The Supreme Court recently confirmed the elections of Governors Nyesom Wike, Okezie Ikpeazu, Udom Emmanuel and Dave Umahi of Rivers, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states, respectively, in the April 11, 2015 polls.
Other governors who also had their elections ratified by the apex court include Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam and Darius Ishaku of Ogun, Oyo, Delta, Yobe and Taraba states, respectively.
Giving reasons for upholding some of the elections, the apex court explained that the state Election Tribunals and the Court of Appeal were wrong to have relied heavily on the non-use of card reader machines in nullifying elections.
The court affirmed that until the National Assembly amends the law to give card reader machines statutory backing, the use or non-use of the device could not be a basis for nullifying any election. The justices further averred that voting through the voters’ register superceded any other technology that might be introduced through guidelines and manuals. Other reasons given for the affirmation of some of the elections are the failure to prove the allegations contained in the petitions and the placing of much reliance on evidence that did not cover the whole states.
According to the seven-member panel of justices headed by Justice Walter Onnoghen, the appeals against the elections of the governors lacked merit. In practically all the cases, the apex court held that the petitioners were unable to prove their cases beyond reasonable doubts.
We commend the judiciary for the swiftness with which it dispensed with these electoral cases, in spite of scathing criticisms. Its approach to the cases is a great departure from what obtained in the past when such matters were allowed to drag for up to three years or more. In handling these governorship election cases, the apex court, in particular, demonstrated the independence of the judicial arm of government, which is a necessary ingredient for the survival of democracy. The lampooning of justices of the court by some politicians over some of their rulings is ill-advised and uncalled for. We urge all politicians to accept court verdicts, especially those of the highest court in the land, whether it favours them or not.
With these rulings, the Supreme Court has brought controversies over these governorship elections to an end. Since this is the court of last resort on gubernatorial election cases, we urge all the parties to the electoral disputes to accept the ultimate verdict with dignity and work together to move their states forward.
We appeal specifically to the winners to be magnanimous in victory and extend the olive branch to their opponents who also should be gallant in defeat. It should not be a winner-takes-all sort of governance. What the states require is an all-inclusive government in which all its constituent parts are carried along.
Now that the apex court has ratified the elections of the concerned governors, they should now be free of distractions of court cases. This is the right time for them to concentrate on governance. They should not be vindictive or use their victories to victimise their political opponents. They should see their entire states as their constituencies and ensure that development gets to every nook and cranny. With the election disputes decided, let the politicians eschew bitterness. Let all hands be on deck to promote the development of the states.