By Anayo Okoli, Chinoso Alozie, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Peter Okutu
Last week Supreme Court judgment which sacked Emeka Ihedioha of PDP as governor and replaced him with Hope Uzodinma of APC rattled not only the people of Imo State but the South East, especially members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and many others who have rejected the judgment.
As expected, the Court decision sparked off huge protest mainly by PDP members and their supporters, demanding that the decision be reversed.
In Imo State, thousands of women clad in black attire storm the streets of Owerri, the State capital, demanding the reversal of the judgment which they described as a rape on democracy.
Also, leaders and members of the PDP, members in the state staged protests, demanding the reinstatement of Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor as they regarded the Supreme Court judgment as a great injustice to the people of Imo State and a slap on democracy.
Among the chieftains of the party that led the demonstration were Emeka Ihedioha’s Chief of Staff, Chris Okewulonu; commissioner for Public Utilities, Chuma Nnaji; and PDP state woman leader, Maria Ude.
In Abia State, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party also embarked on protest asking the Supreme Court to reverse its January 14, 2020 judgment which sacked Gov. Emeka Ihedioha from office and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma, as the elected governor of Imo state.
The party described the judgment as an attempt to destroy democracy, stressing that it believes that the Supreme Court can reverse the erroneous verdict for the sake of posterity.
Chairman of Abia PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, who stated this while addressing PDP faithful during a protest march over the judgment, in Umuahia, explained that the PDP national office had mandated state chapters of the party to organize demonstrations to register their disgust at the pronouncement of the apex court.
The party faithful who marched through Ikot Ekpene, School and Bende roads to the PDP secretariat at St. Finbarrs road, also displayed placards which read; “We cherish democracy passionately, judiciary, please don’t truncate it”; Can a government that doesn’t obey the rule of law allow justice to thrive?”; “Judiciary, stop being cowed by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; “President Buhari, leave judiciary alone”, amongst others.
He said despite the unfavourable ruling, the party still has faith in the court and urged the apex court to reverse the judgment.
In his words, “We are not pleading, but demanding that justice must be done, injustice to one is an injustice to all. It is not about Imo but our democracy.”
An Igbo group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, condemned and rejected the judgment it as “a mindless assault on Democracy and Rule of Law which is its foundation”.
Rising from a meeting of its Working Committee, weekend, Alaigbo Development Foundation said it arrived at its decision because it followed the 2019 governorship and other elections held in Imo State and the two subsequent rulings of the Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal on the result of Governorship Election in Imo State in addition to a painstaking study and report of its Legal Bureau, all of which are at variance with the decision of the court.
In a statement by the leadership, including Prof Uzodinma Nwala, the President, Prof Nath Aniekwu, the secretary, Bishop Obi Udezue Onubogu, BoT Chairman and Hon. Abia Onyike, the publicity secretary, ADF further described the Supreme Court judgment as “an arrogant assault on the fundamental right of Imo people to decide those to whom they give their mandate to preside over their political affairs for the next four years”.
“ADF position is based on a number of factors surrounding the judgment, among which is the technical and substantive impossibility of a candidate who came fourth in the election with just only 96,45 votes to overtake every other candidate to defeat the number one candidate who scored 273, 404votes. And this is a candidate whose Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) did not win any seat in the State House of Assembly Election held simultaneously with the Governorship in the 2019 General Election.
“What is more, the manner in which the Justice Tanko-led Supreme Court judges did their on- the-sport calculations and came to their conclusion is so bizarre that one wonders whether this is happening in normal human society or in Alice’s Wonderland.
“The Justice Tanko-led Supreme Court appears to be desperately keeping faith with the grand design for which Justice Tanko was brazenly fostered on the Nigerian Judiciary after Justice Onnoghen was hounded out of office.
“Our people in Imo State and the entire Igbo nation should regard the removal of the legitimately elected Governor of Imo State as a great assault on the Regional solidarity of Alaigbo, especially now that Regional cohesion is vital to the defence and security of Alaigbo from the invaders.
“To our brother, Senator Hope Uzodinma, the beneficiary of the Supreme Court Ruling which we, in ADF reject, we say to you that you should remember that Igbo blood is in your veins.”
In Abakiliki, the Ebonyi State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party PDP, during a protest against the judgment, gave the Supreme Court of Nigeria 24 hours to reverse Imo judgment.
The protest, which commenced from the state party Secretariat, terminated at the Federal High Court where the Chairman of the Party, Onyekachi Nwebonyi and Southeast Zonal Vice Chairman, Austin Umahi addressed the party faithful.
Clad in all-black attire, they carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “NJC must act now; Imo Guber case: Supreme Court must revisit judgement; Ihedioha must return as Imo State governor; Save Democracy in Nigeria; Judiciary is now the lost hope of the common man”, among others.
According to the party chairman: “It is very unfortunate that our democracy has been murdered; it is very unfortunate that under the watch of the judiciary, our democracy is murdered. Our understanding is that judiciary is the last hope of the common man, but today it is the lost hope of the common man”.
Also speaking, Austin Umahi, the party’s zonal chairman called on the National Judicial Council, NJC to intervene in the ruling of the Supreme Court.
“For how long shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? And the Bible says God forbid. We want and we are saying it very categorical that the judgment of the Supreme Court is a perverted judgment and must be reversed immediately, for the oneness of this nation and for the furtherance of democracy. They should reverse and reinstate the man that was elected by the Imolites and he is the RT. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and not a man that was imported through the back door and imposed on the people of Imo State.
“That judgment cannot stand. We are here as lovers of democracy. Judiciary, I want to pass information to you, it could be one person today, tomorrow; it could be your turn if you don’t resist this abnormality. If you don’t resist this abomination, and if you don’t resist this imperfection, one day, it will be your turn.”