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Supreme Court Decision On Abia State Election Retains Ikpeazu as Governor –
A Matter Of National Concern.

Abia State Governorship Election Appeal Crisis Moment
Old High Court Umuahia Ulo Ikpe Ukwu

Abia State as a matter of national discussion has a population of roughly 5 million people, 17 Local government areas; with about 1.28 million registered voters in the 2015 election circle. On the political verge, she is now at the crossroad of truth, equity, fairness and justice for the common man in Nigeria as a result of the Appeal court decision which overturned the election of Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State. Ikpeazu challenged the decision at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

According to Vanguard News Online published January 1 2016;
“The five-member panel, headed by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, annulled the election on the grounds of substantial non-compliance with the electoral law. Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by Otti, the court said that the APGA candidate scored 164, 444 valid votes to defeat Ikpeazu who scored 114, 444 votes. The court declared that Otti was the winner of the April 11 and April 25 supplementary elections in Abia State.  Omoleye said that the cancellation of the elections held in three LGAs of Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Isiala Ngwa by the returning officers after the results were uploaded to INEC was wrong. “In the Electoral Act, the Returning Officer has the right to only declare results of elections and not to cancel elections. “This panel discovered that the earlier results uploaded to INEC headquarters correspond with the correct valid registered voters in the three LGAs, while that awarded to the respondent, shows over voting and therefore null and void.”

It is imperative to note that the Appeal court ruling referenced cancelation of results from 3 LGA Isiala ngwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Obingwa saying that the Returning Officer has a right to announce election results but not the right to cancel results which has already been uploaded to INEC sitting provisions of the electoral law. The culture of cheating, where if you cheat and get caught, you pay a price, but if you cheat without being caught, you are hailed as successful should be discouraged. For example: If West African Examination Commission (WAEC), conducted examinations in Nigeria and there was Expo in some centers, the result of those centers are cancelled, though some innocent students may be affected does it mean that entire result for all other centers are also cancelled for the whole exam for that year in question? Those who cheat and are caught lose their deposit, no refund no matter whose ox is gored; they should regroup and work hard to sit for the exam the next time around. In this instance politicians found “wanting” by the Appeal Court decision and the subsequent Supreme Court ruling should try to regain the public trust and contest again in 4 years.

Various newspapers published articles portraying conflicting numbers in three local government areas, consisting of: Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala Ngwa as 300,000, 250,000, and 120,000 thereby mudding the waters with fuzzy math.  Pundits and politicians should be aware of the consequences of false statistics they peddle as such pronouncements, if not corrected may become reference statistics for future entitlements or inequitable distribution of the bounties of economics, social and other democratic accruals. Government should endeavor to publish and educate the public with accurate statistics or census figures. Judicial matters should not be adjudicated in the pages of newspapers or radio propaganda since such tendencies are misleading to the public and may result in unintended consequence or undue riot in the event of unfavorable ruling to the expectation of either side of the contesting parties.

Nigeria’s Supreme Court on trial

There was an old man named Ogbulu who stole a goat and put it in his shoulder bag.  The youths chased Ogbulu who ran and encountered another old man. Ogbulu looked the old man straight in the eyes and asked him to use the eye of the elder to examine the content of the shoulder bag.  The elder, upon seeing the fear in the eyes of Ogbulu, sighed and shook his head. The youths, though not convinced walked away and the seed of distrust may have been sowed. Justice bought is justice delayed or denied.  The Supreme Court of Nigeria should not be bamboozled into passing false judgment to appease either side. There was a Judge in Umuahia Eastern Nigeria who if you came into his court with clean hands you will be set free, but if you came to the court with “Ngari” bribe, you will be jailed.  The question: is the Supreme Court of Nigeria for sale to any bidder?  The Ngwa turn and the Abia Charter of Equity as a political card may not be to the best interest of Abia State. Was this Abia Charter of equity before the creation of Ebonyi state?

The “Steering” argument

Stirring  argument is at best a divergent  tactic used by proponents to cast doubt about an opponent, in recent years popularized by Donald Trump during President Obama’s run for the White House, it did not work as Obama went on to become the President of USA.  Donald Trump is currently making the steering argument against one of his rivals Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination. Aba is a melting pot for Igbo nation such that a vast majority of those born in Aba or other parts of Ngwa land trace their origin to other parts of Eastern Nigeria or in some cases other parts of Nigeria including Middle Belt… Bende, Arochukwu, Ohafia, Nkwere, Ibibio, Cross River, Rivers, Awka-ibom, Mbaise and so forth.  While Okezie Ikpeazu’s origin could be retraced to Mbaise and Akwa-ibom, Alex Otis’s origin is said to be traced to Arochukwu, so the argument of Otis’s origin or Ikpeazus origin is a wash. Does the position of the electoral laws and the Abia Charter of equity stipulate town of origin as a requirement for the Governorship of Abia so long as you are from Abia State?

