THE JUDICIAL RESUSCITATION OF PDP & MATTERS ARISING
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A couple of weeks ago following the worrisome sack of many PDP governors and Legislators by the Court of Appeal, I wrote an article " The Judicial decimation of PDP & Its Implications". Among other things, I drew the attention of Nigerians to the dangers of a one- party state. With the way things were going, it looked like most of the subdued electoral victories of the PDP in the States and in the legislature were being reversed. The matter disturbed all fair minded Nigerians. Even the Chief Justice of Nigeria noted the glaring inconsistency in the judicial declarations of the Justices of the Appeal Court. But in the last week or so, the tide seemed to have changed and the Supreme Court weighed in strongly on the side of PDP. This piece is therefore to bring a balance to the earlier one that spoke of Judicial decimation, because what has happened in the last couple of days is judicial resuscitation.
The Supreme Court confirmed the elections of Governors Ayade of Cross River State, Okowa of Delta State and Umahi of EBONYI State who though had no problem with the Appeal Court, still faced litigation at the Supreme Court. Then it reversed the verdicts of the tribunal and appeal courts in Rivers State. To me that was the most outstanding of the Supreme Court adjudications. From the day the elections were held in April 2015, the APC had alleged that no elections held. The campaign was so strong that many people who live outside Rivers State were persuaded to believe this position. When the Tribunal cancelled the Election and asked for a re-run, many thought there was no other way to go. Then when the Appeal Court confirmed the verdict of the Tribunal, it was thought that APC had proved its position beyond any doubts. Indeed if any iota of doubts still existed, it was completely obliterated by the massive sack of the Legislators who had been elected on the platform of the PDP. So when Governor Wike went on further appeal to the Supreme Court, such people concluded that he was on a wild goose chase, that there was no way the Appeal Court could reverse what the two lower courts had done. Such views were expressed by many legal luminaries including Prof Itsay Sagay. So when the Supreme Court eventually reversed the verdicts of the lower courts, and rather than ask for a rerun , affirmed that Wike was lawfully elected, many were taken aback.
The Supreme Court affirmation of the elections of Governors Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State and Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State were not as shocking but they were equally impactful. In Akwa Ibom, the Appeal Court reversed the Tribunal and asked for a rerun but the Supreme Court said no, that Udom won the election fair and square. From the heat, the propaganda and legal muscle-flexing, it seemed that the APC was more than determined to win Akwa Ibom State. But the Supreme Court has denied them that. In the case of Abia, there were expectations that the Supreme Court would rather ask that the elections be rerun in the three troubled LGAs of Ossisioma, Obingwa and Isiala Ngwa North . This was where the returning officer Prof Ozurumba over reached his powers by first canceling the elections and then changing his mind and then reinstating the results. So when the Appeal Court decided to go the way of Prof Ozurumba and cancelled the result from the three LGAs, denying Dr Ikpeazu the right to have voted in his own ward, many people raised their eye brows. So it was widely expected that the Supreme Court would bring a balance by asking for a rerun at least in the three LGAs. But the ultimate Court went for the jugular and confirmed that Dr Okezie won the election in the first ballot and there was no need to go through the cycle again.
With these Supreme Court decisions, it is clear that a life line has been offered a party in apparent decline . There are implications and matters that have arisen from the clinical work that has been done by the Supreme Court.First is that what ever reservations anyone may have and I have heard and read many, the Supreme Court verdicts are final. Since that is the last appellate body, we have to accept the verdicts. In which case all litigants should follow the example of Dr. Alex Otti who recently addressed the Press to declare that despite their reservations, He and his party have accepted the judgement of the Supreme Court. To do otherwise will tantamount to overheating the polity and causing further distraction to good governance. The 2015 election cycle must be brought to a closure for the good of all. After all, he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
Secondly, it must be pointed out that the Supreme Court judgements have brought some stability to the Nation. It is certain that the Reverred Judges came to their verdicts on points of law, giving the evidence and records before them, but from my perspective, there seems to have been an effort to bring stability to the Nation. I may be wrong, but when I think of what would have happened should a rerun have happened in Rivers , Akwa Ibom and Abia States, I shudder. With what happened at Bayelsa rerun in only one local government, Rivers rerun would have been the equivalent of 'World War 3'. So intended or unintended the Supreme Court judgements have saved this Nation a lot of innocent and perhaps not -so -innocent lives, and other collateral damages.
Thirdly, this judicial resuscitation gives PDP a new opportunity to reinvent itself and properly assume the role of an opposition party. That the result of the 2015 elections battered the party is there for everybody to see. And if it had lost the the four States which were in hot judicial contention- Taraba, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia, the party's descent to irrelevance would have been speeded up. I do not know how they would do it or who would do it for PDP, but it badly needs a new crop of leaders who play politics differently from the way the party had played it in recent times. The party must return to the path of its founders- The G28 and put service above self and National Interest above partisan political interest.
It is a pity that People like Senator Ken Nnamani who are expected to lead this change are throwing in the towel. Well, it is human beings that bring change to every institution and I am hoping that God will send to PDP such people who can lead a rebirth. Jumping the ship to APC which is the popular move now by PDP decampees will not serve this Country well. It will weaken opposition and may actually in the long run destabilize the APC. This Country deserves two strong parties that will offer the people a distinct choice and not the same of the same.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR