By Raymond Nkannebe Esq.
One struggles to find the right word to capture the chicanery that passes for internal democracy in Nigeria. The brand of politicians that appeared onto the political firmament with the return of democracy in 1999 with their inflated sense of importance and voracious taste for power worryingly turned the field of politics to one where anything goes riding roughshod on constitutionalism and getting away with it in many cases, save for occasional moments where an over-stretched judiciary rises up in defence of democracy as was seen in the landmark decision of the apex Court in the case of Amaechi v INEC (2009) 10 WRN 1 and even more recently the decision of the same Court in the case of Mato v Hermber (2017) LPELR-42765(SC) to name a few. In the particular case of Amaechi, eminent Professor of Law, Itse Sagay SAN, described the judgement of the court as a “groundbreaking one, spinning of and spurring many legal off-shoots, principles and precedents in Nigerian Electoral Law and practice and ushering in a more civilized and enlightened political culture”.
The power-by-all-means syndrome that afflicts our overrated political class unfortunately have come with great cost for internal democracy in Nigeria. And when one expects the situation to get better, it has arguably gotten worse. Nothing signposts this more, than the parallel congresses that characterized many state organs of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the build up to the recently held general elections. And without a doubt, Rivers, Imo and just recently Zamfara state are currently bearing the highest lump of the prostitution of the internal processes of the party.
It is against the backdrop of this therefore that the recent decision of the Supreme Court over the political crisis that rocked the APC in Abdulaziz Yari’s Zamfara is both instructive and commendable irrespective of how harsh it may be perceived in some quarters. By holding that the ruling APC did not conduct a valid primary election in the state with crude implications for the candidates purportedly elected under its platform at the recently concluded election, the apex Court has once again drummed home the message that Nigeria is a nation under laws to which political parties and politicians alike are bound.
In an article entitled “Towards a Political Hygiene in Intra-Party Politics” published last year few days to the flag-off of party primaries by INEC, I had underscored the recurrent problem of intra-party politics in Nigeria thus:
“At the core of intra party disputes and disaffection on the part of members is the disrespect of the constitution of political parties by their hierarchy; non-compliance with laid down rules and regulations and the habitual compromise and impunity by so called godfathers with an inflated sense of their importance over the affairs of the party. One veritable feature of this ill democratic practice is the illegal substitution of persons who emerge victorious at state primaries for other persons under circumstances that leave a sour taste in the mouth. Indeed, in the numerous cases that have made their way to the court for determination by aggrieved party members, this thread is always to be seen. But while some of these aspirants get lucky by having the decision of the party reversed, many others are often not so lucky. Hence the ceaseless cross carpeting and other signs of protest that have become a feature of partisan politics in our chequered history”.
I had also admonished in that article that going into the primaries (irrespective of which method that has been adopted by the state caucuses of the individual party), the irreducible minimum conduct expected by those to spearhead the exercise irrespective of the political party in question, should be one that accords with the laid down provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 and the individual party’s constitution and INEC’S guidelines and regulations as anything short of these would not only be setting the democratic clock of the nation backward, but also a recipe for disaster in the individual party.
Apparently, these admonitions meant nothing to many politicians and their political party. To be sure, the circumstances that led to the non-holding of a valid party primaries in Zamfara state finds its root in the major albatross around the neck of party-politics in Nigeria namely, the parochial interest of one man to lord his will over others thus feeding the emotions that almost always give rise to renegade or splinter factions within the party. In Rivers State, Sen. Magnus Abe and transport minister Rotimi Amaechi represented these conflicting interests, while in Imo State, incumbent governor Rochas Okorocha and his adversary, Sen. Hope Uzodinma were very visible. In Delta, Enugu, Adamawa, Bauchi amongst other states, the ugly head of this monster was also visible with tell-tale consequences here and there.
But by no means is the ruling APC the only affected party here. Not at all. if the situation in the APC has gained more commentary in recent times, it is perhaps because it is the ruling party. Of course, the PDP era was also marked by the same crisis and until recently was lurked in a fratricidal leadership crisis until the same apex court came to the rescue.