Leaders to emulate

 It took Dr. Michael Okpara to reposition Eastern Nigeria to agricultural bastion through his farm settlement projects, Sam Mbakwe of Old Imo State laid infrastructural projects and set environment records through his Sulo projects and other environmental engineering activities. Needless to say that the oil boom destroyed the agrarian revolution. Ikpeazu may be trying to rewrite his environmental record and Oti may be presumed as a technocrat to become a better manager, the reference is made to Anambra State where Chris Ngige rode on a stolen mandate for 2 years and the Supreme Court sided with Peter Obi who repositioned Anambra state.  Ngige during his short tenure set the road map for rural development in Anambra through his Uzo Ngige projects.  If you do well, posterity will remember you.  The Supreme Court will not rule in Ikpeazu’s favor based on the number of roads contracted or commissioned or flaged off, Ikpeazu may be laying a foundation for his future political legacy just like Ngige. Ikpeazu’s exit if the Supreme Court upholds the Appeal Court decision, to a large extent will impact the corporate existence of Aba where so many interest groups compose the nucleus of the town, people from Ukwa axis, Bende, Umuahia, Ngwa minorities’… Owerrinta, Ugba junction and etc. have a stake in Aba.

Fear Factor

Fear according to the novelist James Hardly Chase is the Key …..  In USA, fear of the law is next to fear of the Lord and that is what makes America a stable country where nobody is above the law, conversely, in Nigeria today, the act of instilling fear on the populace and sometime threatening the government has been used as a tactic to influence elections, petitions and sometime judiciary judgments.
Examples of fear factors in Nigeria include the robbery gang led by Anini in Midwest who terrorized and unleashed fear on the general public, the Abacha regime, Otokoto saga, Bakasi and recently Osisikankwu in Abia State were fear phenomenon that came to pass while the Niger Delta Militants, Boko Haram and others are yet to be eradicated.

The Igbe Ozu episode during the election was a low blow and an insult to the psyche of Abia people. Whoever used Igbe ozu (coffins) as a political ploy to intimidate Abia people owe Abians an appology or the culprits will sooner or later find igbe ozu in their own domain.  Abia people have only God to fear. Whoever returns Abia to the days of Osisikankwu era will themselves have Osisikankwu self heaped in their own domain.
Politicians and their cronies should not underestimate the fact that Aba bu Nzogbu Enyimba.
The writer believes that the Supreme Court of Nigeria will rise to the challenge, and Abia State will be calm after initial rumblings. “Eziokwu bu ndu” and Abia state will rise again.

Okorie Ibeka

Abia: Ikpeazu is delaying reality — Umeh

Abia State Governorship Election Appeal Crisis Moment
Victor Umeh

The faceoff between the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP over control of the Abia State Government House has lately been at the issue of discourse in political circles in the state and among concerned political stakeholders. At issue is the judgment of the Court of Appeal nullifying the election of Governor Okeizie Ikpeazu of the PDP as governor on the basis of alleged irregularities in three local government areas of the state. The court in its decision pronounced the APGA governorship candidate, Dr. Alex Otti as the rightful winner of the election, a judgment that has elicited strong approvals and disapprovals based on political sentiments.

Two partisans of the two men in separate interviews review the issues on ground ahead of the Supreme Court judgment that will put a seal to the agitations of the two contending camps.
Chief Victor Umeh, the immediate past national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the party’s candidate in the Anambra Central Senatorial district in this interview affirms the party’s victory in the Abia State governorship election.

What is your take on the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which has offered your party a window of taking over Abia State and the way some lawyers are faulting that judgement?

I think that Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has only one option left in law and that is proceeding to the Supreme Court to challenge the judgement of the Court of Appeal.
I don’t have any problem with him going to the apex court to challenge the judgement because it is his constitutional right. But to begin to sponsor mayhem in Abia State because there was a judgement against him is what I consider barbaric.

Requisite spread

The judgement of the Court of Appeal would not have come to any man of justice with any surprise because the Abia governorship election was won by Dr. Alex Otti convincingly with the requisite spread across the state.
He was the most popular candidate in that election and Abia people yearned for change from what they have been experiencing in the previous administration.

