Ahead of the final battle at the Supreme Court tomorrow, on the 2015, Kogi State Governorship election blues, Governor Yahaya Bello, appears unruffled even as the recent support and solidarity of the people have helped him to consolidate and stabilise himself at the Lugard House with confidence.
This was evident at the Eid-el-Kabir celebration at Lokoja, when after the prayer; the City Centre was practically shut down. Long convoy of vehicles, stretching into kilometres in distance, colourful horse riders, cyclists and large sea of human heads in long trek, joined the Maigari of Lokoja, Alhaji Muhammed Maikarfi 11, Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Ahmed Imam, to escort the Governor from the prayer ground to the Government House, amidst ceremonial royal drums and Kakaki sounds that kept the air festive.
For Lokoja People, the Sallah celebration also coincided with the Lokoja Founders’ Day Celebration, since it was founded, in its modern form, on September 12, 1860.
Traditional leaders of Lokoja People, who gathered to mark the day declared the support of the communities hosting the capital city, for the Governor. Their position was made known by the Walin Lokoja, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Idrisu, (rtd), who distanced Lokoja people from the political bitterness of bad losers at the 2015 gubernatorial election in the state, saying, Lokoja people are no trouble makers ;because they believe leadership comes from God.
He advised the bad losers still kicking against the Governor and fanning the embers of trouble, saying, “…If for any reason your son becomes a leader, please follow him because if you don’t, the Almighty God will curse you. So we have no reason to stone any Governor; it is not in our character. We have never stoned any Governor. It was not Lokoja people that stoned the Governor but miscreants and criminals…”
The Governor who legitimately participated in the Primaries of his Party, the All Progressive Congress,( APC) in the build up to the 2015 Governorship election in the state and was first runner up, having lost to the winner, the late Prince Abubakar Audu.
In that position, as first runner up, providence beckoned on him to complete a race started by the winner of that primaries following sudden death.
But a counter political camp, who never expressed interest in the race and never participated in the primaries, rose against him. He defeated them at the Election Petition Tribunal and at the Appeal Court to justify his well-deserved seat as the 6th Governor of Kogi State.
The Courts held that “… the political party, APC, is legally entitled to make substitution for candidate in an election in which it is involved.”
It also held that “… this right of the Political party to nominate and sponsor a candidate of its choice as the action is not subject to challenge except where not exercised judiciously which can include wrongful substitution of change of candidate…
The Court further held that “… from the above the party’s choice of the Respondent as its replacement to its late gubernatorial candidate cannot legally be questioned or challenged by the Petitioner. More so, when the Petitioner was only sponsored by his party APC as a deputy governorship candidate to the election of the 21/11/2015 which was declared inconclusive…”
It held further that “… the Petitioner has been shown not to have participated in the party’s primaries for the gubernatorial seat but deputy governorship candidate. It is therefore the considered view of this tribunal that flowing from the above, the Petitioner lacks the locus standi to challenge the decision of his party APC to sponsor the second Respondent as its substitute for the gubernatorial seat…”
On this and other grounds the Petition was dismissed at the Tribunal and the election of Governor Yahaya Bello upheld. The decision of the tribunal was further up held at the Appeal Court as the Petitioners went higher to the Supreme Court. It is the final Judgement at the Supreme Court that is being expected with animated anxiety.
While the waiting lasts, the opposition camp has been throwing stones against every perceived political enemy. One of the stones was from the Audu/Faleke Political Organisation, in a statement by its Director Media and Publicity, Duro Meseko, promoting rumour of an impending anarchy on a Supreme Court Judgement that was yet to be delivered.
Another came from some self-styled and self-appointed analysts who attempted to identify, the so called, ‘many unresolved question in the Kogi election verdict’, but ended up viewing the issues with tinted glasses.
Yet another camp, still dreaming of a fool’s paradise to come after the expected Supreme Court’s Judgement, became so impatient that they organised some criminal elements to embarrass the Governor, at a Friday Mosque, by pelting him with stones after prayer but the mission failed when their suspicious movements were detected and exposed by some market women, who aborted the plan and also prevented the miscreants from escaping.
Although some arrests were reportedly made, the Police Command in Kogi State was yet to tell, those who sponsored the physical attack against the Governor.
Indications, flowing from the recent open support and solidarity show for the Governor, in Lokoja, during the Sallah and Lokoja Founders’ Day celebrations, are that the State would once again explode into another round of celebration and felicitation with Governor Yahaya Bello, for a battle well fought and won, if the decisions of the lower courts are upheld by the Supreme Court.
— Balogun wrote from Lokoja.