As Tribunals Shake the Table


Eddy Odivwri

Just when we thought all was set, suddenly the election petition tribunals are waking up with new verdicts across board. In the last one week or so, several election petition tribunals have announced the nullification of the results earlier declared and celebrated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Indeed, political structures and offices had been constituted based on the results earlier declared.

While some of the verdicts have not come as a surprise, given the raw manipulations that characterised those elections, a few others have come forth like an upset.

In my Delta State, the senatorial election of Delta South senatorial district has been upturned. It was contested between former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of APC and sit-tight Senator James Manager of the PDP. The latter was declared winner. And it was some rude shock in trying to understand how a man who had governed the entire Delta State for eight full years could not win the votes of a third of the state. I recall the video clips of wild electoral malpractices in that district last February.

Manager’s tenure should have ideally ended in 2015, but a few factors played in his favour. The so-called Tompolo, the militant giant a fellow Ijaw man like Manager, along with then president Goodluck Jonathan, also an Ijaw man, tweaked the procedure and the plots to return Manager, as then Gov Uduaghan merely acquiesced, so peace can be sustained in the region.

That was why Manager’s victory again last February looked magical.

After serving in the senate for over 16 years, with no sparks nor salience, I do not understand why James Manager will be returned as a senator.

In 16 years, I could count the number of times he ever spoke on the floor of the senate on my left hand. No quotable quote by Manager, more or less a benchwarmer, skilled only in the crookery of the senate. He is adept in siding and working with the cabal of the senate. For years unend, he’s been the chairman of the senate committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a portfolio he has come to appropriate like the heritage of an oil block.

If the NDDC is blamed for underperformance, people like James Manager will have good portions of those blames. Over the years, he has succeeded in managing only his pocket and his interests. I cannot readily signpost the effect of his representation on the lives and candour of the people of Delta South senatorial district.

The tribunal has ordered a re-run in less than 90 days from now.

Another shocking verdict is the case of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the senate’s Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, who is representing Abia north in the upper chamber.

He had contested in 2015 and lost. He then decamped to the APC and ran again last march and supposedly won, by defeating senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the PDP. Now the tribunal has reversed that verdict and said the INEC should conduct a supplementary election in some wards within 90 days.

Ohuabunwa had described Kalu’s victory as “daylight robbery”.

Yet another upset is the upturn of the election of Senator Dayo Adeyeye of the APC, the spokesman of the senate representing Ekiti south senatorial district. In a unanimous decision the three-man panel declared that Olujimi and not Adeyeye won the election. The latter had claimed that the judgement was purchased and headed for Appeal.

When all the electoral storms have calmed, we then would know who is who. Meanwhile, it is bumper harvest season for lawyers. Our collective treasury is the ultimate casualty.