By Jezie Ekejiuha
THE Anambra State governorshipÂ election conducted by theÂ Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Saturday, FebruaryÂ 6,2010 in which the incumbent governor, Governor Peter Obi of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, was declared the winner has come and gone but the memories still lingers.
The one controversial aspect of that poll which has refused to die off among the political pundits in the state was the issue raised by ex-Governor Chris Ngige, the Action Congress, AC, standard bearer and the runners-up in that election in which he strongly posited that the election was inconclusive which, according to him, necessitated a re-run election between him and Obi.
Incidentally, this controversial issue has pitted the camp of Dr. Ngige against (hat of Governor Obi, thus precipitating an avalanche of arguments and counter arguments between the two governorship gladiators in favour of their positions. According to press reports. Dr. Ngige has rejected the results by INEC which declared Governor Obi, winner and declared the election inconclusive and called for a second election between him and Obi. Ngige said that Obi did not win 25 percent of 21 local government areas, that is 14 local government areas as stipulated in section 179(2)(b)of the 1999 constitution insisting that Obi fell short of the rule by one local government area.
According to Ngigeâ€™s computation based on â€œall the votes castâ€- the exact words of the constitution, which includes total invalid voles cast and total valid votes cast, making up total votes cast as recorded in INECâ€™S original result sheet -Governor Obi won 25 percent in only 13 local government areas namely Agnata, Anaocha, Awka North, Awka South, Ekwusigo, Njikoka, Orumba North, Orumba South, Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Ogbaru, Nnewi North and Ihiala,
In a swift and confrontational reaction, according to press reports and advertorials.
Governor Obi through the State Chairman of his party, APGA, Mr. Mike Kwentoh, Prof. S. I. Onyeaguand Dr. Ray Okafbr, professors of statistics at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, UNIZlK, and University of Lagos, UNILAG, respectively, countered and took Dr. Ngige to the cleaners. According to Mr. Kwentoh, they (Ngige and Soludo) are now claiming that Peter Obi did not get 25 percent of total votes cast in 14 local government areas by mischievously calculating invalid or void votes which are known even by the uneducated as not forming part of total votes cast in any election in any part of the world
In the exact words of professorial advertorial by Prof Onyeagu at page 2 of Daily Sun, Monday, February 22,2010 he posited; â€œin statistical calculations, only valid votes and actual votes scored by contestants are used to calculate the percentages… Obi scored above 25% in 15 local government areas. Two-third of the 21 local government areas is 14. Mr Peter Obi was declared winner since he won in 15 local government areas whereas he needed only 14 local government areas.
The local government areas are: Aguata, Anambra East, Anambra West, Anaocha, Awka North, Awka South, Ekwusigo, Njikoka, Orumba North, Orumba South, Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Ogham, Nnewi North and Ihialaâ€. In his own professorial advertorial. Dr. Okafor at page 2 of Daily Sun, Friday. February 26,2010, concurred with his colleague that Mr Obi secured 25% of the valid votes in the same 15 of the 21 local government areas of Anambra Slate named by Prof. Onyeagu above, having earlier submitted that â€œto the extent that the electoral umpire INEC had ruled some votes invalid, any consideration of the said voles is nonsensical. Consequent upon this, the statistical analysis carried out here pertains to valid voles… …derived therefrom.
Looking at the above disputation, the difference between Mr Obi and Dr. Ngige is clear: Ngigeâ€™s computation is based on â€˜ â€˜all the votes castâ€ that is total votes cast (which includes total invalid votes cast and total valid votes cast) and on this basis Obi did not secure 25% in Anambra East and Anambra West, thus reducing his number of local government areas lo 13 which is short ofI4 and, according to him, necessitated a second election On (he other hand.
Obiâ€™s computation is based on only the total valid votes cast and on this basis secured 25% in Anambra East and Anambra West, thus increasing his number of local government areas to 15 which, according to him, satisfied the constitutional requirement to be declared the winner of the election.
The die is cast Who won? Who goofed? Obi? Ngige? Soludo? INEC? The answer lies in the tribunal of time. The exact words of the relevant provision of section 179(2) (b)and3(a)(b)of the 1999constitution in issue reads. â€œ(2) A candidate for an election to the office of Governor of a state shall be deemed to have been duly elected where there being two or more candidates-(b) he has not less than â€˜/â€¢< of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state.
