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Anambra: Appeal Court Panel is constitutional

By  Eustace Ejikeme

Anambra State has once again taken the front burner of political developments in the country.  With its governorship election slated early next year, the tension in the state is therefore understandable.

The recent primaries by political parties jostling for the seat in the state contributed to the tension with its attendant violence and abduction of people for ransom or political exigencies.

However, one issue that has refused to be buried is Chief Andy Uba’s quest for a clearer interpretation of the consequences of the 2007 Anambra governorship election, which he was declared winner, but later voided by the courts.  A Supreme Court judgment had early in Uba’s tenure returned the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi whose tenure would expire by March 17, 2010.

Uba had accepted the verdict of the apex court, but pressed on for the apex court to reverse itself.  Although the Supreme Court could not do that, the former presidential aide continued the search for a fulfilling judgment.  He rather went back to the Appeal Court in Enugu to seek redress.

The Anambra situation brings us face to face with likely scenarios of that Appeal Court action instituted by Uba.  What if he wins the appeal?  What if he loses the appeal?  What if the Appeal Court refers the matter to another court for further adjudication?

These questions, expectations and speculations have indeed galvanized a groundswell of opinions over the matter.  This compels one to refer to the article by Mr. Simon Kolawale on the back page of Thisday Newspaper of November 1, 2009.  The piece entitled: “Constitution on Trial at Appeal Court ” leaves one in a dilemma over what Nigerians really want in a democracy.

Kolawale never liked that Uba is at the courts seeking judicial interpretation of the consequences of an election he won in 2007 but voided by the courts few weeks later.  It is obvious that the writer’s only assignment was to make mockery of Uba’s peaceful pursuit of a matter he feels should be redressed through constitutional means.  But an amazing aspect of Kolawale’s rhetoric discourse is his effrontery to speculate the outcome of an Appeal Court verdict in such a reckless way.

If he is telling the world that he is so passionate about protecting the sanctity of the constitution, did it not occur to him that he was holding the constitution and the court in contempt by insinuating that Uba has influenced the awaited Appeal Court judgment?  Did he not feel more Catholic than the Pope when he even said that the verdict would be a “parting gift” by a top shot of the concerned court to Uba.  He even descended so low by predicting that the Appeal Court panel would split 3-2 in favour of Uba.

Kolawale may not be a lawyer, yet he did not hide his ignorance by consciously suggesting that Uba’s move to reclaim his mandate through the courts is condemnable.  Has Kolawale forgotten that Mr. Peter Obi was returned as governor through judicial pursuits?  So it was not illegitimate or unconstitutional for Obi to do so then?

Mr. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and some other governors today won back their mandates through judicial processes.  So why is Kolawale disturbed and jittery that Uba has continued to express faith in the judiciary?  Kolawale may not like Uba, but that should not degenerate to such a desperate posture to thwart a legitimate process or to speculate a judicial matter in such contemptible manner.   There must be something Kolawale is seeing that he does not want the rest of us to see.  Why does he appear so bent to stop Uba from pursuing a matter in peace or casting aspersion to courts?

It is therefore the prerogative of the courts to determine whether Uba’s pleas should be granted or not.  If Uba wins today, it will indeed underscore the merit behind the calls for the judiciary to nurture this ten-year old democratic dispensation without fear or favour.  If he loses the appeal, it is still the same process of fortifying our democratic structures through peaceful mediums like the judiciary.

Uba may not be liked by some people, but one shinning aspect of his quest to have his election re-validated is his peaceful recourse and faith in the judiciary.  Kolawale and his likes should therefore stop sensationalism and sentimentalism in their postulations if democracy should be enthroned in the nation.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) whom he is inciting against the Appeal Court panel knows more than ordinary laymen that the law is proficiently hinged on technicalities than on sentiments.


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