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Senate in a fix over conflicting Appeal Court judgments on Emodi

By Emmanuel Aziken

Chief Alphonsus Igbeke who obtained a court judgment penultimate Thursday to remove Senator Joy Emodi from the Senate may have perfected a way upstaging legislators from his native Anambra State in the courts.

Before Mrs. Emodi, Igbeke largely hailed as Ubanesse by friends and associates had also orchestrated the removal from the House of Representatives of Chief Ralph Okeke as the representative of Anambra East/West Federal Constituency after the 2003 general elections.

His art may have, however, put the Senate and its leadership in a bind on account of the two contradictory judgments on the 2007 election by the same appellate court.

The Court of Appeal had in February 2009 upheld the election which returned Senator Emodi to the Senate and the same court in the same breadth penultimate Thursday upturned the same election. Anambra it seems is back to the very low depth it once sank to not too long ago under the political godfathers.

How Igbeke who by some accounts in 2003 campaigned on the ticket of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) for the Anambra East/West federal constituency seat transformed into the PDP candidate remains a puzzle to several political pundits.

Following the 2003 elections he emerged in the tribunal to claim to be the candidate of the PDP instead of Okeke and with some enterprising judicial manourvering he obtained the seat.

Having succeeded, the wealthy Ubanesse may have set his eyes on higher grounds with his recent efforts against Senator Emodi.

His effort to also obtain the Anambra North senatorial seat is, however, raising strong resistance from concerned quarters within and outside the constituency.

In lamenting the court judgment obtained by Igbeke Mr. Chike Okeke writing in Vanguard on March 31, 2010 said the attempt to replace Emodi with Igbeke would be a great reversal of the recent effort in cleaning up the politics of the State.

“This is because Dr. Emodi represents the new face of Anambra State –educated, focused and with sincerity of purpose to serve the longsuffering people of that State. The new face of Anambra represents a great departure from the past, the days of the locusts where men of dubious character, 419ners and the illiterate rich fools took the State by the jugular.”

Remarkably, the pronouncement by the Court of Appeal on March 25, 2010 declaring Igbeke of the ANPP as the winner of the election was shocking to many. Not only was the platform on which he won, that is the ANPP described as almost non existent in the State, the judicial somersault was confusing to many people.

The same Court of Appeal had on February 10, 2010 declared Senator Emodi the validly elected Senator from the State.

The court citing the petition of Hon. Jessie Balonwu of the Labour Party had affirmed that the election which returned Mrs. Emodi as winner was valid.

The decision of the same court of appeal to in the same breadth more than one year later to reverse its decision on the election is to say the least puzzling.

Such puzzle was on the mind of the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) during the ministerial screening exercise as he asked the immediate past former Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Kayode

Adetokunbo how the country could be saved from such judicial contradictions.

In its ruling on 10th February, 2009 Justice A. O. Omage who read out the unanimous judgment in the appeal in case No: CA/E/P/EPT/73/2008 had dismissed the claims of the petitioner, Hon. Jessie Balonwu of the Labour Party and upheld the ruling of the Anambra State Election Tribunal that elections took place in the constituency and that the election was won by Senator Emodi.

The Court of Appeal in upholding the election of Senator Emodi had declared that the arguments against the election of Senator Emodi lacked merit and as such deserved to fail.

Justice Mohammed L. Tsamiya in supporting the lead judgment had declared:
“I had a preview of the lead judgment of my learned brother, Omage, JCA, which has been delivered. I agree entirely with his reasoning and conclusion that this appeal lacks merit and deserves to fail. My learned brother has exhaustively dealt with all the relevant issues in the appeal and resolved same. I therefore have nothing more to add.

The appeal is accordingly dismissed.” The third judge, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola similarly associated himself with the ruling as being in order.

However, Justice Ariwoola in the second judgment by the same Court of Appeal, on 25th March, 2010 had declared that Senator Emodi did not win the majority of votes in the election as such contradicting the earlier judgment.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in apparent obedience to the court judgment released the certificate of return to Igbeke last Wednesday.

