By Victor Oshioke
READING through Of godfathers and judicial pronouncement by one Efosa Ugiagbe, published on page 18 of the Vanguard newspaper on Monday, May 8, 2017, I am disturbed by the level of blatant falsehood, maliciously concocted statements material that certain individuals can smuggle into the opinion columns of media entities for public consumption.
On April 14, 2017, the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Benin City, after about three months of painstaking hearing delivered its judgement in the petition filed by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the PDP candidate in the September 28, 2016 governorship election in Edo State, against the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the winner of the election and duly elected governor of Edo State to succeed Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
A few minutes after the judgement which as expected was witnessed by high ranking members of both the ruling APC and opposition PDP in Edo state, a group of reporters swarmed around the immediate past Governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and sought his reaction to the tribunal’s final ruling, which was favourable to his party and candidate Godwin Obaseki.
Obliging their request, Comrade Oshiomhole made the following remarks thus:“I think the electoral act should be amended, such that if you bring a frivolous petition as this to court and didn’t make sufficient effort to show that you had reasons to believe you were cheated, which means you just did it out of fun, the judicial system should provide for sufficient cost against the applicants for trying to abuse the court processes.
Listening to the judgement, you’d notice that this petition was just like Mama Alakara looking for trouble. But this is at huge cost both in terms of time, psychology and distracting the electorate. In other jurisdictions, when you go to court on a non-issue as this, you pay the cost of litigation and that serves as a deterrent. However, I know that in this case, our people will never vote PDP and they never voted PDP although the PDP thought they could smuggle themselves back into power through the court.
I have always said that people can say whatever they want to say about the judiciary but to the extent that I have been involved while in the labour unions and in politics, the judiciary has shown that they have men and women of impeccable character, of courage, and good knowledge of the law. On our part, we have very resourceful counsels, who have what it takes to put the case where it belongs because by and large, this was just a petition filed by busybodies, but thank God that justice has been done.”
It is pertinent to note that these remarks by Comrade Oshiomhole were adequately captured on both audio and video recordings by many of the reporters present and they accurately reported it in their various news bulletins.
However, the Edo State PDP leadership, desperate to change the narrative from the embarrassing defeat they received through the judgement, and intent on shifting the blame of their defeat from the obvious fact that their petition had no merit in law, connived with a certain reporter to caption the impromptu remarks made by Comrade Oshiomhole inaccurately.
This malicious conspiracy ignited a social media campaign of falsehood orchestrated by Edo PDP leadership even on a few mainstream media organisations owned by their sympathisers that Comrade Oshiomhole referred to the tribunal judgement as a “Mama Akara Judgement”
In the immediate aftermath of this deliberate misrepresentations by the Edo PDP and their cohorts, the Edo State APC Chairman, Barr. Anselm Ojezua, and the media office of Comrade Oshiomhole came out with separate press releases to refute the falsified statement and set the records straight on what Comrade Oshiomhole actually said. Since then, the issue was naturally laid to rest as it became obvious to all concerned that Comrade Oshiomhole at no time referred to the judgement of the tribunal as a “Mama Akara Judgement”
It is in this context that Mr. Ugiagbe’s recent article can rightly be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to slander Comrade Oshiomhole, even after the repeated clarifications about the true statements that can justifiably be attributed to the ex governor. It is therefore hoped that when called upon at any time to show the basis of his allegations, Mr. Ugiabge will be prepared to produce audio and video evidence that will oppugn our own evidence of Comrade Oshiomhole’s remarks with particular reference to his use of the “Mama Alakara” analogy.
There is no pretentious claim to creativity more deceptive than a writer who puts pen to paper or sit in front of his computer to write an article for public consumption, relying exclusively on unverified third party account of an incident. It is an inexcusable act of intellectual laziness in this age, and a bizarre exercise in rumour peddling for someone who lays claim to any form of understanding in objective critical analysis to ascribe, malign and defame another person, without any verifiable evidence to support the basis upon which those acts could be defended.
If Mr. Ugiagbe has any knowledge of jurisprudence and how the Nigerian judiciary strives to protect its credibility, he should be aware by now that his concluding rhetorical question “Will the superior court be delivering a Mama Akara judgement, the like that obviously satisfies the appetite of a boastful former governor?” is prejudicial to the appeal already filed by the PDP candidate against the judgement of the election petition tribunal. I will therefore be surprised if at the start of hearing on the appeal. Mr. Ugiagbe is not issued a subpoena to appear in court and justify the doubts he has raised with his article on a presumed outcome of an appeal even before sitting begins.
In the meantime, Mr. Efosa Ugiagbe has a choice to walk the path of honor by actually interrogating those reporters who were witnesses to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s remarks on the Edo State Governorship election petition tribunal judgement, delivered on Friday, April 14, 2017. His findings, if indeed he is predisposed to seeking the truth, may ultimately convince him that the PDP leadership in Edo State, has no credible strategy for playing opposition politics other than merchandizing falsehood and generating rumors for beer parlor delight.
Personal Assistant/ Media Aide
To Comrade Adams Oshiomhole