A cross section of Nigerians have reportedly welcomed as good news the annulment of the election of Senate President David Mark over flawed elections. This comes after the Elections Tribunal, which was set up to adjudicate last year’s April elections found that the election of Senator Mark was illegal. Political observers say the ruling could have a significant impact on the election of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, which was challenged in court by two opposition parties. That verdict is expected tomorrow (Tuesday). Both international and local observers described last April’s general elections as largely flawed. Professor Kabiru Mato is a political science Professor at the University of Abuja. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, that some Nigerian’s admit the senate president did not win the election.
“I think the verdict from the election tribunal on Saturday simply reaffirms the positions several Nigerians have held over a long time since the elections in April 2007. It was nothing spectacularly new. There were a lot of Nigerians were already of the opinion that the current president of the senate David Mark did not really win the election. It’s a fraud; it’s similar to what happened in Kenya. And so it’s not surprising to most Nigerians,” Mato noted.
He said the election tribunals have been relatively fair in their rulings the results of last April’s elections, which were described as flawed by both local and international observers.
“I think the greatest joy that Nigerians and especially, the people of Benue state should celebrate at this time is the very fact that they have one of the best election petition tribunals in the country. I’m sure Nigerians are celebrating it; we did not take the Kenya option. We decided to wait and see what the Nigerian judiciary in its current form was going to come up with. And I’m sure quite a lot of us are not disgruntled with the results that have so far come out of this election petition. It’s a welcome development,” he said.
Mato said the opposition’s challenge on the president’s eligibility is justified.
“To be honest with you the election of President Yar’Adua was not any particularly different from the rest of the other elections that were held in this country. Of course the presidential election was even more horrible than the state assembly and local government elections that were conducted seven days earlier. The presidential elections was frustrated by the inability of INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) to supply the necessary materials to the nooks and crannies of the entire country in Nigeria. Whatever, side the judgment goes, Nigerians should be ale to accept that way it is,” Mato pointed out.
He denied there would be a power vacuum if the Tuesday’s judgment goes against President Yar’Adua.
“There wouldn’t be any power vacuum. Number one is that this is the court of such instance in the case of both the president and the senate president. They all have the opportunity to appeal to the next level of course which is the last level. In the case of the senate president he has the opportunity to go to the Court of Appeals saying he is not satisfied with the ruling of the election tribunal,” he said.
Meanwhile under Nigeria’s constitution, the Senate president would take over the reins temporarily if the president and vice-president were both forced to step down, a situation that could arise if their election is ruled invalid tomorrow (Tuesday).