SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENTS ON GOV. POLLS: A GOAL OR OWN GOAL
The Supreme Court surprised bookmakers on 27th January and 3rd February 2016 when it decided the governorship elections in Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states in favour of Okezie Ikpeazu, Udom Emmanuel and Nyesome Wike of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Many had predicted the opposition candidates would carry the day. Unfortunately that was not the case.
The apex court disagreed with decisions of the lower courts especially in Rivers and Akwa Ibom and validated returns of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The Supreme Court has not provided reasons for its decisions but many believe their Lordships may have overruled evidence from the card readers.
The apex court decision is a big win for the PDP but the bigger question is; where do we go from here? Can the PDP or any opposition party going forward be able to defeat incumbent APC in a federal election without card readers? It is not impossible, but certainly will be very difficult.
The card readers we had hoped would empower the voter and create a level playing field for all political parties and candidates. But if the card readers are discountenanced at least until incorporated into the Electoral Act; what happens if the National Assembly now populated by the APC fail to make provision for card readers in the Electoral Act?
The country may be back to square one. A situation where free and fair elections will again be at the benevolence of the President. In my estimation, the PDP may have sacrificed a system that would have guaranteed their comeback to power on the altar of these three states. Our Supreme Court may have also inadvertently truncated a process that would have sanitized our elections. We can only hope and pray the APC led National Assembly take the higher ground by ensuring card readers are incorporated into the Electoral Act.