By Emmanuel Ebeleke & Joseph Erunke
Comrade Ubani Daniel is the Director, media, and publicity, Supreme Council of Ukwa Ngwa Youths. In this interview, he bares his mind on the recent judgment that ousted the Governor of Abia state, the implication on running the state, the feelings among the citizens among other issues. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the Abia judgment?
Everything that transpired in what Justice Abang court in Abuja is far from being normal. What happened is rape of justice.
You said the Governor did not pay his taxes, you did not allow the originators of such documents (tax learance) to come and testify. In an issue like this, the onus of proof, whether the document is genuine or not can only lie on the originators of such documents.
You mean the judgment was not based on the right witnesses?
They relied only on documentary evidence. Dr. Ikpeazu has been a state functionary of the state in different capacities in the last nine years.
He functioned for many years as GM, Abia State Integrated Passenger Management and Safety Scheme (ASIPMSS). From there, his next port of call was Deputy General Manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, ASEPA. And all of us are very much conversant with relevant tax laws.
A system that subjects the emolument of a worker to statutory deductions before such emoluments are paid to him. So, deductions are made at source. Are you telling me that Ikpeazu was an exception?, just like every other state worker.
All he said he did was to apply for the tax clearance, and now, the documents are issued from source, and the authors have come out to the public domain to say that this document is from source, whether it was issued on Sunday or Saturday is immaterial.
Do you have proof?
It is there in the public arena. He is not even denying it. In the case of Barr. F.M Nwosu against Governor Ikpeazu, the trial judge, said it, that in the eye of the law, Ogar did not participate in the primaries for having staged a walk out, for having not signed or endorsed the result sheet.
Now, a system you said did not exist, how can you turn and say you want to reap from the same system. You cannot speak from both sides of the mouth at the same time.
The first runner up is Barr. F.M Nwosu. He was the first person that went to court and the trial judge in a federal high court Owerri, having taken an exhaustive and detailed analysis of the whole thing, proclaimed that Ikpeazu remained eminently qualified, that there was no irregularity with his tax documents.
The two dangers the present democratic experiment faces if from the judiciary at the lower level and INEC as an institution. INEC has been inefficient and ineffective in doing anything. If not for the political maturity of political gladiators at the apex of the political system, INEC would have plunged this nation into avoidable crisis.
This is a public institution that has never concluded any single election successfully. Now, it surprises every rational thinker, the lightening speed with which INEC acted in this matter.
Judgment was given on 14th of July certificate of return that was issued to Ogar was issued that same day. Which means, the certificate had already been prepared waiting for the judgment?
You needed to see the body language of Nwauruku, the INEC Commissioner in Abia state, how he was dancing while issuing that certificate of return. He cannot be said to be without interest. We are making a clarion call that Nwauruku should be investigated. There are more to issuance of this certificate of return than meets the ordinary eye.
Do you think the party in power does not have a hand in this?
We have no evidence of such. There is no room to believe that for now. If you say so, how do you explain the security apparatus assigned to Ogar?
We have repeatedly called for an inquiry into the processes and means, through which Ogar employs the state apparatus of coercion. Here is a private citizen, like you and I, parading with gun wielding fierce looking battalion of armed men, capable of running out a sitting Governor.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that the same thing played out in Anambra State during Uba and Ngige saga, and it was through the same manipulation of the state security that a sitting Governor was abducted from his office.
Are you surprised that this is happening under a regime that is fighting corruption?
President Buhari is just an individual. Certain offices are manned by other individuals who may not have bought into his anti-corruption stance in the same measure and manner; he has it.
Our agitation is that the right thing should be done.
What is the right thing?
The right thing to be done is that we have elected a Governor, they should stop distracting him. Let him render to us the services he has been elected to do and that is good governance.
INEC as far as this issue is concerned is an abysmal failure. Are we new in this country? Tell me where INEC has demonstrated that kind of accuracy, precision, and lightening speed. Judgment was given on the 14th before the ruling could be transmitted to INEC, INEC had already prepared a certification of return for Uche Ogar.