INEC excludes 4 states from Jan guber polls

By Dayo Benson, Samuel Oyadongha & Gbenga Ariyibi
LAGOS—AMID speculations that next year’s governorship election will not take place in states where by-elections were conducted following nullification of elections by Courts of Appeal, the Independent National Electoral Commission, yesterday, clarified that governorship poll will take place in only 32 states.

States where governorship election will not take place in January 2011 are Edo, Ondo, Rivers and Anambra. Rivers poll will, however, hold June 2011 while Edo and Ondo are scheduled for 2012 and that of Anambra is 2014.

INEC clarification followed amendment of Section 180 of the 1999 Constitution and the recent Jos High Court judgment which confirmed that the tenure of Governor Segun Oni of Ekiti State would end in 2011.

Ekiti was one of the states where fresh election took place following the voiding of 2007 mandate by Court of Appeal. Other affected states were Sokoto, Adamawa, Cross River and Bayelsa. While elections held in all the wards of these four states, that of Ekiti took place in 61 out of
its 177 wards.

A statement signed by INEC Secretary, Abdullahi A Kaugama, said: “Pursuant to the powers on the Independent National Electoral Commission by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2010 and all other powers conferred on it in that behalf, the Independent National Electoral Commission hereby informs all the stakeholders and the general public that governorship election will hold in all the states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in January, 2011 except in Rivers, Edo, Ondo and

Anambra States where governorship elections will hold as indicated below:
1. Rivers State, June, 2011
2. Edo State, July, 2012
3. Ondo State, November, 2012.
4. Anambra State, November, 2014.

“The above clarification is necessitated by the amendment of Section 180 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and judicial pronouncement on the tenure of state governors. All parties are hereby requested to make preparation to nominate candidates for the elections accordingly.”

According to Jos High Court judgment, Oni’s second swearing_in of May 6, last year could not be interpreted to be the commencement of a fresh tenure.

The trial judge agreed with the argument of the plaintiff, Chief Ademuyiwa Adeniyi, that by virtue of the re-run election held in 63 of the 177 electoral wards in the state the mandate given in the re-run election of May 5, last year was a continuation of the one given by the larger percentage of the electorate in the April 14, 2007 governorship election.

CRS governor speaks

Reacting to the possibility of INEC holding governorship election in the state in an interview in
Calabar, Cross River State Governor Lyel Imoke said such decision would be challenged in court because it would amount to operating a retroactive law.

He said: “There has been no judgment that was delivered to my knowledge that says I have an election in 2011. So, we can only rely on the provisions of the Constitution and previous pronouncement by the Supreme Court. Based on those two things, this will be my second
anniversary.

For me, whether there is a pronouncement that my election is next year and I can only do another term of four years, it doesn’t really bother me in anyway. I try to get my people to understand that government has to continue and don’t plan it on four year terms.

When you plan government on four-year term, you find breakages and distortions of programmes. So, whether it is second or third anniversary makes no difference to my mind. But the law is very
clear on this matter as we speak.”

Bayelsa govt to seek interpretation

Meanwhile, Bayelsa State government has said it would seek proper judicial clarification on the Independent National Electoral Commission announcement on the tenure of governors.

Though the state government had initially insisted Sylva’s tenure would terminate in 2012 in the wake of the April 2008 Court of Appeal ordered re-run poll in which the governor again emerged victorious.

But the state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Strategy, Mr. Nathan Egba, in a fresh statement, yesterday evening, assured that the governor was prepared to present himself to the electorate at anytime, knowing that he has done well to justify a second tenure.

The statement reads: “Governor Timipre Sylva wishes to assure the people of the state that there is nothing to worry about the publication from the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, and some national dailies indicating that there would be governorship elections in the state next year.

“The state government’s stance on the mater was based on the certificate of returns issued to the governor by the same INEC following his victory at the re-run election in 2008 and the recent ruling of the Jos Federal High Court on the Ekiti governorship election petition.

“However, we wish to reassure the people of the state that Governor Timipre Sylva is prepared to present himself to the electorate at anytime, knowing that he has done well to justify a second tenure, considering his achievements in the areas of agriculture, power generation, water, education, road construction, health, good governance and security amongst others.

“The government notes that INEC’s position is based on the recent amendments of the constitution by the National Assembly, a position on which the state government would seek proper judicial clarification.”
This was just as the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Bayelsa State descrbed INEC’s clarification as timely saying it had put to rest controversies surrounding the authentic date of governorship elections in the state.

Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria in the state, Mr. Ebikibina Miriki while reacting to INEC advertorial specifying states where election will not hold noted that the commission’s position has vindicated the Action Congress of Nigeria insistence that Governor Sylva’s tenure ends 2011 and not 2012 as claimed by the state government.

He said: “The implication of the INEC clarification is a healthy political development for the state. It has put to rest the controversies on tenure elongation in the state.”

Ekiti governor reacts

Meantime, Ekiti State Governor, Engr Segun Oni, has kicked against INEC's declaration, saying the issue of his tenure was still pending at the
appeal court.

A statement issued in Ado Ekiti by the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor, Mr Wale Ojo Lanre, asked INEC to explain what happened to the 79 days when Oni was out of office during last year's governorship election rerun

The statement said: "Even as we are not afraid of standing for elections anytime provided the Constitution is followed, it must, however, be stated that laws are not known to take retroactive effect.

“Though the issue of tenure of office of the States where by-elections were held is still a subject of various law suits, we must state without fear of contradiction that tenure of Governor Oni and other governors whose elections were nullified and returned to office after winning by rerun elections is not for the Independent National Electoral commission, INEC, to fix. It is simply a constitutional matter.

“In the case of Ekiti, there is still a pending case at the Appeal Court and INEC has been informed accordingly. Governor Segun Oni was sworn in on May 29, 2007 based on the results of the April 14, 2007 governorship election."

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Comment by Uzoma (Mr Koch) on September 2, 2010 at 6:36pm
Constitutional matters are the exclusive prerogative of the Judiciary.
Therefore where ever and when ever a clause in a constitution of a nation seems to be "gray" this arm of government comes in to clarify it.
However the retrospective effect of any law should be a CLEAR case of NECESSITY.
Comment by Bola Benjamin Hussein on September 2, 2010 at 5:10pm
Great development and sound decision on the part of the umpire. I pray this is a beginning of good times to come from the general overseers of our electoral processes. While the rerun lasted in Ekiti, it was the PDP speaker that filled the vacuum... It was all in all a PDP affair, so what is this fuss about few days that Oni was not in office. What about the man whose mandate Oni stole and is still enjoying. How desperate and wicked can people be, how greedy and insensitive can people be, thriving in thievery and lack of conscience. Na wa o.
Comment by Onu. Anedo on September 2, 2010 at 3:59pm
What are they afraid of. Only those that got to power by dubious means fear election.
Comment by OVUSIKE OGBARA on September 2, 2010 at 11:55am
This is a good clearification by the independent national electroral commission. i pray that this good spirit will still continue like this.
Comment by Abioy Peter on September 2, 2010 at 11:01am
With this declaration by the INEC most of these Governors by now would be preparing to seek the redress in the law Court, which to me will eventually be turned to bean avenue where the tax payer money would be taken out in the pretence of hiring Lawyers to address the issue in the law court. The affected States by now should be prepared to stand opposition to any wasteful spending in their domain otherwise this where election money will be gotten. Anyway, I trust my learned Ekiti people, they will not allow any flamboyancy with the cowboy there because any attempt to me may further worsen the yet unresolved electoral case in the area.

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