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Abia State and the hypocrisy of the Rule of Law

March 25, 2009

“To return all the glory to God for the validation of my mandate to govern Abia State by the Appeal Court” ----Governor T. A. Orji

The above words constitute the principal objective of Governor Theodore Ahamefula Orji’s invitation recently to the general public for a Thanksgiving Service on Thursday march 5th 2009 in Umuahia Sports Complex, which coincidentally is named after the former governor of the state, Orji Uzor-Kalu; his political godfather and leader of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA).
The colourful nature of the advert and the skillful designs that accompanied the production speak volume on the sweet taste of victory which the Governor and his supporters are savoring. And really, there is need for everyone concerned to give glory to God after going through the hassles of Nigerian elections and the challenges of pulling through the judicial challenge like Governor Theodore Orji. His walk to, and continued stay in Government House Umuahia have been herculean tasks. He had been in the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) jail while the campaign and election went on in 2007. He had faced a great fight right from the campaign period, through the polls, from Onyema Ugochukwu, of the awesome Peoples Democratic Party PDP with a strong war chest and a vindictive President Obasanjo behind him till the Court of Appeal judgment gave him relief. .So he has cause to celebrate! The  thanksgiving proper was  a carnival and a huge celebration on the 5th of March 2009 .Who is who in the politics of old Eastern Nigeria and Nigeria as a whole  was there to felicitate with the man of the moment and his mammoth supporters.
However, it is painful that Governor Orji amidst this celebration and reaping of the fruit of rule of law and judicial victory courtesy of the judiciary on one hand will on the other hand still retain the audacity to deny another politician and citizen of Abia State his legitimate right to enjoy a similar victory at the polls and the judiciary. The quantum of abuse of the rule of law mantra of President Yar’dua and executive lawlessness in Abia State is capable of derailing the fledging democracy in Nigeria. This is with direct reference to the Aba South Local Government Council; where Governor Theodore Orji has failed to swear–in Dr Christian Okoli and his running mate, Chijioke Wogu to the office of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Aba South Local Government Council respectively, having been declared the winners of the election which took place on the 19th day of January 2008 by Chief Magistrate John Ukpai’s led Local Government Election Tribunal on the 6th day of November 2008.
The Tribunal in a unanimous judgment ordered that “the return/election of Chief Okezie C. Erondu and Mr. Chika Emeri as Chairman and Vice-chairman of Aba South Local Government Area is set aside and invalid”. It further ordered “the appropriate authorities to swear in Dr Christian Nwachukwu Okoli and Hon.Chijioke U. Wogu as Chairman and Vice-chairman respectively of Aba South Local Government Area of Abia State forthwith. The Tribunal went further to ask   “the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission and the State Chief Electoral Commissioner to issue Dr Christian Nwachukwu Okoli and Hon Chijioke u. Wogu with the Certificate of Return as duly elected forthwith” and assessed the cost of the petition at N10, 000- (Ten thousand naira) in favour of Dr Christian Nwachukwu Okoli and Hon. Chijioke Wogu against the respondents.
It is heart-breaking that till today the well-delivered judgment and orders of the tribunal have not been executed by the Chief Theodore Orji led government in Abia State and their relevant agencies like the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission that has failed to issue the Action Congress candidates with their well-deserved Certificate of Return.
It is disappointing that there is no other reason behind the chicanery which the government of Abia State has got itself involved in, than the fact that an opposition party won election in a strategic city like Aba when the PPA thinks Abia State is their manor farm. The candidates of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) are illegally occupying the seat of power in Aba South Local Government just to loot the treasury of the Council and do the biddings of the PPA mafia led by Orji Uzo-Kalu in Umuahia. This is a flagrant abuse of the people’s power and subversion of the mandate genuinely given to the Action Congress. This brand of politics is raw, retrogressive and belongs to the medieval period of human civilization. From findings by well-meaning Abia people, former Governor Uzor-Kalu is said to be aggrieved that why should a political party led by Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu win the most  viable Council seat in Abia State when his Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) could neither be given (in his purported language) a seat in Adamawa or Lagos? If this is really how the leadership of the party is thinking, then there is danger on the survival of multi-party democracy in Nigeria. Elective political positions should be an exclusive preserve of the ballot box to allocate. It smacks of abject hollowness and irresponsible mindset for Nigeria’s political elites to assume that political offices should be allocated like personal landed property by feudal lords in manner quite remindful of, the painful years of the military in Nigeria or 16th century Europe. This does not help democracy and development and is highly antithetical to the strengthening of centri-petal forces without which Nigeria’s unity would be a mirage and its manifest destiny an illusion.

It should be clearly stated that Nigeria’s judiciary and good governance cannot be promoted by the hide and seek game being played by the Professor S.O. Emejuiwe’s led Abia State Independent Electoral Commission which failure to issue Certificate of Return to the winners of the election in Aba South has served as an alibi for the PPA government in Umuahia to continue its contempt of the court; quite unexpected from a governor who owes his stay in office to the judiciary. As an academic, the professor has fallen below expectation. Portraying him as nothing but an intellectual ordinary man. It is appalling that a professor of micro-biology will conduct himself in a manner that makes it seem his knowledge does not go beyond the study of micro-organisms.

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The judiciary is the last hope of the common man and all of us irrespective of our current political or socio-economic status have it as a social responsibility to uphold the sanctity and independence of this very important arm of government. For one day and in different times we will always need a strong, vocal and assertive judiciary to protect us and our positions. If we destroy the courts by failing to obey its orders because it favours to do that today, then every Dick and Harry should then prepare for anarchy. The National Judicial Council, Governor Theodore Orji and President Umaru Musa Yar’dua should halt this degeneration to a state of nature by ensuring that the mandate of the good people of Aba South is exercised in their interest by swearing in Dr Christian Nwachukwu Okoli as the duly elected Chairman of Aba South Local Government Council urgently. The people of Aba South in particular and Abia State should rise in unison to ask the state government in Umuahia to do what is right. Governor Orji’s thanksgiving would end as a mere lip service than a genuine prayer to God if he allows the perfidy in Aba South to endure. God is watching!
Ugo Jim-Nwoko, a Development Communications practitioner is on a working tour of Abia State.
National Institute of Nigerian Languages
Aba Abia State.

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