Politics

3wks After Judgement: Why INEC is yet to issue Kwara PDP lawmaker certificate

…as sacked APC legislator continues attending plenary

 

By Mumini Abdulkareem

Facts emerged last night on why the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) is yet to issue the candidate of the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP), Hon AbdulRaheem Agboola Certificate of Return
(CoR) over three weeks after the Appeal Court in Ilorin declared him
winner of the Ilorin South Constituency of the state House of Assembly
election.
The appellate court sitting in Ilorin in its judgement nullified the
election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hon Hassan
Abdulazeez Elewu (Oluwanilo) and subsequently ordered the swearing-in
of the candidate of the PDP.
Despite the court’s pronouncement, the PDP lawmaker cannot resume
legislative duties without the INEC Certificate of Return.
A top source in the commission’s office told this reporter, yesterday,
said that the delay was not unconnected with the National Chairman of
INEC, Prof Mahmud Yakubu who has been away on official leave but need
to endorse the certificate.
According to the source, “The National Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmud
Yakubu has been away on official leave and that is why the certificate
has not been issued to the PDP lawmaker declared by the appeal court
as winner of the election.
“But his leave will end this week and hopefully, he is expected to
resume on Monday to sign the document following which the certificate
will be issued,” the source added.
Efforts to get the reaction of the commission’s Director, Voter
Education and Publicity, Oluwole Uzzi in Abuja was not successful,
last night, as several calls to his telephone were not answered.
Response to a text message sent to him on the issue was still being
awaited before the paper went to press.
But in a chat with National Pilot in his office over the issue, the
Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC in Kwara State, Mallam
Attahiru Garuba Madami assured that the candidate will be presented
with his certificate next week at the INEC headquarters Ilorin.
Madami, who reiterated INEC’s commitment under his watch to build
people’s confidence in the electoral process in the state, noted that
he has dispatched his legal team to Abuja to complete the process of
collection of the certificate for onward presentation to Hon Agboola.
“I have sent my legal team to Abuja since Monday and I have instructed
them to stay there until the process is completed. So, by next week,
everything should have been done and the certificate presented to the
candidate in our office in Ilorin. That is it”, Madami submitted.
However, when contacted, Hon Agboola who spoke to our reporter from
Abuja on telephone corroborated the REC that INEC’s legal team is in
Abuja to collect the certificate adding that everything is pointing
towards next week.
He said, “What is delaying us now is just the signing of the
certificate at the headquarters of INEC in Abuja. Likely if we can’t
get it done this week, we will get it done next week. The process for
the collection is that our national headquarters will contact INEC in
Abuja on my behalf but it was the state chapter that wrote to the
national headquarters initially and we have to start the process again
when we got to Abuja since Monday. Now, the national headquarters of
the PDP has written to INEC here in Abuja and they have acknowledged
it. But it’s likely we get it next week and I can confirm to you that
INEC back in Kwara has also sent officials here and we do meet at the
INEC headquarters”, he added.
Meanwhile, the sacked APC lawmaker, Hon Hassan Azeez Elewu attended
plenary on Tuesday despite the court judgement.
On Sunday, the Speaker, Hon Danladi Yakubu-Salihu speaking on the
development said the sacked APC lawmaker remains a member of the 9th
Kwara Assembly pending the swearing-in of the PDP lawmaker after the
presentation of CoR by the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC).
The Speaker who spoke through his Media Aide, Sheriff Ibrahim, added
that House will continue to respect the rule of law.
“Consequent upon the controversy generated over reports about Hon.
Abddulazeez Hassan Elewu, member representing Ilorin South
constituency at the Kwara State House of Assembly, I will like to
state as follows;
“That Hon. Abdulazeez Hassan Elewu remains the recognized member,
representing Ilorin South constituency, as no other person, except
him, has a Certificate of Return from the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) before the Kwara State House of Assembly.
“That KWHA can only recognize any person with a certified Certificate
of Return, which the report also confirmed, is yet to be issued to
anyone else. The 9th Assembly leadership, being the custodian of the
constitution is a respecter of the rule of law and would do nothing
that contravenes the rule of law”, the statement added.
But Barrister Kehinde Kolawole Eleja (SAN), and former
General-Secretary of the Ilorin NBA, Barrister Suleiman Abaya
disagreed with the continuous sitting of Hon Elewu describing it as
pure illegality.
“With that pronouncement, legally speaking, that should be the end of
the tenure of the APC candidate. From that moment on, if he sits as a
member of the House, he will be doing so illegally and it will be an
affront to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
However, the House will be entitled to refrain from swearing-in the
PDP candidate until he is able to produce the Certificate of Return
issued by INEC and once that is done, I believe there will not be any
justification to refuse to swear him in but the new person will not
just walk in automatically without the Certificate of Return duly
issued by INEC”, he added.
In the words of Barr. Suleiman Abaya “Semantics apart, the hanging on
to power by the APC candidate is unconstitutional and a flagrant
disobedience to the Court of Appeal and abysmal display of lawlessness
on the party of the candidate who continue to attend proceedings the
consequence of which is contempt which can amount to him even
languishing in jail. It does not also speak well for our democracy
because it portends danger of the sanctity of the Appeal Court on the
electoral matter.
“The Speaker does not need to wait for the court or the man to
executive the judgment, but must act immediately in consonance with
best democratic practices and rule of law so that it will be seen that
justice is done…”.

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