Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba
It is quite natural and even understandable for one to mourn and bemoan the loss of a job or an opportunity, even when that chance of a lifetime comes from an administration that illegitimately foisted itself on the citizenry. But it is absolutely wrong for that person to impugn on the integrity of Supreme Court justices and the highest court of the land as an institution just because of a lost meal ticket. And the freedom of speech and expression is taken too far when the same person alleges corruption on innocent judges all in the name of defending a filched mandate.
Amanze Obi, an otherwise respected columnist, decided to put up his reputation for sale when, in an article published by The Sun on Wednesday, he engaged in the mortal sin of argumentum adhomenum, mercilessly pummeling the justices of the Supreme Court because they dared do their jobs based on facts available to them. Short of ordering the justices to do his bidding by reversing the judgment that recovered the stolen mandate of Governor Hope Uzodinma, Amanze also went for the jugular of President Muhammadu Buhari, branding him a beneficiary of a controversial electoral victory. He believes Buhari must make restitution for defeating Atiku Abubakar, if only he orders the Supreme Court justices to return Emeka Ihedioha to office.
Why many institutions of higher learning across the globe offer philosophy as an elective course is primarily to help graduates conquer the disease of uncontrolled emotion in their reasoning. Even in elementary use of English, the rules of logic are spelt out for students to follow while arguing matters in order to save them from being consumed by warped conclusion drawn from wrong syllogism. It is unfortunate that Amanze, who in a different piece had confessed to being in a state of shock after his master was kicked out of Government House, threw all the rules of argument overboard and instead allowed himself the luxury of ventilating his anger and frustration on the Supreme Court and the innocent justices.
While it may not be morally right to deny a loser the chance to sob, it would be silly to allow the person run away with half truths, outright falsehood, blackmail, intimidation and even threats, all in the name of freedom of expression. Amanze claimed that even Uzodinma’s supporters felt guilty after the Supreme Court verdict. If that was the case, why were they celebrating inside the court, Abuja and Imo State? If they did not hope to win, why was the case taken through the tribunal to the Supreme Court in the first place? Amanze could have talked about himself and PDP being in shock because victory did not go their way.
But more importantly, why are PDP and their hired writers and protesters afraid to face the facts of the case? Why are they still living in denial that they were beaten hands down and that the Supreme Court justices merely did their jobs based on the facts presented before them? While Ihedioha, PDP and their lawyers were boasting that it is impossible for “somebody who came fourth to be declared governor,” Uzodinma and APC were insisting that INEC denied them victory by excluding the votes from 388 polling units that they won.
Right from the tribunal, APC and Uzodinma presented their copies of the election results given to their party agents by INEC from those 388 polling units, showing that they won the election, but INEC, for strange reasons, excluded those results. The police were subpoenaed to testify and they also authenticated those results with their own copies.
Although the tribunal admitted those results, it also strangely refused to credit them to APC and Uzodinma. That was when justice was actually miscarried. But Uzodinma did not bring down the roof. He did not go to the United Nations, US, UK and EU to protest the injustice. Instead, he went to the Court of Appeal.
It is instructive that, at the Court of Appeal, PDP and Ihedioha had the majority of the justices upholding their fraudulent election. But a dissenting judgment insisted that Uzodinma was robbed by both INEC and PDP and that his victory ought to be restored. However, like a lone voice crying in the wilderness, the judge was mocked by Ihedioha and PDP. But the Supreme Court agreed with him and restored the stolen mandate of Uzodinma.
Instead of PDP weeping and protesting like a child whose favourite ice cream was taken away from it, let the party publish the results from their party agents in the 388 polling units to contradict the ones tendered in court by Uzodinma and the APC. This is the only way to prove to the world that Uzodinma’s claim of unlawful exclusion of his results from these units is wrong and/or that the Supreme Court was wrong in validating those results in his favour. Anything short of this amounts to a criminal manipulation of hard facts to whip up unnecessary sentiments as Amanze Obi laboriously tried to do in the aforementioned article.
In any case, the Supreme Court patiently explained that it ruled in favour of APC and Governor Uzodinma because INEC was unable to provide concrete evidence (facts) to disprove the claim of the appellants. In other words, if INEC and, perhaps, PDP had provided facts to contradict results from the 388 polling units tendered by APC and its candidate, the verdict would have been otherwise. But nothing of such came. All we had were howls powered by empty boasts and sentiments that were quite irrelevant in the adjudication of matters in court.
Beyond this legal issue, many Nigerians are actually worried by the sheer desperation and obsession of Ihedioha and PDP to cling to power even when they knew that they did not even win the election abinitio. Constitutionally, Ihedioha failed to garner one-quarter of votes cast in two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state. In Aboh Mbaise, Ihehioha’s home local government, INEC credited him with 64,000 votes, as against 22,000 accredited voters in the area. In Ezinihite Mbaise, Ihedioha gave himself 31,000 votes, as against the 11,755 accredited voters. Likewise in Ahiasu, he awarded himself 30,912 votes, whereas only 9,432 voters were accredited to vote there. That gives you over 81,000 over-voting. The story is the same in Ngor Okpala. It was from these four LGAs that Ihedioha got over 70 per cent of the total votes he scored to be declared governor. That means that what he got from the rest 23 LGAs was less than what he got from four LGAs. How does that make any electoral sense?
The truth, which is well known to Ihedioha and the likes of Amanze, is that Ihedioha ought not to have been declared governor in the first instance. Everybody knew that he was on borrowed time. So, why all the fuss when what the Supreme Court did was just to enthrone the rightful winner of the election: Hope Uzodinma?
It is also alarming that PDP and Ihedioha, instead of going home to quietly lick their wounds and perhaps prepare for 2023, have decided to take everybody down with them, including the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Must this country be destroyed because of Ihedioha’s vaulting ambition? Must Ihedioha win always? Ihedioha is not the first governor to be removed by the Supreme Court. We had Chris Ngige of Anambra State, who made way for Peter Obi of APGA, Prof. Osunbur also of PDP of Edo State giving way to Adams Oshiomhole of APC and Celestine Omehia of PDP going away for Rotimi Amaechi in Rivers State. Those who lost neither engaged in criminal breach of the peace nor sought judicial review of their cases at the Supreme Court. Why is the Imo case different? Or is it a dress rehearsal for PDP’s avowed insurrection against President Buhari’s government? Time will actually tell.
All I know is that no amount of protestations and poetry writings will change the facts upon which the Supreme Court wisely and justly declared Uzodimma the duly elected governor of Imo State. I repeat, the onus is on Ihedioha and the PDP to publish the results with their agents from the 388 polling units, if they believe they have a case, or forever keep their mouths shut.
•Emelumba is director of media, Uzodimma Campaign Organisation