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Chinedu Ekeke: Indeed, The Judiciary Is On Trial (A Rejoinder To Amanze Obi Of Daily Sun)

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In the last two weeks, we have watched the custodians of a stolen mandate in Abia state mount the most aggressive onslaught on truth and morality. And they’ve spared nothing in this war: money, honour, conscience. The typical vote robber thinks all is fair in war, and that war time propaganda knows no rules. They say anything, including the unimaginable, to paint their victims as the oppressors. This is what Alex Otti, his party and their supporters have been through in the last one year.

To prosecute this war, they’ve enlisted a couple of voices in the media. One of such people is Amanze Obi of the Ikedi Ohakim infamy. Mr Obi, a supposed editor and senior journalist, in a recent back page commentary in Daily Sun titled ‘Judiciary on trial again’, took umbrage at the learned justices of the appeal court for granting Alex Otti of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) his prayers in a petition against Okezie Ikpeazu in the April 2015 governorship elections.

Mr Obi, a man who wrote his way into Ikedi Ohakim’s government in Imo state and got appointed Commissioner for Information, must have been dreaming of another four years with Ohakim when Imo voters disgraced the petulant former governor out of office. Thereafter, Amanze Obi’s next hope of political relevance got tied to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid. He thought Ohakim’s dead political career had a chance of resuscitation by a Jonathan second term. And, of course, as the perfect courtier who hailed Ohakim while he went about physically assaulting Imo residents as a sitting governor, Amanze must have seen Ohakim rewarding him again with recommendation for a federal appointment upon Jonathan’s re-election.

But that didn’t happen, and Amanze’s sadness was dripping out of his latest back page outing. He took it out on the APC, and offered beer parlour gossip as expert opinion; claiming that the APC is planning to unleash a political earthquake in the polity. He said the party had moved into Rivers and Akwa Ibom states with a plan to topple the apple carte. Not done with his outlandish claims, he proceeded o accuse INEC of padding up figures for Buhari in Northern states and then accused the Igbo elite of naivety for not equally playing the game of numbers to favour Jonathan.

As I read those lines, I quickly remembered why I stopped reading Amanze Obi a long time ago. Nobody should take a senior political analyst who reasons like a market woman seriously. On most national issues, the only difference between Amanze Obi’s views and those of motor park touts is that his is written on the pages of national dailies.

How can we listen to a morality crusader who didn’t feel pained by the deaths of innocent citizens occasioned by PDP’s rigging machinery in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states? How do we take seriously a man who supports a political party that flouted rules on the strict use of Card Readers meant to improve our electoral process?

Who should waste precious minutes reading the rantings of a journalist who doesn’t know that the key Northern states had much lower voter turn-out than their Southern counterparts in the last presidential election? In that election, the national voter turn-out average was 42%. Mr Amanze claimed figures were padded in the three Northern states of Kano, Kaduna and Katsina. But voter turn-out in those states were 47.8%, 51.9% and 55% respectively. Compare that to Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers which turned out 62.5%, 62.8% and 66.9% respectively. If there’s any need for suspicion, where should we begin? States with higher deviation from the national average or states closer to the national average?

But I shouldn’t concern myself with our man’s vacuous insinuation. My interest is his attack on the appeal court judges for doing a thorough job on the Abia governorship election.

First, I can bet that Amanze Obi hasn’t read the judgement. He must be cut from the same cloth as Mr Mike Ozekhome, another senior professional: a lawyer who didn’t know to shut his mouth over a court judgement he hadn’t read. Spewing mendacity on national TV with so much boldness, Ozekhome agreed that he hadn’t read the judgement he was criticizing. One lie Mr Ozekhome told with a straight face was that INEC allowed for manual accreditation during the gubernatorial elections of April 2015. I’m surprised Mr Amanze didn’t include that assertion in his tirade.

But then, he said worse.

Hear him; ‘The people of Abia state, or at least, a sizable chunk of them, are at war with the courts…against the judgement of the appeal court … which annulled the election of Okezie Ikpeazu.’

But for the seriousness of the matter this hack is toying with, the above line would have been plain ridiculous. Who are these Abians at war with the courts? Was he referring to the millions who, upon hearing the news of Alex Otti’s declaration on 31st December 2015 as the duly elected governor, thronged the streets and broke into songs and dance? In Obingwa, the local government area which Mr Obi and his friends in Abia PDP want us to believe is Ikpeazu’s stronghold, thousands of people sang and danced, happy that their votes finally counted. Mr Obi only saw a rented crowd of less than 200 people, led by Adolphus Wagbara, a tainted former Senate President of the N55m saga, who has relapsed into rent-seeking and godfatherism. While the celebration by millions of Abians was spontaneous, it took Amanze Obi’s protesters two days to realize that there was a judgement. Two days – that was the timeframe needed for their contractors to arrange for logistics and protest fee of N1000 per person.

Amanze might want to ask Ikpeazu his friend why he banned peaceful protests in the state just hours after nearly a million Abians locked down the streets of Umuahia in support of the appeal court judgement. The real owners of the state, the masses whose votes were stolen, braced the odds and registered their support for Alex Otti before the world. The vote robbers couldn’t stand the sight of genuine protests. They quickly decreed a stop.