In my referenced article above, I had written of the main opposition party thus: “At the commanding heights of the PDP rule, we saw the elevation of sharp practices in the internal affairs of a political party taken to a whole new dimension. This impunity which gained traction under the watch of former president Olusegun Obasanjo perhaps had its ugliest manifestation in Anambra, Imo and Rivers states to the utter embarrassment of the civilised world. Indeed one could say, without any fear of contradiction that intra-party corruption as we have it today, remains one of the ugliest legacies of the current opposition party PDP, who while it enjoyed its status as the ruling party within the space of 16 years, nearly institutionalized a culture of needless intra-party squabbles through sundry acts of subterfuge and injustice in deciding who gets what, when and how within the hierarchy of the party.”
Nor are the smaller political parties excepted. In the state chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Imo State for example, it is the complaints of alleged hijacking of the party by some quarters that necessitated the decamping of a former governor of the state to the Accord party to contest the gubernatorial election almost at the eve of the election. And at the national level of the party its leadership was until recently mired in serious crisis arising from the non-observance of party processes until same was resolved by the apex Court rightly or wrongly mid last year.
All of these scenarios unfortunately leave an ugly picture of intra-party politics in Nigeria- which needless to say remains the foundation of representational democracy. But an undisciplined political class must be disciplined one way or another. And this is what the judgement of the Supreme Court represents in Zamfara. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. It is in many respects a necessary hemlock down the throat of the state chapter of the ruling APC in Zamfara for daring to mortgage the divergent interests of the party hierarchy in the state to the whims and caprices of one man. Through and through, the judgment must be a hurtful reminder of how not to conduct intra-party affairs and the need for conforming to the minimum requirements of the law in party affairs.
But the greatest credit in all of these must go to the judiciary- that institution that continues to live up to its billing as the last hope of the common man; for rising courageously at opportune moments to defend our cherished democracy and instill discipline where impunity has become the rule of thumb.
Raymond Nkannebe is a legal practitioner and public interest analyst and writes from Lagos.
Lagos Driver Steals Boss’ Car, Arrested in Benin
By Eric Elezuo
The Lagos State Police Command has reported the arrest of one Ibeh George Udoka, for driving away his principal’s Toyota car to Imo State for sale.
A statement by the Command’s Public Relations Office, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, revealed that the suspect made away with the car when his boss, one Mrs Akinola Ibironke, asked him to deliver it to her machanic. The driver left with the car, and was not since ever since
“On 4th May, 2021, at about 1pm, one Mrs Akinola Ibironke, f, came to Idimu Police Division and reported that her driver by name Ibeh George Udoka, m, whom she handed her Toyota Corola vehicle, with Registration No. ABC 801 FU, to deliver to her mechanic for repairs, on 3rd May, 2021, was not seen and ever since then his phone number had been switched off,” Adejobi said.
He explained further that owing to the diligent efforts of the men of the Idimu Division, the driver was intercepted in Benin and arrested.
“The Police operatives attached to Idimu Division of the Lagos State Police Command swung into action and relayed repeated radio messages to all police formations across the country for possible recovery of the car. Due to the command’s continuous tracking of the driver, the Lagos Police operatives alerted the policemen in Edo State, on 6th May, 2021 and the driver was intercepted with the car in Benin City, on his way to Imo state.
“In response to the call from Edo State Command and in compliance with the directive of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, the police operatives from the Lagos State Police Command proceeded to Edo State Command for the recovery and apprehension of the suspect,” the statement read.
Adejobi also said that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu “has applauded the efforts and synergy between the two Police Commands, Lagos and Edo, in recovering and apprehending the car and the suspect respectively.”
A thorough investigation of the matter towards bringing the suspect to book has been ordered by the Commissioner.
NDLEA Merges Tactical Teams, Reshuffles Directors
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has carried out a reshuffle of its directors, and renamed its special weapons and tactics team (SWAT).
Buba Marwa, NDLEA chairman, announced the development at a meeting with directors in Abuja.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by Femi Babafemi, NDLEA spokesperson, all the tactical teams have been merged under one unit — ‘Strike Force’.
“The reshuffling was announced by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), during a meeting with directors at the Agency’s headquarters in Abuja on Monday, 10th May 2021. He said the new movement was to propel the Agency to greater achievements,” the statement read.
“In the new changes which take effect from Tuesday, 11th May, 2021, the former director of administration and establishment, Ezekiel Epeso, becomes the director, technical services; the former head of internal affairs, Sani Ibrahim Sani, becomes the new director of administration and establishment; while Pius Gamde, an assistant director, legal services, is now director, internal affairs/provost marshal of the Agency.
