The Law According to Gesila Khan

By Solomon Okocha

Barely twenty four hours after the April 11 2015 Gubernatorial and House of Assembly Elections – the worst elections in the history of Rivers State, members of the All Progressives Congress marched to the Rivers State INEC office in protest against the shambolic elections that were conducted by the controversial INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Gesila Khan. They demanded that the elections should be cancelled because it was marred by wide spread violence, irregularities and electoral fraud. International Monitors, European Union, US Embassy, Media Houses, and other National Independent Monitors also toed the same path, and joined their voices in insisting that there were indeed no elections in Rivers State.

Amidst the hues and cries, former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attihiru Jega, went ahead to declare the result of that widely acclaimed chaotic electoral process, on the basis that even though there were reported cases of violence, irregularity and electoral fraud, he still did not have enough reasons to cancel the elections, because the Rivers INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Gesila Khan, being the person who is in charge of elections in Rivers State, had declared that elections were free and fair, even when the entire world saw something entirely different. In a nut shell, Prof Jega publicly admitted that his hands were tied based on the provisions of the electoral act, therefore, he was duty bound to assimilate and disseminate any information that Gesila Khan submits hook, line, and sinker.

As law abiding citizens, the Rivers APC gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, and all the APC candidates for the House of Assembly Elections approached the Rivers State Elections Petitions Tribunal to seek the face of the law in the matter. Since then, the PDP Candidate in the 2015 Gubernatorial Elections, INEC REC Gesila Khan in connivance with the PDP, has endlessly tried to frustrate the wheel of justice. From one frivolous application to another, they sought to dismiss, delay, and, dissuade the proceedings of the Elections Petitions Tribunal. But in all, the Tribunal has maintained that the matter must be heard, and had twice ordered INEC to make available all electoral materials used in the Rivers State 2015 elections, and allow APC to inspect them. In what appeared to be a clear case of contempt of court, and a wanton disregard for the sanctity of the Nigerian State, Gesila Khan and her cohorts brazenly disobeyed court orders and refused the APC from inspecting the electoral materials as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. As I write this piece, over twenty seven petitions have so far been lodged with INEC, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security (DSS), and other relevant agencies. Apart from the fact that Gesila Khan and Co had refused APC from inspecting the electoral materials as ordered by the Rivers State Elections Petitions Tribunal on two occasions, they have also trampled on the constitutional rights of the petitioners: there is a provision in the Electoral Act as amended, that gives the window of 7 days after the elections for petitioners to inspect electoral materials. In a bid to initiate another lawful transmission of their grievances to the necessary quarters, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and all the APC candidates in the last elections in Rivers State, today, marched to the headquarters of INEC in Abuja, to register their complaints. But lo and behold, they were greeted by fumes of toxic gases, erupting from canisters, thrown at them by DSP A. Amanna, an overzealous police officer, probably working on the orders of INEC. But in a revolutionary type of courage and resilience, the peaceful protesters stood their ground and demanded that their voice must be heard. After several hours of resistance, the acting INEC Chairman, Mrs. Amina Zakari, sent one of her staff to receive the petition on her behalf. On the records, this is the twenty eight’ petition that has been submitted to INEC and Security Agencies on this very matter.

Fellow Nigerians, this raises the question of the type of Judicial system that we operate in Nigeria. Are we now a country where laws and orders of court are flagrantly disobeyed without any consequence? Is it that the instrument of law becomes active only when it has to do with the poor Nigerian boy who steals beans because of hunger? Or is the sound of the gavel only heard when those who cannot afford the usual exorbitant legal fees appear in court? Otherwise, why is it that Gesila Khan and her cohorts have not been latched with the weight of comeuppance, even when they have clearly committed criminal offences?

As a social scientist, I know that there is a limit to the level of oppression that a man who is standing on his right right can take. The APC in Rivers State has suffered the worst kind of electoral robbery in the history of elections the world over, and at such, it will be very unwise to further frustrate them in the hallowed chambers of the Court, which is supposed to be the final hope of the Common Man. The Police and other security agencies ought to rise up and take up their responsibility, which is to implement the law and orders of the Court. The Federal Government of Nigeria must urgently step into the situation so as to avert the looming breakdown of Law and order in Rivers State, and I pray that the law of our country, rather than the law according to Gesila Khan, will prevail.

You can also follow Solomon Okocha on Twitter@Okocha_info

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