SOLDIERS must compulsorily go to war irrespective of the possibilities of death. Deviant and lawless policemen must collect egunje (bribe) at illegal checkpoints without caring a hoot about the identities of the prospective victims. The extortive and embarrassing tollgate of cops at Pako bus stop, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos, is a reputational sore point for the Nigeria police! These analogies are to foreclose the fatalistic inclinations of scoundrels who might question the futurity of this proposition of certitude. Time flies and will always tell.
When the Abia State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal upheld the election of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP as the governor, hell was not let loose by oppositional forces who took it with equanimity. The event looked so insignificant like a graveyard matter that not many people knew what had happened. All that the main contender, Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), said was that he would appeal the judgment. Neither he nor his multitudinous supporters bickered over the curious development. That, for me, was demonstrative of quintessential sportsmanship.
In the twilight of 2015, the Court of Appeal removed Dr. Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State for not validly having won the governorship poll earlier that year and ordered that Dr. Otti should be sworn in as the rightful governor having been duly elected. Against all judicial precedents and rationalizations, Dr. Ikpeazu swiftly declared that he was still the governor even when he had not appealed to the Supreme Court despite the ruling that sacked him from office.
It is unfortunate that those who were supposed to enforce the ruling were either timid or did not grasp the import of that ruling. When these absurdities take place, I shudder at the magnitude of the systemic rot in all departments of our national life. Antecedental pronouncements on similar cases of constitutionalism and jurisprudence do not hold any relevance. That, inexplicably and lawlessly, is the way we are! Ignore all the bumptious, subjective and divergent lawyers’ views that follow.
Apart from his New Year message to Abians not too long ago, Dr. Otti kept calm, as usual, watching events as they unfolded despite his declaration as Abia governor by a competent and duly constituted court of the land. I had thought that immediately after the appelate court’s ruling, Dr. Ikpeazu would have vacated office in compliance with the ruling while awaiting the appeal by his lawyers to the apex court and the outcome of it instead of disrespecting the court and the country’s judicial process by hanging on defiantly. This is now history.
At a recent conference of justices of appeal courts, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, admonished them to be cautious in their administration of justice as prevalent rulings by them with regard to governorship elections were in dissonance with judicial precedents and the position of the Supreme Court on such cases. The ex-CJN pointed out that they usually gave conflicting rulings.
Law, of course, basks in precedents to foreclose contradictions. Pursuant to this reminder, it has become imperative that pronouncements by the justices should be categorical as to forestall any misinterpretation or defiance as in the instant matter. I also expect that enforcement agencies should be bold enough to compel stringent compliance. The Court of Appeal in its ruling on this case did not say that the status quo ante should subsist—its ruling was unmistakable.
Nobody should use the pockets of ragtag riots in Aba by disgruntled miscreants and social wrecks as a measure of disenchantment with the Court of Appeal ruling. These are frustrated urchins, who do not even understand the legalism involved in the governorship battle, and who are ready to trade their worthless lives for any bony doleout! Their pre-election threat of fire and brimestone did not affect the outcome of the poll in its genuineness. As they say, violence, hooliganism, gangsterism and other forms of rascality are not exclusive to any individual/his proxies or group.
Just when I thought that official effrontery and government’s functionaries’ benumbing audacity on this matter had given way to reason and logic in anticipation of Supreme Court’s intervention, overzealous government “pikins” kicked up the dust again by making weird and laughable allusions to the monetization of the electoral process and possible compromise/corruption of eminent justices. The era of propaganda has gone with the last disastrous administration in the state of which some of these unstable official brats were vicious in-and-out public relational players.
Please digest the following vexatious, provocative and infantile words that are simply indicative of childishness by one of the aforesaid Umuahia Government House operatives: “Abia State is not for sale and nobody should trifle with the destiny of the people. All the people involved in this grand conspiracy to cause havoc in Abia and drag the state into anarchy and bloodshed should steer clear of Abia.” (Vide LEADERSHIP Newspaper, Thursday, January 7, 2016, Page 16)
If I did not know the charlatan who scribbled this, I would have concluded that he was a kindergartener! Was this same fellow not part of the immediate-past government in the state that irredeemably wasted Abians for eight years while combating his principal’s benefactor in the worst case of amnesic ingratitude in human history? Beyond surrogacy, the world knows who has been causing “havoc, anarchy and bloodshed” in Abia from 2007 to date! Please, add “abduction and serial mutilation of Abia North senatorial result” (until the inevitable victory of Dr. Orji Kalu who had to stop the ochendoic clique) to the list.
No matter the camp we belong to, there is need to show a modicum of respect for our justices and the country’s constitution. Making a subtle mockery of judicial personnel and their rulings/judgments through jaundiced and megalomaniac reactions does not show maturity and responsibilty by functionaries in Government House or confer dignity on their ill-informed traducers. This is especially pertinent because there is still a window for an appeal. Even if there was none, it was still no ticket to preposterousness. Such propagandistic irrationalities have become obsolete, if not extinct.
I had expected that the response from Umuahia would be holistic compliance with the Court of Appeal ruling and submission to the apex court instead of reprehensibly fouling up the air with ludicrous insinuations. Juvenile and wild reactions to issues of constitutionalism no matter the interpretative and perceptive inclinations diminish the aggrieved. Such reckless utterances, which are not the attributes of professional government PR and media relations, are capable of attracting public odium.
If Abia State government’s fledgling and tentative leadership and fleeting romance with surrogacy were committed to good governance and delivery of global developmental goals, they would not have time for distractive dissipation of energy on a matter that is purely democratic, legitimate, constitutional and lawful. No amount of erroneous and brazen individual garrulity, official loquaciousness and oppositional bovine reference to Dr. Otti as a non-Abia indigene can stop his divine victory in the next governorship poll in Abia State.
By God’s grace, in 2023, no government machinery, entity or party can stop the long overdue emergence of this first-class economist and banker of repute as the redemptive and unimpeachable governor of my “conquered” state. I stand to be challenged on this authoritative and irrevocable optimism of mine and of millions of Abians at home and in the Diaspora.