RIGHTSView, By EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO: Awaiting Tambuwal’s Date with History

Posted by News Express | 6 May 2015 | 3,580 times

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Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is an ebullient young and upwardly-mobile attorney-at-law who rose by dint of hard work, resilience and a certain dosage of Mother Luck from the benevolent Creator, to become a successful political tactician in his youth. He is in the class of a few considered as high-flyers in Nigeria's political firmament, given his meteoric rise to fame and status. That he has remained consistently relevant and has the acumen to know which political camp to switch allegiance to and the time to do that has somewhat marked him out as a political strategist.

 In less than 10 years of venturing into the highly competitive and somewhat murky waters of Nigerian politics, this young lawyer has achieved for himself two major political offices that place him in such a high profile position to shape history and bring about transformational changes to the lives of his constituents and the nation as a whole. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal has carved a beautiful niche for himself as someone who won the total mandate of his peers, even against the unpopular line that his then political platform, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) adopted regarding the zoning of offices in the parliament. He fought alongside his other colleagues to achieve a bipartisan triumphant battle against the sinister plots by the executive branch of government, alongside the party's national hierarchy, to muzzle the parliamentary freedoms constitutionally embedded in the respected matrix of separation of powers.

Again, when he took the bull by the horn and quit his political party to join the ranks of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), he made another first when he became the first head of a branch of the national parliament who doesn't belong to the national ruling party. He resisted all attempts illegally and legally to unseat him and exposed himself to the risk of police harassment, when he forced his way into the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly to thwart the dare-devil plot by his erstwhile political family in cohort with then Inspector-General of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, to impeach him. He took in a large dose of police teargas canisters thrown at him by the well-fortified Mobile Police Squadron led by the FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr Inalegwu. Tambuwal can be called a veteran of many political battles. He proceeded to run for the highest office in his home state of Sokoto, when the outgoing governor gave clear signal that he favoured him as the most suitable successor. In a hotly contested poll, he beat his closest rival of the PDP who, ironically, is his brother-in-law and a man reported as the one that brought him into the political fray. But his victory is being challenged by another or indeed two politicians who told a Federal High Court that they were schemed out during the party primary to make way for Tambuwal. And so, the winner of the election is anyone but Mr Tambuwal, even when it is clear to even the blind that Tambuwal was the rightful candidate that vigorously campaigned and actually ran the election in which he became victorious. Many are asking why politicians are such bad losers that they can cling unto unending litigation to seek to deny rightful winners of electoral contest the enjoyment of the fruits of their political labour, which is to assume office and provide selfless service to the people of the constituency in which he got the mandate for a four-year-tenure, subject to renewal for another final four-year tenure.

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday fixed May 26, 2015 to decide on whether there is still a live issue in the suit challenging the emergence of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the just-concluded gubernatorial poll in Sokoto State. A news report I read in Daily Independent stated that at the resumed hearing of the matter, Tambuwal, who is now the Sokoto State governor-elect, told the court, through his counsel, Jibril Okutepa (SAN) that the suit filed by Senator Umaru Dahiru challenging his candidacy as the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the state has become an academic exercise, and that the court should decline jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter. According to Okutepa, in paragraphs 2.40, page 7 of the plaintiffs’ written address, it was stated that reliefs E to G, which would have conferred utility value on the plaintiffs, are no longer tenable due to afflution of time and occurrence of events.

He said: “The suit has become academic. And when a court lacks jurisdiction to entertain a matter, it does not have the inherent jurisdiction to give life to the matter. I want the court to hold that the suit has become academic and should decline jurisdiction. Let the plaintiffs wait till 2019 to try their luck.”

Counsel to the second defendant (APCl) in the suit, Sunday Ibrahim Ameh (SAN) aligned himself with Okutepa’s submission and adopted the written submissions of the first defendant in the matter and added, however, that reliefs A to D of the plaintiffs seek only constitutional interpretation. He said that any declaration by the court will have no constitutional or electoral significance to the parties before the court, because the election had already been held and a winner had emerged.

Plaintiffs’ counsel, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN), urged the court to hold that the matter is alive, insisting that there is a reasonable cause of action. He said the plaintiffs were not indolent, just as he urged the court to invoke its powers to look into its records and exercise the power in order to determine whether or not the plaintiffs were indolent as claimed by the defendants. 

Meanwhile, the APC had asked for the transfer of the matter to Sokoto State Division of the Federal High Court. In the suit, the plaintiffs, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights, Senator Umaru Dahiru and Sanyinna are asking the court to determine whether the pro­cedure for the nomination and/or sponsorship of candidates for the elective offices recognised by the Electoral Acts 2010 and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is within the exclusive domain of Section 87 of the said Electoral Act.

The trial Judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu, adjourned till May 26, 2015 to decide whether the matter has live issues or not.

While I’m not competent to pass a verdict, it is interesting to note that there are a plethora of Supreme Court decisions supporting the fact that the political parties have the legal liberty to select their candidates for election. For now, all fingers will remain crossed while awaiting the decision of the court on May 26, which is barely 78 hours to the inauguration of the next government. But if the truth be told, Mr Tambuwal worked very hard to win this mandate in a democratically conducted free, fair and substantially peaceful poll, certified by both local and international election observers to be among the best.

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).


Source: News Express

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