Ijaw, Urhobo leaders storm INEC HQ, demand implementation of Supreme Court judgment on Warri Federal Constituency
Stakeholders and leaders of Ijaw and Urhobo ethnic nationalities in the three Warri Local Government Areas of Delta state, Thursday, have stormed the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) office in Abuja in a peaceful protest, accusing INEC of making arrangement to proceed with the forthcoming general elections in the area without fresh delineation of wards and units as ordered by the Supreme Court.
While noting that there is no ambiguity in the said judgment and all that was expected from the INEC was to immediately carry out a fresh delineation of all the units and wards in the Warri Federal Constituency for the purposes of the conduct of the 2023 general elections as the Supreme Court have totally dismantled all formerly existing fictitious and illegal units and ward structures.
They were singing solidarity songs and carrying a banner with the inscription such as; ‘Independent National ElectoralCommission: Implement Supreme Court judgment on delineation of Warri Federal Constituency before 2023 Election.’
The leaders warned that the instant illegal arrangement by the REC is a violation of the decision of the apex court and could ignite fresh crisis in the Warri Federal Constituency.
Speaking through a statement jointly signed by Chief Monday Keme, for the Ijaws of Warri South West, Chief Westham Okumagba, for the Urhobos of Warri South Local Government Area and Mackson Aboh for the Ijaws of Warri Noth Local Government Area, and read at the floor of the protest, insisted that they will use all available legal means to resist any attempt by INEC whether as a statutory body or in collaboration with third parties to stampede the judgment of the Supreme Court.
Read the communique below:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A MEETING OF THE IJAWS AND URHOBOS OF WARRI FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY HELD AT THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY, ABUJA ON THURSDAY 9TH FEBRUARY, 2023.
The Ijaws and the Urhobos of Warri Federal Constituency of Delta State held a meeting at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Thursday the 9th day of February, 2023.
The meeting had in attendance all the Appellants in the Supreme Court in Suit No: SC/413/2016: HON. GEORGE U. TIMINIMI & 9 ORS V. INEC., delivered on 2nd December 2022 and leaders from the Ijaw and Urhobo extraction in the Warri Federal Constituency of Delta State who decided as a matter of urgency to take steps to enlighten members of the Nigerian public, the international community, security agencies and members of the press of the willful/tacit refusal of INEC to abide by the unambiguous orders of the Supreme Court in the Warri Federal Constituency after a legal battle spanning a period of eleven (11) years.
After exhaustive deliberations, the Ijaws and the Urhobos of Warri Federal Constituency of Delta State without any dissent resolved that there is the need for members of the Nigerian public, the international community, security agencies and members of the press to be informed as follows:
That sometime in 2011, the Appellants in the Supreme Court case with Suit No: SC/413/2016: HON. GEORGE U. TIMINIMI & 9 ORS v. INEC having acknowledged the overwhelming fictitious units and ward structures in the Warri Federal Constituency of Delta State, which were been used to rig elections and subvert the will of the people of Warri Federal Constituency and having exhausted all available mechanisms to correct these fictitious structures, approached the Federal High Court and filed a suit against INEC seeking the Court to amongst other things order a “fresh delineation of all that units and wards in the Warri Federal Constituency” for the purpose of future elections and that this suit was dismissed at the lower Court.
That upon appeal to the Court of Appeal, Benin, the Court of Appeal aligned with the decision of the lower Court and further dismissed the appeal. However, being dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the Appellants further appealed to the Supreme Court.
That in a well-considered decision, with the lead judgment delivered by the Hon. Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji, JSC, the Supreme Court on the 2nd of December, 2022 agreed with the appellants and ordered the INEC to carry out a fresh delineation of “all that units and wards in the Warri Federal Constituency for the purposes of future elections”.
Without an iota of doubt, there is no ambiguity in the said judgment and all that was expected from the INEC was to immediately carry out a fresh delineation of all the units and wards in the Warri Federal Constituency for the purposes of the conduct of the 2023 general elections; the Supreme Court having totally dismantled all formerly existing fictitious and illegal units and ward structures.
That as part of our resolve and commitments to support the INEC in the said delineation exercise as ordered by the Supreme Court, we both individually and severally wrote to INEC on the said judgment calling for its immediate enforcement. Our letters are dated the 28th day of December, 2022. It is however surprising that despite the said letters, INEC never deemed it necessary to respond to our letters or contact us in response to our demands.
That for us, the orders of the Supreme Court must be enforced to the latter not minding whose ox is gored. The order is that delineation should be done for the purposes of conducting future elections.
That we shall therefore use all available legal means to resist any attempt by INEC whether as a statutory body or in collaboration with third parties to stampede the judgment of the Supreme Court.
That we have it on good authority that in a meeting convened by the Delta State Resident Electoral Commissioner on 1st February 2023, at Asaba, where the Appellants in the said suit were not officially invited, a decision had already been reached that the elections would proceed without the delineation exercise as against the direct, unambiguous and clear statement of the supreme court that fresh delineation of units and wards should precede future elections.
This illegal arrangement by the said REC is a violation of the decision of the apex court and could ignite fresh crisis in the Warri Federal Constituency.
That the REC should in the present circumstance be an unbiased umpire, carryout his professional duties to the best of his abilities and engage all the relevant stakeholders in this matter whose interest may one way or the other be affected by the enforcement of this judgment before making any decision.
That we know that if the INEC is sincere and ready to tow the path of justice, it will not take INEC too many days to conclude the delineation process in the entire constituency. Therefore, to proceed to conduct elections without first carrying out the delineation exercise is clearly contempt of court which would be dealt with accordingly.
That we wish to make it manifestly clear that our position is not against the conduct of elections, but rather that the delineation of the units and wards should precede the conduct of elections in the Warri Federal Constituency as against conducting elections on the already destroyed fictitious units and ward structures which would eventually amount to a nullity that cannot be salvaged by any political arrangement.
That it must be emphasized also that we do not in any way have any dispute or grouse against any politician or interests. Our case is that INEC should go ahead and commence the delineation exercise as ordered by the Supreme Court. Accordingly, we will not hesitate to invoke further legal proceedings against officials of INEC at the Supreme Court in the event that INEC fails to comply with our demand.
That we implore the Nigerian public, security agencies, the international community, the people of Warri Federal Constituency and all well-meaning Nigerians to fix their gaze on the grave anomaly going on at INEC as the Commission seeks to put the unambiguous judgment of the supreme court on its head.
That we thank the Justices of the Supreme Court for their industry and forthrightness in correcting the injustice in the Warri Federal Constituency by resetting the Constituency on the path of justice, truth and equity through its judgment in the above referenced suit.
That we also express our profound gratitude to the ten (10) appellants who went out of their way and comfort to fight this cause up to the Supreme Court.