Nigerians who are discerning enough know that the future of our country is inextricably linked with the pronouncements of the Judiciary. Several times the forces which hamper the rule of law, democratic change and unbiased justice delivery have attempted to sully the enviable level of equity the judiciary has
come to exemplify. From time to time, some office holders within the judiciary either through forceful inducement or unlawful enticement have attempted to entangle our judicial system in the abominable vice of compromising justice.
But luckily enough, despite these challenges, the judiciary has showed it is above board. Its firm stance on justice is time and time again what has sustained the common citizen. When some of its members flaunted the stipulations of the constitution or indulged in other condemnable atrocities as in the cases of Justices Wilson Egbo-Egbo and Stanley Nnaji, it moved swiftly to establish itself as a pillar of right judgment which has no empathy with corruption.
Many legal icons have dared threats and executive highhandedness to stand firmly for justice. In this regard, the Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court are notable for their doggedness. These men have smitten the devil to deliver judgments that have been hailed as sagely and historic.
One of such judgements was its landmark interpretation of the tenure of Mr Peter Obi, the Governor of Anambra State. Nigerians can attest to the ovation with which the judgement was received. The Supreme Court interpreted that Mr Obi rule for four years despite the duration of his mandate being partly usurped by the illegality of the Ngige regime. This action of the courts went on to assure Nigerians that even if the Executive be mired in corruption and administrative deceit and the Legislature in self-service, the Judiciary will remain for us the beacon of hope.
During that historic ruling of June 14, 2007, the judges of the Supreme Court lambasted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for going on to conduct the April 14 elections that it declared Andy Uba the winner of. In the words of the court, as read by Justice Katsina-Alu, the said election was a display of effrontery by INEC aimed at rendering nugatory the decision of the court. Their Honourable Justices went on to warn that the court cannot condone this kind of behaviour and we condemned INEC’s action severely.
The condemnation of the Supreme Court judges on the actions of INEC during this ruling was thorough. They did not mince words to add that the office of Governor of Anambra State was not vacant as at 29th May, 2007; that the tenure of Peter Obi, the Governor of Anambra State which is four years will not expire until March 17, 2010; and, that Andy Uba, the purported winner of the April 14 elections for Anambra Governorship seat should vacate office immediately.
It is evident from the first proviso of the ruling of the Justices of the Supreme Court that the election which brought Andy Uba into power was ab initio a nullity. This is because INEC cannot conduct an election for an office that is not vacant. This is clear both from the Electoral Act and from the 1999 constitution.
It is in line with this historic pronouncement of the venerable justices that Ndi Anambra are anticipating eagerly the judgment of the Appellate Court Enugu before which Mr. Andy Uba has gone to declare him the Governor of Anambra State-in-waiting.
Let us remember that the wild celebration which ensued in Anambra State after Mr Andy Uba was thrown out of office by the judges of the Supreme Court is rivalled only by the celebrations that greeted the death of Sani Abacha in the streets of Lagos.
This was so because just two months earlier, INEC insulted the sensibilities of all well-meaning indigenes of Anambra: the April 14 election through which it declared Mr Andy Uba the Governor of Anambra State did not hold. That election was another charade of the Obasanjo era as nothing happened in the polling centres. The electoral officers were nowhere to be seen so that voting did not hold in more than half of the polling stations. Where it did hold, up till today, stories are still rife of how ballot boxes were commandeered from courageous electoral officers by men in the uniform of the Nigerian army.
Another event that flawed the election was lack of voter participation. After Obasanjo, a sitting president known for his Mafioso non-tolerance of other political parties informed Nigerians weeks before the election that Anambra State is his farewell gift to Andy Uba his aide, Ndi Anambra simply went into their houses and slept. With that utterance, Ndi Anambra became aware that the results of that election were already written before Obasanjo said the whole of their state was his gift to an Uba man.
Andy Uba and Prof Iwu are known to be very close friends. Those who knew of their closeness were not surprised that the onetime respected Prof of Biochemistry turned out the way he did as Nigeria’s prime electoral officer. Is it not obvious that a man of the Uba surname will know the kind of person that can meet Obasanjo’s needs at INEC?
As Andy Uba approaches the Enugu Appeal Court to declare him Governor-in-waiting, let him remember that Ndi Anambra have not forgotten the dirty allegations of certificate forgery, money laundering and extra marital affairs that followed his campaign trail. The Appeal Court Judges should please bear in mind that this man is simply not the calibre of Governor Anambrarians want.
Lastly, Andy Uba has every right to be annoyed. But if he is a law-abiding citizen of this nation who accords respect to due process and the rule of law, Andy should know that it pays him better to blame his woes on INEC from whence they came. He should sue the national electoral umpire for projecting his honourable person in bad light through a frivolous exercise marred by irregularities. Since Andy Uba has not done this, but has gone on to the courts praying that he be declared the beneficiary of a fraudulent and nugatory exercise, he is only purposefully toying with the integrity of our judiciary.