Hysteria would appear suitable but it definitely may not properly encapsulate Hope Uzodinma’s brand of response to the widespread outrage over his weird victory at the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020. Despite the bold face with which he flaunts this pyrrhic victory, Uzodinma feels agitated that the nitty-gritty of it all is bare before the public.
His greatest disappointment is that Imo people, nay, Nigeria as a whole, could not stomach the injustice with the usual introspection and tacit disapproval. The miscarriages are so huge, so brazen and utterly disquieting, such that all people of goodwill have taken up the moral challenge to register their displeasure by any legitimate means at their disposal.
Directly the judgment was pronounced and greeted with spontaneous public outbursts, a few lawyers entered the fray in a rather frenetic mood. They made very bizarre pontifications about what they portrayed as the unique and not easy to comprehend nature of Uzodinma’s case. Their write-ups were heavily worded and somewhat pedagogic on the surface but all of them serially avoided the albatross of that judgment, to wit, its festering arithmetical impossibilities. Obviously, the frenzied manner in which the learned gentlemen offered their quick interventions would make any discerning mind to imagine that they were staged on a stand-by mission to cajole the Nigerian polity into swallowing the bitter pill. But that was a mission impossible. Perhaps Fr. Ejike Mbaka was commissioned to undertake the prelude to the hurly-burly from his type of pulpit, while the learned gentlemen were to handle the post-mortem.
Like every mortal, Emeka Ihedioha must have been agonizing under the pangs of the monumental injustice meted to him. Yet as a person of extraordinary civility, he has continued to conduct himself with equanimity. While it is entirely within the constitutional right of Nigerian citizens to engage in peaceful protest against injustice as in the instant case, it cannot be said that Ihedioha has by any means overt or convert induced any person or group of persons to organise any such protest on his behalf.
Knowing what is proper, Ihedioha awaited the details of the January14, 2020, judgment and briefed his lawyers consequently. On February 5, 2020, his lawyers approached the Supreme Court with a motion on notice seeking a review of the judgment.
Since then, Uzodinma has taken to all manner of hysterics. As soon as Ihedioha’s processes were served on him, he quickly became a solicitor and advocate unto himself, usurping the duties of his lawyers. The ‘brilliant lawyer’ cited a certain Section of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and boasted publicly that the Supreme Court can do nothing else about the case because the 60 days available to the court had elapsed. Boasting that he was grounded in lawmaking, he cited cases of Jim Nwobodo vs Onoh and Omoboriowo vs Ajasin. But the ‘erudite attorney’ did not remember to cite the legendary Chukwudifu Oputa when he stated inter alia while ruling in the case of Adegoke Motors and Adesanya in 1986, that, “the court can do incalculable harm through its mistakes. When, therefore, it appears to learned counsel that any decision of this court has been given incuriam, such counsel should have the boldness and courage to ask that such a decision be overruled.” And very recently, the Supreme Court, through eminent Justice Abba Aji, has affirmed that the apex court reserves the authority to vacate its own decision. Without any intention to pre-empt the revered justices of the Supreme Court, one can state cautiously that the conditions spelt out in that ruling appear to be in tandem with the grounds upon which Ihedioha is seeking the review.
Today, Uzodinma has employed diverse strategies to invade the consciences of members of the Imo State House of Assembly. The substance of this untoward style must be so intoxicating that these fellows, none of whom came to position on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), are now making indefensible claims that Uzodinma won the election. They pay no heed to the miracle result that catapulted him from far-flung fourth position to the first position. It is all about what they have gained or stand to gain in a quid pro quo that puts their stomach infrastructure first and foremost.
Another funny hysteric employed by Uzodinma is to engage some self-seeking fellows who make demeaning press statements and congratulatory messages in newspapers. They parade titles of “Chief,” “Barr,” “Prince,” “Amb,” “Engr” and so on to give the impression that they belong to the cream of Imo polity. In reality, these are inconsequential political jobbers seeking a meal ticket.
To up the ante, some of his closest allies, made up mainly of contractors reputed for delivering poor-quality civil works and politicians with ignoble antecedents, have decided to blackmail Ihedioha. They make mindless insinuations that Ihedioha has been blackmailing the Supreme Court judges, when indeed the gentleman has never made any statement or acted to any such intent. Their aim is to antagonise the honourable jurists and unsuspecting members of the public against him. They issue threats of how they will make sure they terminate his political future, if he fails to withdraw his application for review. They accuse him of playing do-or-die politics. But in their imagination, they cannot see Uzodinma as the real do-or-die power-seeker.Recently, some of these elements have gone besides themselves to launch attacks on Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, lead counsel to Ihedioha. Agabi’s sin is that he distilled such compelling grounds upon which he prays the court to nullify their pyrrhic victory and reinstate the man to whom Imo people entrusted their mandate.
Is someone asking why Uzodinma is so agitated? Anyone involved in his kind of pursuit would so be. He knows there is no way one person (a police officer) can give evidence and tender results from 388 polling units. He knows that PDP, Ihedioha and INEC tendered exhibits 63RD1 to 63RD19, which are INEC forms EC40G (incident forms) and authoritative proof that no valid elections were held in those 388 polling units. He knows that his police officer brought only 366 instead of 388 forms EC8A and thus both of them self-contradicted themselves.
He has realised that it is constitutionally unacceptable for total votes cast in an election (953,083) to exceed the total number of accredited voters (823,743). He has also known that Form EC8A must show number of accredited voters in a polling unit. He now knows that every Form EC8A must show the votes scored by all political parties that participated in the election. He has known that it is impossible for one candidate to score 99.11% of all the votes cast in 388 polling units to the total exclusion of 68 other candidates. Uzodinma has known that it is impossible for one candidate to amass as high as 213,695 votes out of 215,598. He has realised that results from only 11% of all polling units in the state cannot upturn results from the huge 89% when all the polling units should have an average of 500 registered voters. He has realised that it is not possible to have 174% and several other cases of over-voting in an election.
Uzodinma knows that Ihedioha has a genuine and legitimate case against his pursuit. He, therefore, cannot afford not to resort to illegitimate efforts. But Nigerians and the rest of humanity are hopeful that our respected Lordships will redeem their hard-earned integrity and reverence, and save our democracy from crumbling.
•Peterson wrote from Owerri