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Date Published: 11/16/09

Agbaso, Ohakim: As Appeal Court decides By Emmanuel Onwubiko


Appeal Court Abuja division has recently adjourned sine die to deliver judgment in the landmark matter filed by the All Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA] Governorship candidate in the April 2007 election in Imo state Martin Agbaso questioning the constitutional validity of the decision of the Maurice Iwu-led Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] to cancel the original Governorship poll held on April 14 th 2007 which reportedly produced the Appellant in the subsisting appeal as the winner.

Described as one of the most widely travelled and well educated Economists in partisan politics in Nigeria, Agbaso who also enjoys generous mention in one of the World’s most respected online encyclopaedias- Wikipedia, has traversed the entire gamut of the nation’s court system to search for what he believes is justice or rather redress of the perceived injustice done to him by Nigeria’s most notoriously incompetent agency which is anything but independent-the so-called Independent National Electoral Commission headed by a man who successfully messed up the 2007 election from the point of view of series of verdicts turned in across the country by different election tribunals set up to adjudicate some of Nigeria’s most intractable election related litigations in the history of Nigeria.

Ikedi Ohakim, the man whose stay in power in the last two years has been bombarded by series of judicial challenge by at least two other candidates who slugged it out with him at the polls in Imo state in both the controversially cancelled first Governorship poll of April 14 th 2007 and that of April 28 th 2007, has fought tenaciously to dismiss the formidable legal fireworks mounted against him by Agbaso, the last man standing and Ifeanyichukwu Ararume who contested under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] but who incidentally was sabotaged by the national hierarchy of his party under the influence of the then civilian dictator Olusegun Obasanjo who vowed never to allow Ararume contest under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]. To show how mischievous the then national leadership of the people’s democratic party was, the Supreme Court’s judgment which voided the illegal substitution of the name of Ifeanyi Ararume with that of Charles Ugwu, was openly disrespected and undermined by the then President, obasanjo, who masterminded the open declaration by the party that voters should cast their votes in the April 14 th Governorship election to Martin Agabso of the All Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA]. Agbaso reportedly coasted home to electoral victory because of the endorsement of his candidacy by both the Peoples Democratic Party which undermined the chances of her candidate- Ararume, and the massive endorsement of the indisputable Igbo leader Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu who is very popular in the entire Igboland.


Nigerians were however shocked to wake up on April 15 th 2007 to receive the unfortunate news that the incompetent electoral panel had decided to annul the Governorship election which reportedly produced the All Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA] candidate Agbaso, but controversially validated the state house of Assembly election in Imo state which produced the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] as the majority party in the state legislature. Even before Agbaso decided to challenge what he considers as a violation of the electoral law and the constitution by the electoral commission through the action of cancellation of the April 14 th election, Nigerians from all walks of life asked a common question why on earth will the electoral panel cancel one part of the same election and allowed the second part to remain?, Nigerians had asked very germane question of how and why will a doctor for instance, decide to kill one part of the Siamese twins without clinically separating the decomposing body but expects that the other side of the Siamese twins not killed will survive the medical madness. Agbaso proceeded to the Abuja High Court to halt the conduct of another Governorship polls on April 28 th but the Abuja High Court in its wisdom advised the plaintiff, as he then was, to await the result of the April 28 th election so as to have valid ground to challenge it in the election tribunal. The failure of the Abuja High Court to expeditiously provide answer to the questions put before it by Agbaso before the April 28 th election was to say the least preposterous and unhelpful. This tardiness of the Abuja High Court has caused undue delay so much so that Ikedi Ohakim whose stay in power in Imo state is in contention has almost spent the better part of the four year mandate in contest before the Appellate Court. Agbaso proceeded to the election petition tribunal and the election petitions’ Appeal Court to challenge the outcome of the April 28 th election but lost.

Appeal court is to answer the question of the validity of the action of the electoral commission to cancel an already concluded poll on April 14 th 2007 election on the nebulous ground of electoral violence in the laughable estimation of the Maurice Iwu-led INEC while allowing the results of state house of Assembly poll conducted on the same date with identical ballot papers. But Agbaso was confronted by the Governor of Imo state Ikedi Ohakim who has consistently deployed the human and material resources of Imo State to prosecute his legal defence against the matter instituted by a citizen of the same state who ought to enjoy the same rights and privileges as the Governor. It is a fact that since the commencement of the two legal battles against Ikedi Ohakim, the machinery of the state official bar, that is the office of the state Attorney General is usually moved to the venue of such court proceeding to provide background material and human support in favour of Ikedi Ohakim against another Imo citizen- Agbaso. This to me is a clear case of injustice because when one party in a matter confers upon itself an unfair advantage because of their proximity to the seat of power, then the interest of the entire citizens of that state has been undermined because an injustice to one is an injustice to all. Unfortunately, even the traditional rulers have sided with the Governor in this matter. This is laughable. This writer lost a chance to throw up this question because Ikedi Ohakim did not show up at a function organised by the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, a day before the substantive hearing on November 11 th, even though the entire cabinet took up temporary residence at Reiz Continental hotel Abuja, the venue, in readiness for the hearing of the substantive appeal.

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