So, Otti became the new face of hope for the people and that was why the major city in Abia State – Aba became a no go area for the candidates of the other parties other than Otti.
All the rural local governments were also for him. I was there during the election and Otti won everywhere except the three local governments where they decided to do the impossible – the home local government of Ikpeazu (Obingwa), where the PDP got 82, 000 votes out of 86, 000 registered voters and APGA getting only 1,000 votes.
In Osisioma, PDP got 42, 000 votes and they allocated 900 to APGA.

Returning officer

You can now see how Ikpeazu got over 120, 000 votes from just two local governments in an election that recorded about 25 per cent voters’ turnout across the local governments in the state. Such things cannot be tolerated in sane society.
You will recall that the returning officer in that election cancelled the results from the three local governments based on reports from his officials on the field. Against this scenario, Ikpeazu is still claiming that he won the election.

He lost the election and what the Court of Appeal did was to serve justice to the person who deserves it. Otti won the election and you could see that from the spontaneous eruption of excitement and jubilation in Abia State the day the Court of Appeal ruled on the matter.
So, the peoples’ mandate has been restored to the person they gave it to, but as soon as that jubilation was shown on television, Ikpeazu and his party sent money across to the local government to organize people to come and protest in Umuahia and Aba.

Their thinking is that if they don’t protest, the Supreme Court may think that the judgement was popular.
 But a number of lawyers have come out on television to argue against the judgment of the Court of Appeal?
I am so surprised when I see such things. I never believed that it is possible for lawyers to start passing judgement on a matter that is subjudice.

I saw one SAN on television talking in a manner that in a civilized society, his certificate would be withdrawn from him. Even if he is an expert in Constitutional Law, he remains a lawyer.

Delivering judgement
He cannot become a judge when he is an advocate. He is fully aware that this matter has gone to the Supreme Court but he is busy delivering judgement on behalf of the apex court.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should sanction him because his conduct is unethical. What he should have done is to seek to consult for Ikpeazu or to represent him in court and not to come on television and start disparaging the judgement delivered by the Court of Appeal that has competent jurisdiction on the matter.
He cannot pretend not to know that he is usurping the powers of the Supreme Court by making such unguarded statements and inciting the public.

curled from Vanguard News Online February 3, 2016

Abia: S-Court ‘ll do justice — Okpara

Abia State Governorship Election Appeal Crisis Moment
James Okpara

The faceoff between the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP over control of the Abia State Government House has lately been at the issue of discourse in political circles in the state and among concerned political stakeholders. At issue is the judgment of the Court of Appeal nullifying the election of Governor Okeizie Ikpeazu of the PDP as governor on the basis of alleged irregularities in three local government areas of the state. The court in its decision pronounced the APGA governorship candidate, Dr. Alex Otti as the rightful winner of the election, a judgment that has elicited strong approvals and disapprovals based on political sentiments.

Two partisans of the two men in separate interviews review the issues on ground ahead of the Supreme Court judgment that will put a seal to the agitations of the two contending camps.

IMMEDIATE past Commissioner for Special Services, Legal Matters and Due Process, Office in Abia State, Mr. James Okpara, a lawyer, has picked holes in the Court of Appeal judgement nullifying the election of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and awarding victory to Dr Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, saying the Supreme Court will do justice on the matter and uphold the overwhelming wishes of the people of Abia State.

By Clifford Ndujihe

On why protests greeted the Court of Appeal judgement
We have to understand what is happening from the historical perspective of Abia State politics. Abia is divided into two distinct blocs – the old Bende Division and the old Aba Division. The old Bende Division has eight local government areas and the old Aba Division has nine.

Abia North is exclusively old Bende, Abia South is exclusively old Aba; and then in Abia Central, we have three local government areas from each of the two divisions. This is the composition of Abia State.
Starting from the First Republic, Dr M. I. Okpara, Premier of Eastern Region, was from old Bende Division and when you come to the period of the military rule, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Major General Ike Nwachukwu, Amadi Ikweche, Admiral Chijioke Kaja, Navy Captain Osondu were all from old Bende.
Also, the first civilian governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, is from old Bende, before the creation of Ebonyi State, when his community became part of today’s Ebonyi State.

Civilian governors

The remaining former civilian governors, Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Ahamefule Orji, were also both from old Bende though under the current political division, Kalu is from Abia North while Orji is from Abia Central.
So, this has been the issue. No Ngwa person had governed the state. All they have produced since the days of the late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe of old Imo State were deputy governors.

