Ethnic tension is on the rise in Kogi State over who should succeed the former Governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, whose tenure the Supreme Court on Friday declared over since May 29, 2011.
Sources in the state told The Eagle Online that the tension is principally among two of the major tribes in the state – the Igala and Igbira.
While the Igbira want their own son, Jibrin Isah, one of the aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, to fill the seat, the Igala want Captain Wada Idris, who emerged as governor in the last election on the platform of the PDP, to occupy the seat.
Isah, who also contested the PDP gubernatorial primaries that produced Wada, is in court challenging the processes that led to the emergence of the party’s candidate for the election in Kogi State.
It was learnt that shortly after the Supreme Court judgement, the Igbiras expressed the hope that with the order by the Supreme Court, it is either the process for a fresh election would commence or Isah’s pending case to declare him the candidate of the PDP would be resolved before the handover to a new governor.
On the other side too, the Igala, who had produced most of the governors of the state, were banking on producing the governor without any sweat since their son, Wada, had won the gubernatorial election.
So as soon as news filtered in that Wada had been sworn-in by the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of the State, Ibrahim Shaibu Atadoga, tension rose in the state.
A source told The Eagle Online: “The tension was so much that it the wisest decision to take at that time was to allow for Wada not to claim the governor’s seat any further. Otherwise we could have had a serious ethnic clash.
“The Igbiras are of the opinion that since they have not produced the governor, it should naturally be their turn.”
The source said that it was, obviously to avert such a crisis that the Chief Judge of the state, Nasir A, Ajanah, turned down the order by Idris to inaugurate Wada as the governor.
The source also claimed that the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, who is now the acting Governor, Rt. Hon. Abdullai Bello, initially refused the offer to be sworn-in until about 5pm when he saw that there could be a breakdown of law and order if he did not accede to the request to be inaugurated.
“It took the speaker that long to accede to the request to be sworn-in because he also knew that the right thing had been done in Kogi with the swearing-in of Wada.”
One of our sources, however, said that the order by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who is also from Kogi State, that speakers of the states Houses of Assembly affected by the ruling of the Supreme Court was issued in bad faith in the case of Kogi State.
Adoke, the source alleged, is favourably disposed to the emergence of Isah since they are from the same area.
A source close to Adoke denied this claim.
He said that the position of Adoke represented that of the government, adding: “This is a matter of national importance. How does the AGF begin to put in his own personal interest?
“It is only logical that what obtains in one state should obtain in the other.
:If anyone is afraid of Isah emerging as governor, then the person should say so directly and not link it to the AGF who has remained neutral since the debacle in Kogi Started.”
The source in Lokoja who made the allegation against Adoke, however, said that it would be a wise decision for all interested parties in the Kogi State gubernatorial process to wait for the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission on the issue.
He said this was the only way to avert the ethnic clash that is brewing in the state at the moment.
As earlier exclusively reported by The Eagle Online, barring any change, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, and his team will meet on Monday.
In a related development, the PDP has said there is nothing procedurally wrong for the President of the Customary Court of Appeal to inaugurate the governor of a state.
The PDP said in a statement on Saturday that this is constitutionally right.
Section 185 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, provides cover for the chief judge, the head of the Sharia Court or the President of the Customary Court of Appeal to swear-in a governor.
A source in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, also argued in this direction.
But while the debate over who is right or wrong in the process goes on, the tension in the state is mounting, with the Igala and Igbira watching each other with suspicion.