Another One Bites The Dust In Enugu!

When the Managing Editor of the Independent, Mr.

Akpandem James, informed me in the afternoon of last Friday (January 18,

2008) that the Enugu State Governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime, had just been ordered

to vacate his seat by the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in the Coal City,

I was glad that another solid evidence had emerged to strengthen the position

of many of us who have continued to insist that what former President Olusegun

Obasanjo and his fellow expert and partner in political corruption, Prof

Maurice Iwu, supervised in Nigeria last April was the worst election in human

history.

Of course, we know that Mr. Chime’s case would not be the last in this

determined effort by the judiciary to dismantle the irredeemably corrupt

edifices brazenly erected across the nation by Obasanjo and his equally

murky-minded collaborators in the inappropriately named Peoples Democratic

Party (PDP). Already, the clouds appear to be gathering over Ibadan,

the Oyo State capital, for instance, ahead of

the February ruling in the governorship tussle in the state, as an anxious

nation awaits new surprises from that famous land where self-celebrated masters

of thuggery, violence and electoral corruption now hold sway. In fact, I would

be really surprised if the PDP would be able to retain up to six governorship

seats by the time the Election Tribunals conclude their assignment.

Reading the judgment in Enugu

last week, the Tribunal Chairman, Mr. Justice Samuel Ottah, stated that the

Tribunal was of the view that “instances of non-compliance with the

Electoral Act, which is non-voting by majority of the electorate, goes to the

foundation and [so] it cannot be said that there have been an election. It goes

to the root of the edifice. We have no doubt that majority of the electorate

were denied the right to choose their governor. The governorship election in Enugu State

of 14th and 28th April 2007 is hereby declared a nullity and therefore void.

The election of the first respondent, Mr. Sullivan Chime, is hereby declared

invalid as he was not duly elected and returned.”

As the voice of the Tribunal Chairman reverberated in Enugu that

morning, and around the nation as the day wore on, there is no doubt that most

people may have sadly remembered one misguided young man from Enugu State

called Mr. Frank Nweke, former Information Minister and Obasanjo’s Chief

Megaphone, and may have wondered where he was hiding when the tissue of lies he

had laboured so hard to string together in respect of the elections in Enugu

were being shredded by the Tribunal.

When the charade which the Tribunal has rightly described as

“make-believe or fairy tales” took place in April 2007, former Senate

President, Mr. Ken Nnamani, had against all odds, come out to clearly declare

that there were no elections in Enugu.

And for this effrontery, Nnamani was rewarded with virulent attacks and several

forms of intimidation from the Emperor’s foot soldiers, but the man remained

undaunted. Frank Nweke himself, seeking to please his master who was diligently

overseeing the allocation of votes across the nation from his fortress in Aso Rock,

had loudly insisted that, contrary to Senator Nnamani’s claims, proper

elections, conducted in transparent and orderly manner, took place all over

Enugu, even though some people were ready to bet their last kobo that even

Nweke’s father did note vote in the so called elections.

What the Tribunal has now confirmed is what everyone already knew took

place, and which Senator Nnamani and several other right-thinking people in

Enugu State had at that time declared without equivocation, namely, that some

licensed fellows had merely gathered somewhere and allocated votes to

“approved” candidates, who were later declared “winners’ of elections that

never took place. It was a most unfortunate and very saddening development. In

fact, I am hoping that in the days to come, all those who had contested the

April 14 and 28 elections in Enugu

State would go to court

to seek further interpretations and the full implications of the ruling.

Because, if you ask me, the Tribunal has simply ordered a rerun of all the elections

that took place in Enugu State on those two days, implying also in clear and

unambiguous terms that the “results” which gave President Umar Yar’Adua and all

the lawmakers from Enugu State their “victories” had emerged from phantom

elections.

Mixed reactions have trailed what can be rightly termed Gov Chime’s

“Second Fall.” The “First” occurred a couple of days earlier, on Tuesday,

January 15, 2008, when the Enugu governor slumped and passed

out during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebrations at Michael Okpara

Square, Enugu. It is possible that Chime may have been overwhelmed by fear and

dread of the predictable fate that awaited him four days later at the Tribunal,

causing his strength and courage to fail him.