The two deputy governors that Mbakwe had, Dr Agbalaha and Chief Paul Uzoigwe, were all from Ngwa land. It is as if the rest of the state is saying that the old Aba cannot produce the governor of the state. So, Abians came together and felt that it is fair that the current governor of Abia State should come from Ngwa land, from old Aba Division, especially from Abia South, or if you like, from Ukwa Ngwa. This is based on rotation.
During the last election, practically all the political parties chose their governorship candidates from Abia South as a sign that everyone accepts the need for fairness based on rotation. So, for the first time they had the chance and they voted overwhelmingly for their son.
So, for someone to say suddenly that this thing they have been dreaming of and got is no longer so is unacceptable, to them.

This is part of the tension, especially because they were or about to be denied this opportunity. Obingwa, the local government area of origin of the governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, and the two neighbouring LGAs, Isialangwa North and Osisioma, which is his natural base, the votes of these three local government areas, which favoured him overwhelmingly, were totally cancelled by the Court of Appeal.

This means that Ikpeazu, his wife, family and relatives did not vote for him. Another issue here is the voting pattern of Abia State. We all know that to win a governorship election in Abia State, you must win Obingwa and Bende. Otti won in Bende and Ikpeazu won overwhelmingly in Obingwa, his local government of origin, only for the court to cancel it, in addition to Osisioma and Isialangwa North.
Now, when you look at the voting strength of these three LGAs, it is one-third of the entire voting strength of Abia State. So, there is nowhere A or B can win Abia governorship election without the result of one-third of the state’s voting strength.

As a lawyer, if you were to preside over the appeal, what would you have done?

I would have thrown out Dr. Otti’s appeal as lacking any merit. Look, Dr. Okezie won the election fair and square. What the court said, making references to the malfunctioning of the card reader, was that there was over-voting and rigging.

But no evidence of rigging or electoral malpractice was tendered before the court. No security agency, the Police, the Army, Navy, etc, gave any evidence of violence or malpractice.
What the court said was that the card reader showed that X Y Z voters were accredited through the card reader and more votes were cast.

So, the court cancelled the elections in those three LGAs and ruled that there was over-voting. But everyone in Nigeria knows that in the 2015 election it was not only the card readers’ accreditation that was used. INEC announced openly that because the card readers were malfunctioning, manual accreditation should be used to support it.

curled from Vanguard News Online February 3, 2016


Abia State Governorship Election Appeal Crisis Moment
New and Old High Court Umuahia
God’s own state has become a private inheritance for a few families in the last sixteen years. The thesis of objective governance is designated  to find its revolving content on democracy as framework of ruling or leadership implementations, but the constructs had been a trend of obvious mismatch. It is not in my interest to blame or criticize Orji Uzor Kalu, nor am I preoccupied with the manner and approach of Theo Orji his successor, who just handed the rolling ball to Ikpeazu, nor do I know Oti as the anticipated messiah for the Abians. My point is that a Leadership paradigm should focus on the people and for the people.

The problem of leadership in Nigeria, with great emphasis in Igboland is that we evaluate leaders after their time of governance. Evaluation for the sake of progress should be three dimensional--pre-existing, existing and post-existing. Democracy explains that power belongs to the people; and the people handover this power to the politicians with political will and trust. Unfortunately, politicians have always taken the birthright of abusing this privilege because amidst their misrepresentation of power, they receive praise from the abused masses even when we criticize their administrative flaws and throw blames on how they carry out leadership motifs. They understand very radically that it is about speech and not about action. Until our people settle into creating a comprehensive paradigm of addressing these political mismatches used by the politicians in a consistent systematic action orientated steps, things will remain the same.

To be a good leader entails ruling from the heart, but because the Nigerian political setting is an affair of the jungle, most of the guys in the game have lost their hearts. Therefore, there are no ethics behind political intentions and implementations. Therefore the “Jungle construct” is another big problem in the political organizational setting that should be at the root of our concern when leadership is about killing, murdering, assassination and destruction of pre-existing communal goods at the prompting of private intents and interests. For instance, Theo Orji, in an attempt to shatter the pre-existing institutional structures that empower the people of Abia to a sustainable level of survival, he demolished the Umuahia Main Market, so that all the people and constituted institutions who relied on that market for survival will either die or leave the state. Instead of empowering the people, he rather enrolled the masses into unemployment. Great institutions at the center of Umuahia began to settle in poverty, fear, humiliation and pain.

An ethnographic understanding of this political situation, informs us that the people need a change, but my question is: where are we going? Is it a matter of context-which is either Ikpeazu or Oti, or are we beginning to radically focus on the reality of leadership--the people, dispensation of communal resources or common good for effective development and enlightenment? I know the Supreme Court, considering the trends of leadership and political dynamics in God’s own state, will play a decent role by highlighting the font of justice for whoever should manage the fallen house of Abia State. In a nutshell, my concern is that politicians should have a “rethink” paradigm, shaped for significant change and our people should change their political perspective with meaningful actions for the future is radically not in the hands of politicians but in God’s sovereign plan.