(3) In default of a candidate duly elected in accordance with subsection (2) of this section there shall be a second election in accordance with subsection (4) of this section at which the only candidates shall be- (a) the candidate who secured the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) one among the remaining candidates who secured a majority of votes in the highest number of local government areas in the state, so however that where there are more than one candidate with a majority of votes in the highest number of local government areas, the candidate among them with the next highest total of votes cast at the election shall be the second candidateâ€.
Oneâ€™s informed opinion judgment on the above contending issues, (if the INECâ€™S original results of the said governorship election published by the above mentioned advertorials is to be reckoned with), and, on the basis of the exact words used in the above subsection (2) (b) of the constitution, a second election is imperative, mandatory and constitutionally guaranteed. Mutatis mutandis, the first election was inconclusive.
A winner ought not to have been declared by INEC. The reasons are not farfetched. The words used in the subsection are simple and ordinary. It must be given a literal interpretation. The phrase â€œall the voles castâ€ used in the subsection connotes and means total voles cast as stated in INECâ€™s result sheet and includes both the total invalid votes cast and total valid votes cast.
The logical intention of (he makers of the constitution is to recognize the constitutional right of every Nigerian citizen whose name is on the voters register, to vote or be voted for, whether or not such voting right is eventually voided or invalidated by the discretionary whims or caprices of the electoral officer rightly or wrongly. Moreover, it is trite law, supported by plethora of Supreme Court authorities, that in interpreting written agreements, contracts, constitutions or any written law or acts of parliament, the judgeâ€™s hands are lied.
A judge shall not add, remove, amend no matter how minute the addition, removal or amendment may be, as doing so amounts to descending into the arena of lawmaking parliament.
The Supreme Court and in fact any other court is bound by the exact words of the written law as long as the words used are simple, ordinary and docs not give room for double meaning, even if heaven fall, or it will exert injustice on any party, person or authority
The only option open to the society is to amend the constitution through its lawmaking parliament to cure the manifest defect found, and or change the intentionof the lawmakers to come to terms with contemporary reality.
No room for mathematical or statistical satisfaction. Only the spirits and letters of the constitution must be satisfied as anything that is inconsistent with it is void to the extent of the inconsistency. A void or an invalid thing per se does not count in reality. In other words, it is a nullity.
But, when the supreme law of the land, the constitution, provides that everything (including man-made invalid things) should be computed or counted in its own words and intentions, that is the law of the land and must be upheld. Now a rider. Only recently, one read that Dr Ngige has catapulted his above grievances into an election petition at the election tribunal. No one has as yet heard anything from Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, POP, candidate, who if the election tribunal upholds Ngigeâ€™s ground one prayer, will benefit from the second election.
If the INECâ€™s original results published in the above mentioned advertorials are anything to go by, Prof. Soludo, not Dr. Ngige, is the one constitutionally guaranteed by the constitution to face Mr Peter Obi, if Ngigeâ€™s ground one prayer succeeds. But this is politics, where nothing is permanent. No one can rule out an accord between Dr. Ngige and Prof Soludo. The exact words used in subsection <3)(b) above clearly stated â€œone among the remaining candidates who secured majority of votes in the highest number of local government areas in the stateâ€.
There is no doubt that Prof. Soludo secured a majority of votes in the highest number of local government areas of the state that is seven local government areas against Dr. Ngigeâ€™s five local government areas. Again, this is founded on the grain of logic and jurisprudence that the intention of the makers of the constitution is to recognize the spread and diversity of support, rather than simple majority of votes, the basis of which a candidate can win a large number of votes in only but just one or two hugely populated local government areas.
The makers of the Nigerian constitution are wisemen like king Solomon and so there is no way their wisdom can be allowed to be toyed with just to satisfy someoneâ€™s selfish interest. The logic and jurisprudence of the constitution of the land, which is the grundnorm, must be respected at all times by all citizens irrespective of sex, position, class and or religious, political or tribal affiliation.