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in the State sacked Senator Gilbert Nnaji representing Enugu East Senatorial District.
The judgment was in favour of a former Governor of the State, Chimaroke Nnamani, who contested on the platform of the People for Democratic Change, (PDC), against Nnaji of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The Panel held that the conduct of the election did not comply with the 2010 Electoral Act.
Senator Nnaji has towed the path of his Ogun East Counterpart by resorting to the Court of Appeal.
Sacked Senators is not the exclusive preserve of the PDP from Nigeria’s governing party the All Progressives Congress, (APC), comes Senator Abdulrahman Abubakar who lost his senatorial seat to Attai Aidoko of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The Kogi State Elections Petition Tribunal handling petitions ruled that Senator Abubakar cede his seat to Aidoko. The Petition Tribunal stated that Aidoo is the legitimate winner of the April 11 the legislative election in the State.
This particular judgment unsettled the Kogi State chapter of the party. So much so that the Senator representing Kogi Central Senatorial District, Mr. Muhammed Salami Ohiare, blamed the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial election Prince Abubakar Audu for the tribunal verdict that made Senator Abubakar lose his senate seat.
Senator Ohiare was unsettled by the judgment. He blamed Prince Audu’s style of handpicking candidates for the party has caused his Senate counterpart his seat.
“The law is very straightforward on this matter. The only way anyone can become a candidate in an election is to be nominated in a primaries fully witnessed by INEC. Audu, rather than allow primaries obtained INEC forms which he used in extorting candidates.
“Abubakar paid N20million to obtain the INEC nomination form from Audu. All candidates in APC paid Audu various sums ranging from N1million to N20million to get their tickets. Senator Ohiare is worried as it seems some of the candidates elected on the platform of APC in Kogi to the national assembly are likely to lose their seats based on this criminal act of Prince Audu”.
In another development the electoral tribunal in Taraba State looking into elections to the National Assembly also nullified the election of the former acting Governor of Taraba State, Sani Abubakar Danladi, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The tribunal also ordered that fresh elections be held in more than 40 polling units in the Taraba North Senatorial district.
Ali Sani Kona of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had petitioned the tribunal requesting cancellation of the April 11 election, arguing that it did not conform to key provisions of the electoral act. After the tribunal approved the cancellation of poll figures collated from 40 polling units yesterday, Mr. Kona was leading by more than 9,000 votes.
Fresh elections are expected to hold within the next 90 days. The gale of tribunal judgments sacking declared candidates as winners across the country has put Nigeria Independent National Election Commission in the eye of the storm.