Uduaghan’s Tenure Ends in May 2011 -INEC —Let the Court Decide -Aides

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday affirmed that the tenure of Delta State governor-elect, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, ends on May 28, this year. But Uduaghan kicked, saying only the judiciary could determine his tenure. By the INEC position, Uduaghan, who emerged winner of Thursday’s rerun governorship election, has less than five months to spend in office and would have, by that, completed a term of four years. Speaking in a telephone chat with our correspondent, Mr. Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to Prof. Attahiru Jega, chairman of INEC, said the agency had put the rerun election behind it and was preparing for a governorship election in Delta, holding in April. On the legality of denying Uduaghan a fresh, four-year tenure, Idowu explained thus: “Under the law, there is going to be election in Delta State because it is contained in the electoral act, that the time a governor spent in office before the date his election was annulled shall be taken into account. “That provision is in the electoral act and the electoral act is a subsisting law.”Idowu said the same fate awaited five other governors of Bayelsa, Kogi, Adamawa, Rivers and Sokoto States respectively, whose tenure would lapse counting from the day of their original inauguration. But in his reaction, Uduaghan said he would await the verdict of the Appeal Court on the vexed issue, even as he was prepared to stand another election for a second term in office, come April. Speaking on behalf of the governor-elect, one of his aides, Mr. Felix Ofou, said “we are waiting for the Appeal Court to resolve the controversy.” “Recall that the Appeal Court, in ordering for a rerun election, said no election took place in Delta State in 2007. So, what is the justification of the INEC deciding to recognise an election that the court had cancelled? He asked rhetorically.Ofou said his principal was not scared of returning to the campaign field next April, assuring, “If INEC is determined to conduct the election in April, my governor is also prepared to campaign for a second term. “But honestly speaking, I believe that the Appeal Court will soon rule that our tenure has just started,” Ofou said. Already, the Adamawa State governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd) and the ousted governor of Ekiti, Mr. Segun Oni, are in the Appeal Court, seeking the appellate court’s reversal of the judgement of a Jos Federal High Court in Plateau State, which ruled that Oni’s tenure ended on May 28, 2011, despite a rerun election which ushered him in for a supposed fresh tenure.However, Oni’s position in the appeal case became naturally atrophied with his sack by the Appeal Court. In his own rection to the matter, governor Uduaghan’s Communications Manager, Paul Odili, said: “ There is a process to get a High Court to look at the judgment and see if it was a rerun or fresh election.”According to Odili, “We do not know what the court may determine yet.”All this is coming amid very rife speculations that Governor Uduaghan will decide to rest the matter once and for all by heading to the Courts himself  and asking the court to rule that his tenure began afresh on January 10 when he was inaugurated.A very reliable source confirmed to Delta Focus that,  “A lot of people are talking about the rerun, but they have not seen the copy of that judgment because all through the 60-page document signed by the chairman and members of the panel, there was no place rerun was mentioned. The ruling kept on talking about fresh election and all these things would have to be explained.”Speaking further the Source said that, “The areas where the governor may seek interpretation include whether it was a fresh election on January 6 or a rerun.  And if it is a fresh election, we would want to know if it has a four-month or four-year tenure. In other words we would like to know if our governor is serving on the first certificate of return that has already returned to INEC after that election was ‘quashed’, or if he is serving on the fresh certificate given to him on January 10 which certified his swearing-in as the authentic Governor of Delta state”It will be recalled that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan himself had raised these very posers concerning the Appeal Court ruling, in several interviews he granted during his days on ‘sabbatical’,  after the annulment of the April 2007 election. Many pundit are of the opinion that the matter has now achieved an even greater urgency, with the news that Chief Great Ogboru, the defeated governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), in the January 6, 2011 re-run election, has already filed a petition at the election tribunal, seekin that the Court declares him the actual winner of the re-run election, which constitutionally carries a four-year tenure, if it comes to pass.

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