The release may have now set motion on ground for legal fireworks as both Igbeke and Emodi contest the validity of the two seemingly contradictory judgments.

Igbeke speaking to reporters at the INEC secretariat charged Senator Emodi of seeking to obtain a court judgment to stop his inauguration. Whether Emodi goes that way or not, the Senate authorities are now faced with the challenge of interpreting two court judgments and seeking which to obey.

When a good Senator dies
Senator Tawar Wada the lankily framed legislator from Gombe State who died last Wednesday almost always had a smile even in the midst of some of the most treacherous politicking in the Senate.

His smile and pleasant disposition was not a smokescreen as is the case with some politicians. It was also not for mischief. Rather it was the true expression of a fairly good man encased in the theatrics of the politically absurd.

His seeming clumsiness in the art of political deception cost him the job of Senate spokesman in the Wabara Senate.

As Senate spokesman between 2003 and 2004 when confronted with the truth about some unpleasant development concerning the Senate or its principal officers, Senator Wada would put up a strong face and in the process of attempting to put up a lie would rather turn into an involuntary and disarming smile.

Senator Wada will not only be remembered for his go easy style. He was a truly humble man who did not pretend about his rise from grass to grace.

While sometimes driving himself into the National Assembly complex, the late Senator had been known to take the undistinguished effort of giving lifts to pedestrians at the main gate of the National Assembly.

Maybe because he was once a Police Constable, he didn’t put up with the show of having a Police orderly always around him as a messenger.

His benevolence was legendary in the National Assembly complex. In the period between 2003 and 2007 when he occupied an office on the top floor of the White House building, the late Senator Wada was known to have entertained all manner of Nigerians including folks from outside his constituency.

Many who could not scale the obstacles to meet their Senators often resorted to the open arms of the large hearted Senator Wada.

Maybe because of his largely unusual political tendencies, Senator Wada was largely a loner and was often seen going alone in the corridors of the National Assembly complex. He was especially so in his second term.

But he was not a push over on the floor. Where many Senators were intimidated by the position taken by the presiding officer on an issue, especially dealing with the rules of the Senate, Senator Wada would not be so intimidated.
A lawyer by profession Wada was, also a man of big, big words sometimes sliding into verbosity.

His access to people it is claimed was one of his political strengths according to those who have visited his Gombe South Senatorial district. He was reputed to be firmly on ground a development that may have lured his interest in the 2011 Gombe gubernatorial contest.

Repeated attempts by your correspondent for a formal interview with him did not materialize since the commencement of the second term. Even text messages and phone calls to him were often difficult as he changed numbers very often because of the pressures from society.

Senator Wada became the first Senator in the sixth Senate to pass on to meet his maker.

Remarkably, he is the second Senator from Gombe South to pass on while in office since the advent of the fourth republic.

The first casualty was the memorable Senator Idris Abubakar himself, unarguably in the ranks of the finest legislators ever produced by Nigeria.

Senator Abubakar also a lawyer, died in December 2002 after laying down the points on which President Olusegun Obasanjo could be impeached for his alleged violations of the constitution.

Senator Abubakar was hailed by the then President of the Senate, Senator Chuba Okadigbo as the Cicero of the Senate on account of his unparalleled debating skills, articulation of legislative language and comprehension of Senate rules.
Wada like Idris Abubakar before him was also disposed to people and constituents.

The manifestation of these good characters in these two unusual Senators from Gombe South may have been a blessing to the people of Gombe South, nay Nigeria. But the midstream death trailing them is an unusual curse.

Wada was in the Senate at the beginning of the screening of the ministerial nominees on Monday. The next that was heard of him by many reporters was the news of his death on Wednesday evening. So it shall be for all men and women as we approach our God. Today we are here and there tomorrow we are no more but only remembered by what we have done.

Wada will be remembered well by the several lives he touched through his legislative actions!


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