Temple Chima UbochiMonday, November 9, 2015
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Bonn, Germany




Honor lies in honest toil (Grover Cleveland)

You learn how to be a gracious winner and an outstanding loser (Joe Namath)

Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something (Morihei Ueshiba)

We live, breath and think of Abia State and we take full responsibility all the time (Governor Okezie Ikpeazu)

he Abia State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, on Tuesday, 3rd November 2015, upheld the victory of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in the April 11 gubernatorial election in the state. The Tribunal said Dr. Alex Otti and APGA failed to convince it beyond doubt that they won the election. In an 85-minute judgment delivered by the Chairman, Usman Bwala, the Tribunal said the petitioners, Alex Otti and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), did not prove their claim to have won the election "beyond doubt". Bwala said that the petitioners had on one hand, urged the court to nullify the election on grounds that it was marred by irregularities and massive fraud, and on the other hand, sought that they should be declared winners of the same election.? In the judgment, the Tribunal said that Alex Otti failed to prove allegations of criminality and over voting in three local government areas beyond reasonable doubt. In dismissing the petition, the Tribunal ruled that Dr. Alex Otti's case lacked merit.

Yours truly joins millions of others in congratulating Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on this his victory at the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal. No doubt, Abia indigenes and their well wishers were happy with the verdict of the tribunal. Many were happy that the matter had been settled so that the government would focus on its plans for the state.

Failure was fully programmed for Dr. Alex Otti's case, right from the start, because, his lawyers did a very bad job, as they didn't channel the case well. Tell me how Dr. Otti was asking the Tribunal to annul the election due to irregularities, and at the same time, asking that he be declared the winner. It makes no sense! The burden of proof or onus probandi lied on Alex Otti, and he failed to give the Tribunal the reason to cancel Dr. Ikpeazu's election, or, the reason to declare him, Dr. Otti, the winner.

Litigation doesn't always mean victory; in that, a person who takes a case to court, against another person, doesn't always win. When somebody takes a case to court, he or she will not be sure of the outcome, because, the case must be argued, and the evidence looked at, by the judge or judges, before a judgment is rendered. Some people think that once they take a case to court, that they're sure of winning. Sometimes, one laughs because of the frivolous lawsuits or petitions some people take to the courts or tribunals. And, if the judge or judges are not compromised, he/they would have no problem in dismissing such cases. The problem in Nigeria is that most of our judges are corrupt, and corruption that has eaten deep into every facet of the Nigerian society, didn't spare the judiciary. We know that many judges have come under the hammer of the National Judicial Council due to misconduct and bribe-taking. Some of the judges were even disrobed. Infact, the Nigerian judiciary is one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, making one to wonder where president Buhari will get the judges, who are incorruptible, who would sit at the proposed anti-corruption courts to try loots of our patrimony.

Thank God that the judges of the Abia State Election Petitions Tribunal refused to be compromised, despite all that was done by the petitioner to that effect! The pressure on the Tribunal judges was almost overwhelming, that they, the judges, had to warn that those who have been trying to compromise them in order to influence their judgment, should desist from such act, as they are not interested in bribe, and will not hesitate to deal with such person(s). It was when the petitioner failed to compromise the judges that he and his party, APGA, started peddling falsehood and propaganda, accusing the Tribunal judges of having taken side with the respondent, after taking huge sum of money from him. The petitioner and his party were deceiving many citizens of the state with false hope that the Tribunal would rule in their favour. All the tricks of the petitioner failed to sway the judges or their judgment. The Tribunal judges took their time to deeply consider and reflect on all the materials and testimonies before rendering their judgment. One wonders how Dr. Otti came to be dreaming about his declaration as the winner of the Abia State governorship election, or, the possibility of a rerun, when there was no remote reason for such.

Immediately after the judgment, the lead counsel to Otti and APGA, Mr. Ndionyenma Nwankwo, said the legal team would study the judgment and decide on the next line of action. Infact, I learnt that Alex Otti has decided to challenge the verdict of the Tribunal at the Court of Appeal. At the same time, the governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, said he is not bothered over the plan by Alex Otti and his Party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to appeal the judgment of the tribunal which upheld his election. APGA National Chairman, Victor Oye, while addressing the party supporters after the governorship election judgment which they lost, said that they would appeal against it up to the Supreme Court. Responding through his spokesperson, Governor Ikpeazu said he would be willing to meet Otti and his party at the Court of Appeal and even the Supreme Court, if he so desires. According to the governor, after defeating him at the election, the rerun, and at the tribunal, there was nothing to be afraid of. The governor, through his spokesperson, affirmed that what the tribunal did during its judgment was to reaffirm the mandate the people of the state gave to him during the April 11 governorship election, and that he was not losing sleep over the decision to appeal by APGA. The governor, through his spokesperson, advised Alex Otti not to allow emotions and sentiments to push him to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and further advised him to rather channel his resources to other areas, as he will surely fail at any of the higher courts. In his words: "If Otti has the interest of the state at heart, he should then go and sleep after losing at the tribunal and the election proper. The National Chairman of APGA should mind his language and stop disparaging the judges of the tribunal; they should go home and prepare for another election instead of blaming the judges for their lost".

I have reiterated it so many times before that Ikpeazu has a divine mandate nobody can take away. The import of Dr. Ikpeazu's victory, first at the polls, and then at the Tribunal, can't be over-emphasized, because, it carried with it the emancipation of a greater majority of Abians. Hitherto, the Ngwa people have been cajoled and humiliated. But Ikpeazu's election was a sort of liberation for them.

Alex Otti should be glad that the Abia people didn't know what they know now; otherwise, he would have received lesser votes during the gubernatorial election. Many of those who saw Okezie Ikpeazu as a political godson or a political offshoot of T.A. Orji, and were skeptical about his ability to perform, taking into consideration that T.A. Orji, who anointed him, was a failure himself, are now impressed that Okezie Ikpeazu is everything T.A. Orji wasn't, in that he, Ikpeazu, has done more good to Abia State, in less than six months, than his predecessors, T.A. Orji and Orji Uzo Kalu, did in their respective 8years in office. As I wrote in one of my previous articles, Abia State has been missing qualitative leadership since its creation, but, it's not looking further anymore, as Okezie Ikpeazu has come with the requisite leadership skill. It will never be the same again in the state.

To be concluded!