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TENURE ELONGATION: ELECTION MUST HOLD IN DELTA -COURT RULES

By NBF News
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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).