By Aiyevbekpen Osakue
EDO Governorship Petition Tribunal sat for some 180 days in Benin City, most of which were committed to the monotonous routine of looking at whether the voters register was ticked to the right or to the left. On good Friday April 14, 2017, the Tribunal delivered judgment that sparked wild jubilation across the State. The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Ahmed Badamosi, in an extraordinary display of excellent judicial reflexes, perspicacity and erudition, delivered an exhautively well researched judgement, in which the testimony of every single witness was examined and classified and every single legal argument was subjected to the acid test on points of law in the best tradition of judicial practice.
Those who painstakingly followed the Tribunal’s proceedings would readily agree that the decision of the Tribunal was consistent with the flow and perception of the case from the onset. The case underscored the point that politicians should eschew frivolous and fabricated petitions as the burden of proof of allegations lie squarely on the petitioners. Put differently, the judiciary cannot be likened to ‘Mama Akara’ who is in the business of either selling or giving akara way as gift!
Edo State Makarfi led PDP and their factional candidate, Pastor Osagie Andrew Ize -Iyamu expectedly rejected the Tribunal’s verdict even before delivery. And against the wise counsel of one of the most reverred traditional monarchies in the Southern part of Nigeria proceeded to the Appeal Court praying for a review of the Tribunal’s judgment on forty one unwieldy and laughable grounds. During an interview session before the Tribunal judgment, the PDP and its candidate had expressed full confidence in the capacity of the Tribunal to do justice to the case. But as soon as the judgment failed the bent of their hollow calculations, their writers and spin doctors went to town to unleash venoms and invectives on the eminent and erudite judges for daring to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
The spleen of the PDP cannot take anything away from the impeccable, unblemished and exemplary track record of service of their Lordships. It is brazenly iconoclastic and pointless to target the personality of the judges for derogation with insinuations and innuendos. When a man goes for the jugular of honest judicial paladins who by the nature and tradition of their noble profesion cannot publicly defend their action, he seeks to shackle the course of justice and unleash hell on the society!
After investing huge resources seeking to bring the judicial system to public odium and ridicule through severe and unwarranted castigation, it is ironic that the PDP still unapologetically rely on the same judiciary to review the case on appeal. The PDP leadership are too bumptious to realise that the present judiciary has reinvented itself and nobody has the capacity to sway or dictate the outcome of cases before the Tribunals or the Courts.
The weight of evidence in a case, which must always tilt to one side remain the basis for declarations by judicial officers and cannot be otherwise! Indeed, no matter how stern, uncompromising and erudite the Appeal Court judges may be, they cannot deliver judgement inconsistent with the weight of evidence before it. And that means, only one party can win a case at a time! The desperation of the PDP has no place in the dispensation of justice. Good a thing the hallowed chambers of justice are not where the PDP minds sit in judgment! The temple of justice are reserved for trained men and women of honour who are sworn to uphold the law and dispense justice to all parties without fear or favour!
The unsparing attacks on the Tribunal judgment is viewed by many as the most disingenious strategy to pressurise and intimidate the Appeal Court to pander to their wild imaginations. It simply does not work that way! Let the PDP punctiliously take a closer look at the judgment of the Tribunal without partisan sentiments. They will realise that the Tribunal labouriously, thoroughly, and painstakingly analysed all the issues formulated for determination and matched them with what the petitioners tendered as evidence.
At the end, one was left with a worthless piece of paper called a petition! If the petitioners had a modicum of regard for democratic values and ethos, they should not have filed a petition only to go down in search of legal straws to hang on to! That means, the cacohponous move to the appelate court amounts to a dance with decomposing carcass! This particular carcass is certainly not worth embalming!
The search for gubernatorial power by the petititioner has a long history but he has become inexcusably desperate! Pastor Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu was powerful and ubiquitous under former Governor Igbenedion’s government. With the support of the Governor, he set up a political pressure group called the Grace Group in 2006. First, the Grace Group was largely the government faction of the crisis ridden PDP during much of the second term of Governor Igbinedion. Second, the Grace Group was propelled by the desire to sustain the hegemony of Igbinedion political family where the main petitioner was generally regarded as the political heir apparent. For more than a decade, that is between 2005 – 2016, Pastor Ize-Iyamu maintained a political structure at great cost to facilitate his gubernatorial ambition.
He had thought that hedged by his political structure and his campaign management experience, he would humble any opposition at any election. But that presumption was baseless and the September 28, 2016 election confirmed this. His self attribution of strategic keys for electoral success, his sense of entitlement to the office of Governor and the stupendous resources committed to the project in the last decade seemed to have paved way for desperation!
But more significantly, when our political paths crossed some years ago, he shared an anecdote with me. Specifically, in 2004, within the comfort of his former place of residence in Etete neighborhood, he recounted the abandonment, loneliness and frustration that suddenly became the lot of ex-governor Lucky Igbinedion when he lost his first governorship election to Chief John Odigie Oyegun in 1993.
He named only a handful of true friends who remained with him after only Twenty-Four hours of announcement of result! That fearful experience remained glued to his heart! And as a politician with an eye on the next election, Pastor Ize-Iyamu was scared stiff of travelling on that same lonely and lugubrious road reserved for only losers.
He probably swore to himself never to accept loss of any election! Thus, from the smokey confusion, a grand subterfuge emerged out of the fertile demonic imaginations of hired propagandists around him.
Mr. Osakue, a political strategist, wrote from Benin city, Edo State.