Our journalist did not cringe that the learned justices of the appeal court discovered such level of corruption in the Abia election. Here’s a man who, bound by the dictates of the ethics of his acclaimed profession, should pursue such universal truths as fairness and justice. It did not trouble him that there was incontrovertible proof of infraction on the electoral process. He was not worried with the discovery of the learned justices that three local governments where 93,369 voters were accredited returned 160,252 votes. Instead, what bothered Amanze Obi was the refusal of the appeal court judges to toe the line of the trial judges who had earlier upheld the charade that brought in Ikpeazu. Again, you can be sure that Mr Amanze Obi never read that first judgement by the tribunal judges. I read the haphazardly scribbled forty-something-page disaster delivered by Justice Usman Bwala which the PDP celebrated as judgment. It was a complete mess and didn’t require any special skills in logic to know that it cannot stand the legal scrutiny of any unbiased judge. Amanze Obi has to be the only editor in the world who does not understand that the reason for appealing a judgement is for it to be reviewed by a higher court, and if found to be perverse, set aside. He is obsessed with his friendship with the riggers. I don’t begrudge him.

Having discovered massive fraud in the result of three local governments, Mr Amanze wants the appeal court to simply order a rerun. And he quickly dropped the Bayelsa and Kogi analogy. Clearly, all he knows about elections in Nigeria is sandwiched within 2015 and 2016. The only one outside of these two years he remembered was Amaechi, the man he loathes. His dislike for Amaechi is understandable. Amaechi helped APC oust Jonathan through whom Ohakim would have been resuscitated politically. Of course we know what Ohakim’s resuscitation will do to Amanze Obi.

He described the judgement that made Amaechi governor as legal aberration. In Amanze Obi’s thinking, a man whose victory in his party primaries was stolen shouldn’t have been declared the duly nominated candidate for the election. Amanze clearly has a skewed sense of justice. Thank God he is not a judge.

Our guy also wants a rerun because the judgements in Akwa Ibom and Rivers ordered for rerun elections. Amanze Obi doesn’t know that when you prove your case in court, the court is bound to grant you your prayers. He wants Alex Otti who prayed to be returned by the courts as the duly elected governor to be given a rerun after he proved his case.

This hack needs to be reminded about that often used word called ‘research’. Journalists are expected to research on facts before saying anything to their readers. If he was not all about showing full working to his paymasters, he would have recalled that in November 2008, the same appeal court returned Adams Oshiomhole of Edo as the state’s duly elected governor in the April 14, 2007 elections. In taking that decision, the learned justices of the court, headed by the then president of the court himself, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, cancelled (Yes, CANCELLED) the results of 2 local governments – Akoko-Edo and Etsako – for rigging, and exorcised them from the overall result. In the case of Oshiomhole, he was lucky. The tribunal that handled the matter refused to be bought by Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, the then impostor. Unlike Abia, the tribunal returned Oshiomhole in their judgement. Then, just like it’s happening right now in Abia, the Amanze Obis went to market; attacking the judges, hauling innuendos at Oshiomhole and insulting his party. The hoopla generated by the judgement forced the president of the court of appeal to personally head the appeal panel, to avoid anybody rubbishing the judiciary with the matter. The outcome was that the learned justices determined massive over-voting and immediately cancelled the two local governments. They did not order a rerun. They knew it was wrong to order a rerun in such circumstance. The logic was sound. People had exercised their franchise, but the criminals sneaked in and corrupted the votes. The job of the court was to yank off the corrupted votes to return the process to sanctity.

Mr Amanze Obi might also want to go further and interrogate the judgement, again by the same court of appeal, that brought in Rauf Aregbesola as the governor of Osun state. Results in ten local governments were cancelled, the initial figures recomputed, election of Olagunsoye Oyinlola nullified and Rauf Aregbesola returned and sworn in. These senseless talks of disenfranchisement did not stop the judges.

Is it possible that Mr Amanze Obi hadn’t started showing interest in politics when these judgements were delivered? Or does a career in hackery blur the memory?

He also bought into the ‘disenfranchisement of 300,000 voters’ falsehood being broadcast by Ikpeazu and his supporters. Well, it is already established that Amanze Obi has no respect for facts. But he may want to ask his people to tell us the exact figure they claim will be disenfranchised: 150,000, according to Charles Ajunwa? 200,000 according to ACB Agbazuere? Or 300,000 according Eziuche Ubani? When they settle for the particular figure, they can revert to Mr Obi for the second part of his commentary. But while he is on it, it bears saying that the 17 LGAs in Abia state gave about 381,700 at the presidential election. Yet only three LGAs, in Amanze’s imagination, excluding Aba North and South with the highest voting populations in the state, have 300,000 voters. This is an evidence that the Amanzes of Nigeria’s journalism thrive on the publication of fables for facts.

Indeed, the judiciary is on trial. I’m curious to know if the courts will bow to falsehood or facts. The Supreme Court has a duty to prove to the Amanze Obis of Nigeria that justice is not given to the loudest noisemaker and most unconscionable liar. Justice is justice and should be done in this matter, irrespective of threats from the quantities fighting for free money from Abia’s principal custodian of a stolen mandate.

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Chinedu Ekeke lives and works in Lagos. You can follow him on twitter as @Nedunaija

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