The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, is a happy man of late. This happiness of body and soul is not without any cogent reason. The Supreme Court in Nigeria had validated his election as the legitimate Governor of his oil-rich state. The judgement also affected Akwa Ibom and Abia states whose incumbent Governors were also given the nod to continue presiding over the affairs of their various states.
The verdict of the Supreme Court in the guber litigations spanning months was of course a controversial one and it has elicited so much condemnations and recriminations by political forces at play. This intervention must be seen as one by a concerned non-partisan Nigerian. I do not belong to any political party since I am far away from home even though I have some sympathy for the ruling party, the APC.
Governor Wike, few weeks back, had attended a thanksgiving church service in Port Harcourt to apparently celebrate his ‘victory’. There, he sounded like a conqueror who had just come out of a grueling war with a victory to flaunt! He made some confessions in his victorious speech in the church: that his blood pressure had come down to normal after rising steeply during the battle for the PH Government House.
He claimed that tension has changed camps, wishing and praying God to ‘inflict’ high blood pressure on his opponents and enemies alike. Again, waxing philosophical this time, he had described his dilemma as the guber litigation lasted revealing that he had made up his mind never to recontest in the event of the verdict going against him and necessitating a re-run.
Continuing, the former Education Minister declared, perhaps power-drunk, that his administration would not be participating in or co-operating with the federal government in the popular war against corruption, dismissing the endeavour as a witch-hunt and vendetta against the PDP opposition to which he belongs. But we do not need the support of the Wikes of this world to be able to prosecute the nation-wide drive against economic crimes and criminals since they know themselves as executive culprits against whom such campaign is meant to imprison or dissuade.
Wike made the mother of all confessions however when he stated, perhaps carried away by the stunning triumph, that the former Governor of the state, Peter Odili, had played a crucial role in the shocking supreme outcome from Abuja. He described how Odili, notorious for his judicial perversion, would call in the middle of the night telling him where to go, who to meet and how to fix their supreme gubernatorial headache!
He was full of gratitude for the ex-Governor who had obtained a perpetual injunction preventing the EFCC or any prosecuting agency from ever arresting him or charging him to court in many cases of malfeasance during his 8-year ‘dictatorial’ reign as Rivers helmsman. Odili’s wife is a Justice so no one is surprised by his capacity to outwit the agencies charged with the responsibility of bringing him to book.
Nyesom Wike is a proud, haughty and mean man whose past and present are soaked in odious corruption of unimaginable magnitude. In every position of trust he has held he has had a way of coming out richer through scandalous betrayal of trust. In the Education Ministry as Minister he achieved nothing other than devising smart ways of corruptibly enriching himself and his cronies and covering up the tracks. A trash-talker who loves power and wields same vindictively he had benefitted heftily from the GEJ presidential pestilence that Patience Jonathan personally chose him to rule over her state of Rivers against all odds!
Former Governors Odili, Godswill Akpabio and Theodore Orji must have played insidious roles in the supreme deception we have been served recently as final arbitration. While Odili’s stewardship as governor of Rivers state exposed his kleptocratic character Akpabio’s was worse in Akwa Ibom state! Orji and his son and wife simply made life better for themselves by looting the treasury with impunity. Today their anointed men, rigged to power by the PDP rigging machinery, still represent their interests. So Wike, Udom Emmanuel and Okezie Ikpeazu must be eternally grateful to their godfathers for making the impossible happen!
Recently in Port Harcourt a decampee former member of Rivers State House of Assembly, Monday Eleanya, was gruesomely murdered as he drove off from his home. Prior to that horrible incident he had decamped from the PDP to the APC. With hundreds of people killed before, during and after the violent guber poll in the state the rivers of blood flowing in Rivers state bear the hallmarks of a perilous democracy. It must be nipped in the bud! Wike and his army of armed militants terrorising the state must be disarmed and demobilized.
It was a bemused Prof. Wole Soyinka who had described the Wike administration as “Wikeleaks” as the Governor and his aides sought desperately to demean and disparage the reputation of the Nobel laureate in the eyes of his global constituency through misguided public statements. That was in the height of accusations of corruption involving the Amaechi administration and the birthday bash it had thrown for Soyinka in Port Harcourt.
‘Wikeleaks’ had gone to town with allegations of squandered millions questioning the propriety behind such profligacy. The deliberate attempt to malign ‘Kongi’ failed even though he had enough reason to ‘defend’ himself in the public opinion via a statement to that effect.
Julian Assange of the ‘Wikileaks’ fame has found a local partner in Nyesom Wike. But the difference lies in the present conditions of both men: While Wike is resident in Government House in PH enjoying a clearly purloined mandate Assange is still holed up (for many years now) in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as a fugitive! He is wanted by the Swedish justice system for rape!
Though he has denied ever raping anyone he prefer living like a glorified prisoner in a London foreign embassy than getting out and being arrested by the eagle-eyed British police and extradited to face his accusers. He fears that any extradition to Sweden would ultimately lead to his eventual extradition back to the US to face charges of divulging state secrets via Wikileaks.
There is something dangerously dreadful about the Supreme Court ruling invalidating the rulings of the Tribunal and Appeal Court in the guber electoral litigations involving the three aforementioned states. Something is abominably wrong with the controversial verdict! It has been proven beyond every reasonable doubt in the lower courts that what took place in those states was nothing but organized electoral brigandage. It boggles the mind, therefore, how on earth the Justices of the apex court could have thought otherwise advancing some illogical technicalities.
The judgement to many Nigerians amounted to judicial suicide, a great disservice to democracy in our land. Wittingly, it encourages electoral fraud and reinforces the condition of impunity pervading the electoral landscape. But above all, it seeks to punish the victim and exonerate the culprit in a bizzare manner only obtainable in Nigeria. No one should pretend that justice is not being sold and purchased in Nigeria by those having the money and the connection. Where this leaves the common man is left to the hopeless imagination!
The judiciary in Nigeria must be reformed to meet the general expectation of Nigerians. In Ghana recently the President had to sack some Justices found guilty of graft (thereby mortgaging justice) in a celebrated high-profile judicial scandal. The judicial mess in Nigeria is worse than that of Ghana yet no sanction has ever been visited upon that tier of government. The Buhari administration must overhaul the judicial system and make it more compatible with the transparent system of the present dispensation.
SOC Okenwa, email@example.com
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