Friday, May 8, 2020 10:33 am
By Richard Akinnola
The Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), was an amorphous and shadowy group set up by the Babangida junta to elongate its stay in office. It was being coordinated by Babangida’s Chief spook, Brigadier Haliru Akilu, Chief Arthur Nzeribe and one Abimbola Davies, who was the Director of Organisation.
They had earlier tried to stop the June 12, 1993 presidential election by approaching the court. A pliable judge had to be secured to hear the matter and Brigadier Akilu was mandated to contact the Chief Judge of Abuja, Dahiru Saleh, (who died yesterday) who worked hands- in- glove with the government and a willing accomplice in the conspiracy against democracy.
Akilu was to make sure the case was assigned to a “trusted” judge who could do their bidding. But the “trusted” judge was out of town and her arrival had to be awaited before the case was assigned.
The Judge, Mrs Bassey Ikpeme(now late), was quickly recalled from Lagos where she was on a brief visit. Justice Ikpeme, a close associate of Clement Akpamgbo, the Justice Minister, did not hesitate in doing their bidding by stopping the election late on June 10, 1993.
A flurry of activities happened within 24 hours, with Humphrey Nwosu, the NEC Chairman insisting on going ahead with the election because the Transition Decree had ousted the jurisdiction of courts in matters of the election.
Akilu reportedly slapped Nwosu when the latter insisted on going on with the election.
After failing to stop the June 12, 1993 election, and seeing that with the results already declared, that Abiola was coasting to victory, the ABN hatched another plan to stop further announcements of the results.
Once again, they approached the court. And of course, Justice Saleh was around to handle it. This time, he didn’t assign it to any other judge. He decided to hear the matter himself. Guess what? Though the suit filed was Motion on Notice, where the other party, that is, NEC would be heard, Saleh decided to hear the matter ex parte in Chambers, stopping further announcements of the results.
Meanwhile, legal fireworks were ignited at various courts in the country following the halting of the announcement of further results by Justice Saleh.
In Benin, a member of the Bendel State House of Assembly, Mr. Matthew Egbadon also went to a Benin High Court seeking for an order that NEC be compelled to release all the results of the Presidential election.
In his 26 paragraph affidavit, Mr. Egbadon stated that “If this application is not granted, I will suffer irreparable damage and mischief which cannot be compensated adequately or sufficiently by way of monetary damages as the Defendants’ acts will prejudice the chances of my party SDP (and invariably myself) in the political fortunes of the third Republic.”
In his ruling of June 16, 1993, Justice J.O. Sadoh of Benin High Court made an interim order of injunction “restraining the first, second and third Defendant’s (NEC, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu and Chief Electoral Officer of the Federation respectively) from further withholding, neglecting or refusing to release the authentic results of the presidential election conducted on June 12, 1993 in respect of the following 16 states…” pending the determination of the motion on notice filed simultaneously with this application.
I further order by way of interim order that the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants Attorney-General of the Federation, National Defence and Security council and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria respectively, to direct the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants to release the authentic results of the Presidential election in respect of the 16 states named above pending the determination of the motion on notice filed simultaneously with this application.
“The uncontroversial averments in the affidavit in support of this application show that the said 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants are refusing and or neglecting to perform their statutory duties. This to my mind is a disservice to the citizens of this great country.”
-Richard Akinnola (07012838381), lawyer, journalist and social critic, writes from Lagos. Full details are contained in his book -A MANDATE BURIED ALIVE