A day after Governor Godwin Obaseki received his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the Edo State 2020 governorship election, uncertainty is trailing the poll, which has been hailed for being largely peaceful.
Pastor Peters Osawaru Omoragbon, candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) at the election, has called for the annulment of the entire process over what he called the illegal exclusion of his party’s logo and name on the ballot by the electoral commission.
The INEC had in February de-registered 74 political parties, among which was the NCP. A Federal High court in May subsequently validated the decision of the Commission.
However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja on August 10, in a unanimous ruling by a three-man panel presided over by its president, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, overruled the electoral commission’s de-registration of the political parties.
According to Omoragbon, the Commission disregarded a valid judgement of the Court of Appeal and went ahead to conduct the governorship election without re-listing the NCP in the register of political parties.
‘The action of INEC is a reflection of the actions of the ruling class towards obeying court rulings. INEC would again be shooting itself on the legs by going ahead with the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State, when there was a subsisting ruling of the appeal court to reinstate the de-registered political parties including the NCP. That was an abuse of court process and total disregard to the rule of law. By not appealing that judgement of August 10, 2020, or asking for a stay of execution and still went ahead with the September 19 2020, INEC is doomed to fail at the Supreme Court,’ Omoragbon stated.
‘Come October 13, 2020, the court case between the NCP and the INEC and the Attorney-General of the Federation over the illegal exclusion of my candidacy in the just concluded Edo 2020 governorship elections and unconstitutional de-registration will be heard. In the worst-case scenario, the matter may probably end up at the Supreme Court just as it did in 2002 and we are sure of victory. If and when the Court upholds our argument, INEC will be left with no choice than to conduct a fresh election to include my Party and other political parties that were illegally excluded.’
Omoragbon objected to the general view that the Commission had overseen a free and fair election in Edo State, saying that ‘the INEC does not have the interest of the Nigerian people at heart but to serve its masters in APC and PDP, both in the Presidency and the National Assembly that colluded together to insert the fraud called Section 225 into the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended. That was why INEC engaged in the waste of public funds in organising the September 19, 2020, elections.’
The aggrieved candidate also wants Governor Obaseki disqualified and prosecuted for alleged breach of Section 118 (I)(d) of the Electoral Act 2010 by filling the nomination paper of more than one political party.
‘Section 118 (I)(d) of the 2010 Electoral Act stipulates that: A person who signs a nomination paper or result form as a candidate in more than one constituency at the same election is not only to be disqualified but liable on conviction to maximum term imprisonment for two years.
It is global knowledge that Godwin Obaseki submitted himself for the 2020 governorship election first under the All Progressive Congress (APC) and thereafter after being disqualified in the APC moved to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and had his way in as their candidate. Meaning, Godwin Obaseki presented himself as a candidate in two different political parties in the same election and same year. The similar infraction that occurred in Imo State between the Action Alliance (AA), and its governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Uche Nwosu, should have served as a lesson to Obaseki. Uche Nwosu was sacked by the Supreme Court because he submitted himself as a candidate to two different political parties in the same election. Obaseki should be preparing to go to jail for breaching the Electoral Act,’ he said.
He advised Governor Obaseki to ‘honourably resign with his dignity and honour still intact’, rather than to be ‘sacked by the court and made to face the possibility of a two-year jail term’ for breaching the electoral act.