IN SPITE of security challenges, the Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, declared their readiness for the November 6, 2021 Anambra State Governorship election, with the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba saying that the Police will deploy 34,587 officers, special forces and three helicopters for the poll.
The assurance from the electoral umpire and the police came as the Supreme Court cleared the coast for former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, to contest the election as the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
The apex court verdict threw supporters of APGA into celebration, across the country, yesterday.
On its part, the INEC said it is ready to conduct a near-perfect governorship election in Anambra.
Professor Yakubu Mahmood, Chairman of INEC, said this at a Workshop for Journalists on Election Processes and Procedures in Awka, on Thursday.
Mahmood, who was represented by Mr Victor Aluko, Director of Publicity in the Commission said the November 6 election would enjoy the deployment of modern technology which would make it more improved than all previous exercises.
He said the entire process from registration to transmission of results would be fully automated including the use of bimodal, which took care of unimodal identification processes which only verified voters by fingerprints.
The chairman said there were a total of 2,525,471 registered voters in the state after an additional 77,471 generated during the just-concluded Continuous Voter Registration exercise.
He urged journalists to help the Commission disseminate the right information as they were crucial to the success of the election process, noting that sending the wrong information could inflame society.
On his part, Mr Chuwkuemeka Nnaji, Head of Department, ICT, INEC Awka Office said the Commission improved on its system using an indigenous team of engineers.
Nnaji said the process was such that human interference was greatly reduced and that data uploaded online would be highly secured from cyber attacks and hackers.
He said the prospective voter would be identified by various fractures including their faces and that nobody would be able to vote twice as the registration had been cleaned up.
According to him, the Commission’s desire of having credible elections is sacrosanct, technology deployment has proven to be an effective tool in achieving the set objectives.
“They need to have one-person-one-vote is what has necessitated the deployment of a Bimodal Voter Authentication System (BVAS);
“The need to ensure the credibility and openness of the Commission has necessitated the deployment of the IReV Portal, so we ask for the cooperation of all to enable the Commission to meet its set objectives,” he said.
In his opening remark, Dr Nwachukwu Orji, Resident Electoral Commissioner in Anambra said the workshop was to update journalists with the progress made ahead of the election.
Orji, who was represented by Mr Samuel Nimem, Head of Voter Education and Publicity in Awka, urged the media to report facts and not engage in interpreting what they did not understand.
He said the Commission was available to journalists who wished to get clarifications while urging them to endeavour to get accreditation for coverage of the election proper.
Supreme court clears coast for Soludo
The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of Justices, voided the judgement of a Jigawa State High Court, which made a consequential order that sacked the Chief Victor Oye-led National Working Committee, NWC, of APGA, and recognized Chief Jude Okeke as the Acting National Chairman of the party.
Justice Musa Ubale of the Jigawa State High Court had in the judgement he delivered on June 30, in suit No. JDU/022/2021, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to only recognize the Okeke-led faction of the party which conducted a parallel primary election that produced Chief Chukwuma Umeoji as APGA’s candidate for the impending governorship poll.
The high court judgement was however voided on August 10 by the Kano Division of the Court of Appeal, which reinstated the Chief Oye-led NWC of the party that organised the primary election that produced Soludo.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, maintained that the Jigawa state high court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to entertain a matter relating to the leadership of a political party.
It, therefore, voided the consequential order that was issued against APGA leadership under Oye.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, Okeke, who was previously the Deputy National Chairman (South) of APGA, took the matter before the Supreme Court, where he lost on Thursday.
Okeke had in processes he filed before the apex court, insisted that he was duly appointed by the National Executive Committee, NEC, of APGA, to act as National Chairman, pending when the party would hold its convention.
However, the apex court panel led by Justice Mary Odili, in their judgement, held that two separate appeals marked SC/CV/650/2021 and SC/CV/687/2021, which were filed by Okeke, lacked merit.
The panel noted that both appeals bordered on who should be recognized as Acting National Chairman of APGA, as well as, whether Oye was validly removed as National Chairman of the party.
It held that the Deputy National Chairman of the party (North), Alhaji Rabiu Aliyu, who filed the substantive suit at the Jigawa state high court that led to the judgement in favour of Okeke, engaged in “forum shopping”.
The apex court held that Aliyu’s action amounted to gross abuse of the judicial process.
While affirming the judgement of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, held that the high court in Jigawa state should not have entertained a matter that was clearly outside its territorial jurisdiction, stressing that issues in dispute in the case occurred in Awka and Owerri.
More so, the apex court held that the subject matter of the suit was not justiciable, being an internal affair of a political party.
Justice Odili, who read the lead judgement held that the Supreme Court, having resolved issue six in the appeal marked SC/CV/687/2021, against the Appellant, “the entire foundation of the case collapses”.
She, therefore, dismissed the two appeals and awarded a cost of N1million in favour of the 1st and 2nd Respondents (APGA and Chief Oye).
Jubilation greets Supreme Court ruling in Anambra
There was jubilation in various parts of Anambra State yesterday after the news filtered in that the Supreme Court had ruled that Chief Victor Oye is the authentic national chairman of APGA, and therefore had the authority to nominate the governorship candidate of the party for the forthcoming poll.
Shortly after the news of the judgement of the Supreme Court filtered into the state, many people drove round the streets to express joy that the governorship candidate of APGA, Professor Chukwuma Soludo had overcome all the obstacles on his way as the flag bearer of the party ahead of the November 6 election.
With the judgement, Oye has the right to submit the name of the APGA candidate in the election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, who is the director of media for the APGA campaign organization said Oye’s submission of the name of Soludo to INEC as the APGA candidate in the forthcoming election was, therefore, in accordance with the extant laws of the land.
Adinuba said: “The Supreme Court has, once again, demonstrated that the Nigerian judiciary is a temple of justice. It does not just give judgements, but also dispenses justice.”