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Abia Appeal Court Ruling: A game that failed, By Godwin Adindu

By News Express on 19/01/2016

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By now those involved in the grand conspiracy to thwart the will of the people of Abia State would have realised that their plot has failed flat. After the Appeal Court ruling – a mere contraption of justice – the next game, as ordered by the Appeal Court judges, was to conduct a kangaroo swearing-in of Mr Alex Otti, as governor.  To achieve this, a delay tactics had to be employed. The chairman of the Appeal Court held on to her document for good six days and only released it on the seventh day.  But, as James Hadley Chase, the thriller-writer, would say: “The game failed flat!”

One could imagine the frustration of these conspirators whose only aim was to cause confusion in Abia State.  From delaying the announcement of the judgment until late on Thursday, December 31, 2015, to targeting the four-day holiday during which period Governor Okezie Ikpeazu would have lost some ample time, they set out for a great mischief. But, unfortunately, the plot has hit a brick wall. And the reason is simple:  Nigeria is not a jungle. Nigeria is a country governed by law and the constitution.

This judgment has sparked off series of massive protests in Abia State. A day after New Year, Ukwa-Ngwa men led by former Senate President, Adolp Wabara and Chief Gershion Amuta, led a massive street protest that grounded activities in Aba. The Ukwa-Ngwa women also followed suit. In what looked like the re-enactment of the Aba Women’s Riot of 1929, they wore black attires, marched on the streets of Aba and also brought the city to a halt. Members of the Abia Renion would follow and marched on the streets of Umuahia, climaxing at the Government House to give solidarity to the governor. It was a week-long protest and there seems to be no end to it as many groups are warming up for their own action.

Indeed, Abians have spoken in unmistakable terms: declaring the Appeal Court judgment as a rape and travesty of justice. The world has had to shiver over the judicial miscarriage as committed by the judges. Recall that before the justices commenced sitting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia had raised alarm over the constitution of the appeal panel. All the five judges came from one judicial division – Lagos. This was against the established tradition of having a mixture of judges from different divisions. Lagos is where the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate lives and does business. PDP expressed fear of a possible compromise.

Yet, there are fundamental issues about the Court of Appeal ruling, which, if allowed to stand, would mean the denial of the rights of a large number of the electorates to choose their representatives. How could the appellate court allow the disenfranchising of three local governments, which constitute one-third of Abia State electorate, including the state governor himself? Are they saying that the about 400,000 voters of Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala Ngwa North (council areas) are no more Nigerians and cannot exercise their voting rights? How could they (the justices) have ordered Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to swear-in Mr Otti immediately after their pronouncement, when they knew that there is still a window of 14 days within which Ikpeazu has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court? When INEC ordered a re-run in some booths in these three local councils and other places, APGA dully participated and at the end of the day PDP won in all the booths. If the appeal court judges were able to establish cases of irregularities in the three local government areas, the fairest thing should have been to order a re-run.

It is disturbing that the security agencies are making themselves available for the next strategy of harassment and intimidation of the supporters of Ikpeazu. The homes of two prominent supporters of the governor had been invaded by a combined team of DSS and the Army in recent time. The Aba residence of the Commissioner for Works, Hon Eziuche Ubani, was invaded about 2am by a team of men of the SSS and the Nigerian Army who came in six Hilux vans; broke his gate and gained entry into his house by climbing the wall and held him hostage for four hours. The team thoroughly searched his house, including the water tank; broke his wardrobe, climbed the ceiling and inflicted injuries on his driver in his boys’ quarters, after which they wrote on a paper that they found nothing incriminating in the house.

The following day, they invaded the home of Mr Ginger Onwusibe, the Transition Chairman of Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area in the same Gestapo-style. The team, led by Stephen Agu of the Directorate of State Services, Abuja, said it got a report from the opposition that the supporters of the governor were stockpiling arms and training people to assassinate leaders of APGA.

Today, Abians are worried that state institutions will be used to harass innocent Nigerians in Abia State. It is also regrettable that Mr Otti and his surrogates have now turned to false and desperate propaganda to grab power at all cost, and mortgage Abia State. The people of Abia do not only feel embarrassed by this unwarranted intimidation, but also feel very worried by the signals emanating from this regime of intimidation. This is why we must call on the judiciary and the security agencies not to play into to the hands of some politicians whose desire is to toy with the lives and aspirations of the people of Abia State. What the people of the state desire is good governance, which they have experienced in the first 200 days of Governor Ikpeazu. Nobody should change this warm narrative of progress and drag Abia backwards. The call has become necessary because this new trend of harassment is a clear invitation of crisis. Abians must resist any scenario that is capable of launching the state into anarchy.  In all, we must congratulate our governor for his calm and peaceful disposition, which has helped to stabilise the state and calmed frayed nerves even at this restive time.

Today, we must announce to the whole world that Governor Okezie’s mandate is sacred and safe. By God’s grace, money cannot replace justice. We have the utmost confidence in the ability of the justices of the Supreme Court to correct the anomaly at the Court of Appeal and uphold the victory of our governor, as had been earlier done by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia.

Adindu, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Abia State. 

Source News Express

Posted 18/01/2016 10:35:46 PM

 

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