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THAT SOKOTO THING

By NBF NEWS
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Nigerians are very fashionable people. They follow trends. Once something becomes a fad, everybody scurries after it. Once it's the in thing in other fashion capitals of the world, we pile on the train. Where I have problems is when we stretch every fad until it becomes a sin. Take for instance the cleavage-revealing stuff we are wearing now. Even breasts that should be in hiding are on display. Breasts that have returned to whence they came. Breasts that have seen better days and hands. Breasts that have suckled four undergraduates and should have retired into comfortable corsets. Breasts that have been taken over by mean stretch marks. All of them in our faces. For what? For fashion, if the whole world is doing it, then we can't be left out. But yours sincerely went to London, stayed in three different parts of the city and in 10 days saw no stupid cleavage. No stretch-marked breasts. No fashion-by-force.

But this is really not about bad breasts. It is just that what we do with fashion is what we are doing with our elections. If everybody is going to the tribunal, I must. I won't be surprised if I find out that candidates and their Sinners Against Nigerians (SAN) draw up their cases even before elections are held. I do not trust lawyers. They can convince you to sue God for making you a Nigerian and assure you that you will win. And these are people who don't speak normal everyday English. So half the time, you are just nodding and pretending to understand what they have concocted.

Now, I hope to God that is not what is going on in Sokoto. Election petition tribunals have become a fad. Hiring hot shot lawyers is the in-thing. Nothing wrong in protesting injustice or trying to enforce your rights. But when those things begin to feel like sin against the rest of your world, you must draw a line and this is where I have reservations about what is going on in Sokoto.

With the help of lawyers who know their onions and what to eat with it, Maigari Dingyadi, the DPP governorship candidate in the last elections has been shuttling between the Election Petition Tribunal and courts since 2007. He has every right to do that but the 'thing'is making judges look bad. The court that we thought was the last hope of the common man is beginning to remind one of Sodom and Gomorrah.

After plenty of yo-yo dance that has brought Dingiyadi no trophies, the five judges of the Sokoto Appeal Tribunal tried to forcefully deliver judgement on March 16 while investigations was still on about allegations against them. Worst of all, copies of the judgment was all over the place, in everybody's face like a bad cleavage. I heard that every 'maisuya' and 'mai-puffpuff' was wrapping his thing with the judgment. What kind of disgraceful arrangement is that? They said even groundnut sellers had cut the judgment into neat pieces of N20, N50 wraps. Oritse!

The judgment was leaked and the DPP was set for its triumphant entry into the Sokoto Government House. If it were to be in the South West, a party planner would have been briefed and aso-ebi distributed. And you don't need a rocket scientist to tell you the feelings of those in PDP. The total sum of all that can only mean bloodshed, violence. Thank God for the quick intervention of the Supreme Court that stopped the Appeal Court in Sokoto from delivering judgement.

For a few minutes, let's ponder the consequences of a Sokoto state on fire, the seat of the revered caliphate. SOKOTO ON FIRE, hundreds killed, 40 houses burnt, Red Cross moves in. God forbid bad headlines but they sell newspapers. The poor people who gave Aliyu Wamako the PDP candidate, 392,285 votes to defeat his DPP challenger, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi 296,419 votes in April 2007 would have lost children and property. The people who queued in the sun for a re-run and gave Wamakko 562,395 votes and reduced Dingyadi to about 100,000 votes would have become widows and widowers. And I ask myself, is someone trying to do more human sacrifice while we are yet to recover from the Jos carnage? Is someone trying to create mayhem and plunge the state into political turmoil? Does someone want to desecrate the judiciary for pecuniary benefits?

In the 2007 election, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko defeated his DPP challenger, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi who came second out of nine contestants from other parties.

Dingyadi filed a petition before the governorship election tribunal, which dismissed his case. He challenged the qualification of Wamakko to participate in the election but the tribunal told him that it lacked jurisdiction over pre-election issues such as nomination and qualification of candidates.

Dingyadi went to the Court of Appeal in Kaduna, which then annulled the election but refused to give him automatic victory and instead ordered a fresh election.

In the fresh election, the Court of Appeal ordered that the election re-run be conducted by INEC and nobody was excluded.

Rather than preparing to confront the re-run challenge, the DPP once again rushed to the Federal high Court in Abuja, asking the court to help it interpret the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Kaduna.

But again, the DPP request was declined by the Court on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction.

Still not satisfied, Dingyadi went to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, where they added another ground to the effect that they were not only asking for the judgment but enforcement. However, the Court of Appeal told them clearly that you cannot introduce a new issue on appeal, which was not demanded at the lower court.

Off to the Supreme Court, DPP went to file an appeal against the ruling of the Court of Appeal. As the DPP was busy at the courts, INEC went ahead to organize the election re-run. The fresh election gave Wamakko fresh victory.

Maigari Dingyadi filed another appeal despite the fact that the re-run election had clearly proved that the DPP had lost again. On and on that went.

The DPP case is presently before the Supreme Court. The new President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, recently constituted a panel to hear the election appeal by DPP which is already pending at the apex court.

The new President of the Court of Appeal is being openly accused of bias and a hidden agenda. DPP has lost consistently. New elections are around the corner. The judiciary is being messed up. Governance is being harassed and Dingyadi is digging in his heels. I'm wondering when he is going to prepare for 2011and praying nothing will set us ablaze again. Amen.