Chukwuemeka Aribe.


Abia Tribunal Rulings, NO Victor, No Vanquish.
(Opinion piece)


Since the week, there have been serial defeats and serial victories from the rulings of the Election Petition Tribunal. But, I declare that, in a sense, there is no victor, no vanquish. There is no loser, no winner. We have only one victor and one winner and that is our state, Abia, constituted by the people and the masses of our constituencies; the people whose will and aspirations have been upheld by the impartial judiciary, the last bastion of hope for the masses.

This is our spirit and our attitude as government over the rulings by the Election Petition Tribunal. The victories are not the victories of individual ambition or the victories of a party but the victories of the standards of democracy. To Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, it is the victory of our state over any fettering chain that will draw us backward. It is the triumph of the new spirit with which he intends to expand the frontiers of our human existence as one people united by our common ancestry as Abians.

We have not won a war and therefore there are no captives and no prisoners of war. We have merely won the wishes of the people. We have only ensured that their hope and aspirations are not thwarted; that their divine mandate is not hijacked. The law and the tribunal have only defended the will and soul of the people of Abia and we are only witnesses to the smooth berth of the wheel of justice.
After the elections, the Governor moved away from politics to governance. Abia and all her citizens both home and abroad are the subjects of the Governor. From the thick rainforest of Ukwa East to the rolling hills of Arochukwu and Umunneochi, the Governor has stamped his feet with development projects. The victor is Abia and the vanquish are all the cankerworms that have held us backward like ghost worker syndrome, paddling of vouchers, inflation of contract rates, crime and banditry, visionless leadership, etc.

Thus, there was no need for the kind of timid reactions by the members and supporters of the major opposition group who, having lost out in the Appeal Court ruling and the other rulings of the State Tribunal, took to the streets and resorted to violent demonstration as a reaction to the rulings. The scene created by these misguided elements along the Umuahia/Ikot Ekpene Road on Tuesday after the ruling on the National Assembly petitions that caused a breach of peace was glaringly uncalled for. The planned importation of thugs into the state and instigation of members of Movement for the Actualization of the Soverign State of Biafra (MASSOB) against the state was quite unnecessary.
Their aim was to create an atmosphere of pandemonium and thereby portray the state as being in crisis over the rulings that mostly favoured the ruling party, PDP . It was a desperate strategy directed entirely to blackmail the tribunal into perverting the course of justice by giving the impression that there is a total breakdown of law and order as a result of the tribunal rulings. Regrettably, it fell flat and has been badly counterproductive.
I wonder why APGA will take to this tattered route. They have always boasted of having an unflinching faith in the tribunal, of a strong faith that the tribunal will dispense justice accordingly. An APGA apologists had ran a serial media campaign with the title, Waiting on the Wheel of Justice. But, yesterday, they held a press conference in which they made uncharitable statements to malign the integrity of the jurists. They are now blackmailing the judges of the tribunal, accusing them of having been bribed with monetary gratification and having been compromised with houses worth N6 billion each in Atlanta, USA. Their problem now is not about the wheel of justice but about the recipient of justice. Hypocrisy!

I call the leaders of APGA to the responsibility of statesmanship. The test of statesmanship is to win gallantly and lose gallantly. A statesman must exercise the maturity to win with honour and lose with honour. In any situation, what are at stake are the state and the community and not the individual ambition. Former President Goodluck Jonathan raised that bar for Nigerians and for this singular act alone, his name shall ever remain indelible in the hall of fame. His portrait shall ever stand on the honour’s gallery.
In view of the unfolding scenario, it has become imperative to remind APGA and their overzealous members not to take the calm and accommodating disposition of the government for granted as the government will not allow any breach of peace or any attempt to create insecurity in the state. This will surely be resisted with the full weight of the law.

All citizens should respect the rule of law and respect the judiciary as an impartial arbiter of justice. If APGA members have had a bad case in the tribunal, there is still a window in the appeal court. The right recourse is not to take to the streets or resort to creating mayhem.
We are therefore appealing to all citizens to remain law abiding and not to dare the might of power. The first mandate of government is the maintenance of law and order and protection of lives and property and therefore the government cannot fold its arms and watch a group foment trouble or cause chaos in order to disturb the peace in the state.
There is no victor; there is no vanquish. Our state and democracy are the winners.
Adindu is the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia Governor







Jennifer Edobi