By TONY EDIKE, Enugu
HUNDREDS of supporters of Dr. Andy Uba, who converged at the Court of Appeal, Enugu, Friday, to hear the verdict on the governorship seat of Anambra State, left with great disappointment.
Dr. Uba was absent in court but his elder brother, Senator Ugochukwu Uba, led his teeming supporters to the court as early as 7.00 a.m. with high expectations. Outside the court premises, armed mobile policemen took positions, blocking both ends of Aguleri Street, Independence Layout, and preventing lawyers and litigants from driving into the court. Journalists, lawyers and supporters of Uba went through security screening, from the adjoining streets to the court. Some persons who had no good reasons coming to the court were turned back.
Majority of Ubaâ€™s supporters, who were conveyed from Anambra State in several commuter buses, were halted by security operatives at the WAEC junction, where they remained throughout the court proceedings which lasted about an hour.
Armed with local musical instruments, the supporters, clad in white t-shirts, waited to get signal of their principalâ€™s victory before rolling out the drums. Unlike the two previous sessions of the court where Ubaâ€™s supporters and members of his campaign organizations exchanged pleasantries for hours within the court premises, it was a completely different scenario, Friday.
The courtroom was quiet as Ubaâ€™s men were eager to hear the five justices of the Appeal Court who took their seats at exactly 9.00 a.m. to deliver their verdict. Chairman of the panel, Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta, delivered the lead judgment in which he dismissed the application by Uba seeking to declare him â€˜governor-in-waitingâ€™ to enable him take over automatically from Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State at the expiration of his term on March 17, 2010.
Ngwuta was emphatic in his ruling when he resolved all the five issues raised by the applicants against him (Uba) and declared that â€œthe governorship seat of Anambra State is not hereditary like a traditional stool.â€
After the reading of the verdict, the mood of the people in the court changed as they whispered to one another, wondering what would be their fate. Some of them were still expectant that the ruling of the remaining four justices could do the magic but it soon dawned on them that their ambition to return to the Government House Awka next year had been dashed.
Justice Jean Omokiri was absent but the summary of his judgment was delivered by one of his colleagues. He endorsed the lead judgment by Ngwuta just as the other three justices namely, Kekere Ekun, Audu Aboki, Paul Galinje, did, dismissing the application but without costs.
As soon as the court rose, Ubaâ€™s associates men including chieftains of the PDP from Anambra State, disappeared from the court room one after the other. They did not wait to speak with newsmen as they had done in the past. They later joined other supporters at the WAEC junction where the disappointing news was broken to them.
They boarded their buses and left quietly. Some lawyers that represented the other parties in the case converged in front of the court discussing the verdict of the court which they hailed as a very bold decision.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prince Orji Nwafor-Orizu, said the verdict did not call for jubilation but that there were two lessons to be learnt from it.
The first is that people should not always rely on speculation as peddled in the instant case, and second, it has cleared the coast for the scheduled Anambra gubernatorial election. He added that the tension that was generated by the case had been laid to rest.