TENURE ELONGATION: ELECTION MUST HOLD IN DELTA -COURT RULES
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmnauel Eweta Uduaghan
The determination by Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmnauel Eweta Uduaghan, to stay in office beyond May 29, 2011 suffered a setback yesterday when a Federal High Court, sitting in Asaba, ordered that gubernatorial elections must hold in the state in April, 2011 Justice Ibrahim Buba, who gave the judgement, ruled that Uduaghan could not stay in office as governor of Delta State beyond May 29, 2011 as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was duty bound to conduct a fresh gubernatorial election in the state.
Uduaghan had approached the court to determine whether his tenure would terminate in 2015 by viture of the fact that he took a new oath of office on Januray 10, 2011 after winning a fresh election duly conducted by the INEC, following the nullification, Novermber 9, 2010 of his initial election and oath of office taken in 2007 by the Court Appeal, Benin City.
But Justice Buba in his judgment said, 'I hold that the plaintiff (Uduaghan) is not entitled to four years term having regards to the amendment of section 180 (2A), in the final analysis, he is not entitled to the relives sought , and subsequently the declarative relief sought and the injunction sought can not be granted , the case of the plaintiff (Uduaghan) fails and the case is hereby dismissed.'
Buba further stated that the election of January 6, 2011 and the oath of January 10, 2011 is to be determined by section 180 (2A), adding that 'therefore I am more inclined to agree with the submission of the defendants (INEC) that the constitution did not contemplate a situation where the governor will serve for seven years in office in the place of four years.'
He declared: 'So I am of the considered opinion that the mandate of a governor is with the electorate and does not lay in the court under a thin disguise of judicial interpretation on cases that are not inconsonance with this case. In the final analysis, I hold that section 180(2a), of constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can not be read in isolation which the plaintiff avoided in his submission for determination.'
Buba further averred that: 'In the present cases, if this court is to give effect to the constitution and the generation yet unborn, it must interpret section 180(2a) with a view to achieving the mischief with which its intended to cure,' adding that 'what then is the mischief, to have a dejure government not a defacto government, this equally follows that elections shall hold at election fields and not in courts, courts shall decide election disputes, it's not the duty of the courts to create stands in election office conducts or interpreting the provisions of the law.
'The constitution interprets the type of four years, no more, no less, the plaintiff argues that it should be content prospectively, that is true if the oath of office was taken before the law was passed as in the case of Adamawa , Kogi, Cross River and Bayelsa. From the facts of this case, I'm more than satisfied that the instance case is different from from the other cases cited, purposeful interpretation will revile that section 180(2a) and the state of the instance case is not automatic, having regard to the commencement date of July 16, 2010 of the amendment act to the notification November 19, 2010 and the fresh election January 6, 2011 and the oath January 10, 2011,' pragmatic document made for Nigerians, by Nigerians and by the process of constitution making which is expected to have embedded experience of this country under the previous constitution and to provide as much as possible gains of the past,' saying, 'this country has a long and unhappy history of people who never like a common interest of our constitution.'
INEC solicitor, Dr. Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN), while reacting to the judgment said: 'We commend the court for the clarity that went into the matter.' He described the judgment as 'scholarly and erudite,' saying 'you have stood on the part of history.'
Meanwhile, Uduaghan's counsel, Mr. Alex Izioyon (SAN), who was represented by Ayo Asala, said they were still studying the judgment to know the next line of action in respect of the judgment.
Other defendants in the matter are, Chief Great Ogboru, of Democratic People's Party (DPP) and Chief Ovie-Omo Agege, of Action Congress for Nigeria (ACN).