Monday, May 16, 2022

Andy Uba, the Courts and Cyber Bullying


Obi Trice Emeka

Somehow, many wrongly think that an election process ends at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s collation centres, where results are announced. Far from it, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court as the case might be, are the final closure for most electoral process. The courts act as the video assisted referring-VAR, as used in football, scrutinising and ensuring that all the laws and guidelines set for any election is strictly adhered to. Wherever the VAR of the law picks up any infringement, the Courts intervene to ensure that restitution is provided, where necessary.

Many, however, who do not understand this process embedded into our laws to ensure that no one is cheated during any electoral process, tend to raise false alarms and make ignorant innuendos when the long arm of the law discovers an electoral infringement and orders a restitution.

With respect to Anambra state, no party has been as lucky with the courts with respect to electoral matters as the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. In 2003, INEC had declared Sen. Chris Ngige as winner of the Anambra Gubernatorial election. But Peter Obi and APGA approached the courts, claiming an infringement. The Tribunal, which heard the matter agreed with them and in a landmark judgement that altered the election process in Nigeria, enabling the staggered election process we now have, removed Ngige as the Governor, handing over the seat to Mr. Peter Obi.

In 2015, Victor Umeh, the red cap wearing former National Chairman of APGA contested to represent Anambra Central at the senate. He was running against the mercurial Uche Ekwunife.

She had trounced him in the 7 local government areas of Anambra Central, with Umeh winning no local government.

Curiously, Umeh approached the court questioning the processes of the PDP primaries – an action the electoral act gave him no powers to. In a rather bemusing but weird judgement, the Court of Appeal agreed with him and stripped Ekwunife of the ticket.

Dozie Nwankwo of APGA, who currently represents Dunukofia, Njikoka and Anaocha at the House of Representatives has also never won any election at the polls. All his victories have come via judicial processes.

It is, therefore, rather bemusing that a political party which has benefitted enormously from the the Courts would be hell-bent on stopping Sen. Andy Uba from approaching the court to seek validation of the 2021 Anambra Gubernatorial Election by sponsoring a retinue of invectives in newspapers and blogs ably led by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment who draws his salary from tax payers.

It smacks of high voltage hypocrisy to indulge one to abandon using a process you have variously utilised to access justice for ages, just because you’re scared of the likely outcome.

Sen. Andy Uba has never declared that he must govern Anambra by every means possible. All he seeks is to subject himself to the tenets of democracy.

As he toured the local governments in search of the support of Ndi Anambra, he kept insisting that a free and fair election be carried out.

He has no such intention as to abuse our not-too-nascent democracy but to deepen it.
In his own words: “I won an election in 2007 and was sworn in. After 17 days I was removed by the court on an issue that had no connection with the 2007 election. I didn’t die. I have seen worse things and losing an election isn’t an extraordinary thing.”

Sen. Andy Uba’s desire to approach the courts isn’t borne out of any desire to govern Anambra by any means possible, but for the interest of our democracy and to deepen the electoral process.

Let’s face it, the BVAS system used during the last Anambra state Gubernatorial election was distasteful as it disenfranchised more voters than it permitted to vote.

In 2015, it took the intervention of the Supreme Court in Nyesom Wike v Dakuku Peterside in a judgment read by his Lordship Tanko Muhammad, the present Chief Justice of Nigeria, for INEC to trigger the process of reforms that made the use of the voter’s card more efficient.

Sen. Andy Uba’s right to approach the courts is inalienable and no one should bully him away from exercising his constitutional rights – unless such persons oppose the growth of our democracy.

Sen. Andy Uba, if he finally decides to approach the court, will only help deepen our electoral process and ensure that unnecessary bottlenecks clogging the process is removed using the Anambra experience, so as to ensure for the next state, an efficient electoral process.

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