By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja
A legal luminary, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa (SAN) has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to intervene in the post election politically motivated violence and breakdown of law and order in Kogi state.
In a press statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Lokoja the legal practitioner decried the spate of violence on public institutions, facilities, political parties and individuals in the state.
Okutepa in the statement urged the Federal Government to save the souls of judges, lawyers and workers in Kogi state Election Petition Tribunal.
The Senior Legal Practitioner recalled that on the 4th of December 2023, the Secretary of Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal, Mr David Mike was attacked at guns points by hired political thugs in Lokoja.
He said that at the time the attack occurred, the Secretary was with copies of election petition filed on December 2, by the legal team of Alhaji Murtala Yakubu and Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Okutepa said that the petition was filed on December 2, adding, “The petition is No: EPT/KG/Gov/03/2023. The said petition was duly received and stamped on the 2/12/2023 and certified by Mr U. D. Mike On the said date.
“By the provisions of Section 285(5) of the 1999, election petitions are to be filed within 21 days after the date of the declaration of the result of the election.
“The result of the Kogi State Governorship Election was declared on the 12/11/2023. This petition was filed within time allowed by the constitution. The petition submitted was in three volumes. They are numbered volumes 1,2, and 3.
Okutepa said that the petition was filed within time, duly paid for, and completed copies were submitted and security deposit paid.
In spite of this, he said, “Some very uninformed and political miscreants who can accept to do any dirty job just for peanuts went to town in the name of an amorphous NGO, that claimed to be non-partisan and non-political, to misinform the public that SDP and its candidate did not file the petition within time.
“They made many incoherent and unfounded unintelligent allegations in the name of democracy and misconducted themselves professionally and then exhibited crass knowledge of law to satisfy their paid masters.
“As a legal practitioner in the legal team that prepared and filed the petition, I did not see any sense in the sponsored press statement issued by these learned gentlemen if indeed they are lawyers. They should have known better.
“My main worry here is the desperations being exhibited by some politicians in Kogi State who are afraid of allowing the conduct of the so called election of 11/11/2023 to be judicially examined.
“These anti democratic forces and agents of darkness have done everything since after that election to stop the examinations of the conduct of the said election.
“Kogi State has become so lawless under Yahaya Bello as Governor. There is complete failure of governance in the State.
“The attacks against the Secretary of the Tribunal and subsequent snatching of the petition filed by the legal team of Murtala Yakubu and SDP by agents of darkness in Kogi State and by those working for those who rigged their ways into the office is not only unfortunate but it constitutes an attack against the judiciary.
It is a direct interference with judicial process. I hope the Nigerian government will view this unfortunate incident seriously and ensure that sanity is restored in Kogi State.
“There is political insanity in Kogi State. There is political miasma in kogi State. There is total disdain for judiciary and judicial institution by Kogi State and the agents of the state.
“How long will the President of Nigeria keep quiet and look the other ways when all is not well in Kogi State. It is shameful that those who rigged the election in Kogi State on 11/11/2023 are not allowing the conduct of the said election to be examined.
“It is sad. Given what is going on in Kogi State the lives of lawyers and judges handling this petition are not safe. Nigerian Government has a duty to do something and urgently too to avoid lawyers and judges being killed.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria must save the souls of all who have to handle these petitions. The Nigerian Bar Association must speak and act now. It is becoming too difficult to practice law in Nigeria.
“Those who rigged that election are desperate and they are doing everything to scuttle the hearing and determination of the petition.
The judiciary must ensure that it takes judicial notice of the rascality going on in the state. There must be an end to this state sponsored attacks.
“Nigerians are watching the Federal Government of Nigeria. Kogi State must be monitored strictly to avoid further anarchy. People are being pushed to the wall. There is a limit to human endurance. Kogi must not be allowed to be on fire and further.
Enough is enough.