“The former director of technical services, Ahmed Ninigi, has now been moved to a newly created directorate as commander, strike force/director, special duties.
“According to Gen. Marwa, the various tactical and SWAT teams across the commands have been merged and renamed strike force, which will now function under the new directorate headed by Ninigi.”
Speaking on the development, Marwa added that the decision was taken to improve on efforts to address drug trafficking in the country.
“What we are doing now is to reposition the NDLEA to be able to effectively take on the drug cartels and syndicates operating in any part of the country,” he said.
Delta Police Rescue Kidnap Victim, Recover Vehicles, Weapons, Arrest Suspects
In its efforts to rid the state of crimes and criminal elements, the Delta State Police Command has recorded massive landmarks to checkmate the activities of criminals.
According to a statement by the Command’s PPRO, DSP Edafe Bright, in a space of one week, a kidnap victim was rescued just as there were interceptions of drug and pipeline related crimes.
Bright reiterated the state’s Commissioner of Police warning to criminals to turn a new leaf or vacate the state as there is no hiding place for crime and criminal elements in the state.
Read the statement in details:
1.On the 8/5/2021 at about 2000hrs, information got to the divisional police officer Sapele Division CSP Harrison Nwabuisi that one Jeffrey Emekume ‘m’ 27yrs was kidnapped along Eku Abraka road Eku with his Lexus Jeep sky blue with Reg. No. RSH 716 AX makes a U-turn head to Sapele road. The DPO Sapele swiftly mobilized and led Crack Teams into the bush, The hoodlum who could not withstand the relentless effort of the police abandon the victim and fled. The kidnapped victim was rescued and the Lexus Jeep was recovered. Effort is ongoing to track and arrest the fleeing suspects.
2.On the 9/5/2021 at about 1820hrs, based on intelligent gathered by the divisional police officer ‘A’ division Warri CSP T.Y. MAHMUD, mobilized Rapid Response Team and raided a black spot at Hausa Quarters where one Aliyu Adamu ‘m’ 20yrs was arrested with two hundred and thirty seven wraps of weed suspected to be Indian hemp. Suspect allegedly confessed to be a major dealer in Indian Hemp. Investigation is ongoing.
3.On the 7/5/2021 at about 2240hrs, ‘B’ division warri Patrol team while on patrol around Okumagba Estate sighted a tricycle of two occupants, immediately they sighted the Police team they put off the headlight of the tricycle. As the Police moved closer to the tricycle it was observed that the occupants had abandon the tricycle and ran away possibly to a nearby bush. When search was conducted on the tricycle a locally made gun and live cartridge was recovered while the tricycle with Reg. No. EHR 247 QF was impounded. The bush was comb with a view to arresting the fleeing hoodlum. Meanwhile continuous manhunt is on to arrest and bring them to book.
4.On the 10/5/2021 at about 1030hrs, information was received that mob were attacking three (3) kidnapping suspects who attempted to kidnap a victim whose identity was disclosed at Oghara Junction.
Consequently, The divisional police officer Oghara division mobilized patrol teams and vigilante teams to the scene. And rescued the Three suspects which includes one Onome Efetobore ‘m’ a notorious criminal that has been in a police wanted list, Collins (surname unknown) also a known notorious kidnapper and armed robber who escaped from Benin correctional facility during EndSARS protest and one Glory Reuben ‘m’ also a notorious criminal. They were seriously beaten, rushed to the hospital by the police where they were later confirmed dead at General Hospital Oghara. Exhibits recovered include a locally made pistol and three (3) live cartridges.
The Commissioner of Police advised members of the public to work with the police, and and stay away from jungle justice.
5.On the 8/5/2021 at about 1745hrs, Anti-Crime Patrol of ‘A’ Division Warri while on routine patrol intercepted lorry with Reg. No. BDG 358 YA with five (5) suspects, on searching, the lorry was loaded with one hundred and seventy (170) pieces of 6inchs already cut to various sizes. The suspects are allegedly experts in the act of vandalizing Federal Government Pipeline at Ogulagha Dried Land.
The five occupants Lukeman Jimoh ‘m’ 40yrs, Shola Bimigo ‘m’, Yahaya Ikane ‘m’ 55yrs, Ebi Yeregha ‘m’ 41yrs and Lawal Aliyu ‘m’ 35yrs were arrested while the lorry with Reg. No. BDG 358 YA was impounded. Investigation is ongoing.