ARTICLE: THE SUPREME COURT DRAWS DELUGE OF TEARS IN IKA LAND – EGWU NWACHUKWU

The judiciary is believed all over the world to be the bastion of hope for the common man, but the same cannot be said to be true in the case of Nigeria. Though we have had exceptional circumstances where Magistrates and Justices or some courts have exhibited exemplary courage and brought justice to bear, more often than not, the reverse is the case. Many judges have several times buckled under political pressure and financial inducement, to stand justice on its head. The Supreme Court ruling of Monday, 13th December, 2010 on the matter between Kingsley Nonye Philip and Barr. Martin Okonta; though predicated on Mr. Philip’s delay to forward his statement of defence has come as insensitive and anti-people as can be. The upturning of the decision of the appellate court in Benin did not evidently take adequate cognisance of the chronological and logical development of the case, and it came to the people of Ikaland especially in the South as a rude shock and a stamp on the gross erosion of the people’s confidence in the judiciary.
 
It will be recalled how the people, who are the true determinants of who should and who should not represent them under a democratic dispensation; including men, women, and the youths, trouped out enmasse in protest at Agbor and Asaba, against the protracted court hearing and delayed judgement in the said matter, shortly after which the popular judgement that reinstated the people’s choice was given. It is also fresh in mind the hilarious jubilation that rent the air from all nooks and crannies of Ika land, Alifekede to Igbodo, Abavo to Igbanke, when the judgement was eventually given in favour of Kingsley. What transpired became a triumph not just for Kingsley and the democratic at heart, but for all peoples of Delta state, which the Supreme Court ruling has returned to truncate. The question arises, on whose side does justice really go, on the guilty or for the innocent? Perhaps, Justice Dahiru Musdapher and his 4 colleagues in the Supreme Court were oblivious of the actual bone of contention in the matter or felt abnormally challenged by Kingsley seeming lukewarm responses to their demands for submission of defence statement.
It is known that any court’s ruling is usually based on the evidence before it.
 
That perhaps is why I am at a lost as to what informed the Justices decision to ask that Martin Okonta return to the House of Assembly despite the fact that he was never elected ab initio. Does his submission that he was precluded in the case against his principal, the PDP at the appellate court in Benin obliterate the truth of his circumstance, which is, that he never went through any election in the first place. This position is further reinforced by the recent judgement in favour of Great Ogboru in the matter between him and Dr. Uduaghan, incidentally from the same Delta state. The learned judges in this matter ruled that Ogboru was able to show beyond reasonable doubt that election to the position of the Governor of Delta state did not hold on the voting day. Taking into account that the election into the Delta State House of Assembly supposedly took place at the same time and places, on the same day as the gubernatorial one, by extension, election did not also take place into the DHA in 2007. On what premise therefore, did the highest court in the land, the final arbiter, base their judgement for Okonta to return to DHA.
 
What was in contention between Okonta and Philip was that the name of the former was surreptitiously, illegally and maliciously substituted for the latter by the carbonic regime of Uduaghan, an equally fraudulent governor, who masterminded the cooked-up contestants list that was despatched to Abuja. The same thing happened with the list of LGA and state executives of the party who did not go through any form of congress, but were rather hand picked and presented to the national body as true representatives of the party in the state. What is perhaps most disheartening is the role of the PDP National Executive who are aware of these atrocious manipulations but choose to look elsewhere. If truly one is to doubt the suspicion in some quarters that some underhand arrangements would have taken place between PDP big wigs and the Justices of the Supreme Court, which informed the unusual acceleration of the disposal of Okonta’s appeal to them, then the expectation at worst would have been for the Supreme Court to order a re-trial of the matter at the appeal court level or a re-run nomination process or contest between the litigants, to expose where exactly the people’s sympathies lie. This is against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s position that Okonta was not joined in the suit at the appellate court and therefore tantamount to denying him fair hearing, and in recognition of the fact that it is “trite in law that proper parties were in court so that they would be bound by the effect of the action”. The Supreme Court should have taken certain peculiar circumstances in this matter into close account before favouring Okonta. What for instance is the implication of this judgement on the fate of the current Acting Governor of Delta state that was only holding forte for the embattled speaker while his travails lasted. It must not also be forgotten that Hon. Dumbiri Uweh has reiterated the fact that he has not actually been settled by anyone to forget his pending case in the Abuja High Court against the same Acting governor, Prince Sam Obi whose name was superimposed on that of Dumbiri by the same Civilian Cabal in Delta State.
 
Methinks, there is something intrinsically and morally wrong with the Supreme Court judgement. It smirks of some underhand connivance to deny the people what absolutely belong to them, their right of a choice. This is not too surprising, because another court in Abuja, headed by Justice Kafarati recently dismissed INEC’s refusal to accept the PDP state executives presented to it, as representational, ruling instead that the electoral body lacked the legal power to interfere with the internal affairs of the party. Does it mean that INEC lacks the legal duty to apply the electoral rule which states that it is duty bound to supervise congresses? The situation can be likened to the fight between a husband and wife, who by virtue of their union are now one, where the one inflicts bodily injury on the other, and is absorbed of the guilt on the ground that both parties are supposedly one.
 
What the Supreme Court and High Court judgements portend for the peace and harmony in Delta state is grave. It has further sharpened the cabal teeth to continue to foist the Ibori philosophy on the party, making it a robot in the hands of few individuals. These rulings remain thumbs up for them, urging them to “carry go boys” and this is profoundly unfortunate. Ika people have suffered enough in the hands of political gladiators and manipulators who believe that the peoples’ lives depend on them for sustenance. The judiciary mustn’t be seen to be complicating issues by the kinds of ruling they churn out without taking into cognisance the overall interest of the public. It is painful, grossly unacceptable, a complete negation of the peoples’ right and an astronomic display of judicial rascality. We know that the bent claws of PDP manipulators is at work again in this dispensation, but just like the case of Ibori, many of them shall have karma knocking on their doors sooner than they ever imagined. However, the earlier the tide is stemmed, political excesses and outrageous and immoral judgements curtailed, the sooner we stop creating political destitute and dissidents.

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