Well, take heart, brother; you should have known that there was no way

the corrupt electoral edifices erected by Obasanjo and his likeminds could have

survived in today’s Nigeria, where the judiciary is fast rediscovering itself,

and the people gradually developing some sophistication and discrimination in

taste as far as politics and democracy are concerned.

The Tribunal had also ordered the Independent Electoral

Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh governorship elections in Enugu State

within three months. The same order had also earlier been given in respect of

the annulled governorship elections in Adamawa, Kogi and Kebbi States, all now

before the Appeal Tribunal, where Chime and his lawyers would be heading to any

moment from now (if they had not done so already). In fact, many other

electoral “victories” in both State and National Assemblies have equally been

annulled. And many more would be annulled in the days to come.

So, in the face of these ugly developments which have

tarnished Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and its Chairman beyond

redemption, who then would conduct the fresh elections if the Appeal Tribunal

begins to uphold some of the judgments already delivered by the lower courts?

Would it still be the same thoroughly discredited INEC headed by the same

Professor Maurice Iwu which had in April 2007 conducted elections in Nigeria

that have now clearly acquitted itself as, perhaps, the worst in human history?

What would give the other political parties the confidence

that this same INEC would now conduct transparent, free and fair elections,

when Nigerians are yet to see the slightest hint of remorse in its Chairman

over the revolting electoral fraud the Commission unabashedly and flamboyantly

perpetrated in this part of the world just a few months ago? Assuming the other

parties insist that they would not be able to repose any confidence in this

INEC and its unrepentant Chairman, and so would not participate in the fresh

elections it would conduct, would President Umar Yar’Adua hold the nation to

ransom simply because he is afraid of the political cost of sacking just one

man that is held in fierce contempt by most Nigerians and even foreigners? What

would Yar’Adua do about Iwu and INEC? Would he be able to summon the guts to

also dispatch him to Kuru to join his cousin Nuhu Ribadu to rue their

misfortune for agreeing to become willing and eager hands for the prosecution

of Obasanjo’s insidious designs?

Honestly, I don’t envy Yar’Adua. Iwu and his INEC are two

most embarrassing and imposing mountains standing before him, which he has so

far successfully avoided confronting despite widespread sentiments against the

man and the horrible elections he supervised. But as these damning verdicts

continue to emerge from different Election Tribunals across the nation, the

disbandment of the present INEC and the sacking and prosecuting of Prof Iwu for taking the nation

through a very costly stress and the serious doubts over his management

of resources at INEC are assuming lives

of their own and cannot just be easily wished away.

It is possible that as usual, the Servant-Leader is even

unperturbed and merely sleeping through the matter, hoping that like many

horrible things that have happened in Nigeria, it would, somehow,

disappear. But as he would find out very soon, the serious issues Nigerians

have against Iwu and NEC won’t be in a hurry to disappear, because they

represent an affront Nigerians are now ready to confront squarely. Iwu is even

compounding matters and still inflaming passions by his unrepentant attitude

and brazen insistence that the elections he conducted were the best Nigeria ever

had. What a gratuitous insult.

It is strange that

instead of worrying about the horrible corruption charges against their

godfather, the supporters of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani are out there

rejoicing and threatening to deny Chime the PDP ticket if the Appeal Tribunal

upholds last Friday’s judgment that sacked him from office. Sullivan Chime is a

likable person, but Enugu

under his watch is yet to impress me. The only thing I have written about him

since he became Governor is to ask him to pay

the many workers of the state parastatals some of whom are still owed

more than twenty months salaries arrears, a burden he had inherited from

Chimaroke who had installed him in power through the same odious phantom

elections.

The grouse the

Chimaroke group has against Chime is that he has been trying to distance

himself from his predecessor in order not to be horribly tainted by his

polluted legacies, which he benefited from. If Chime would take my advice, let

him run now and pay with fanfare all those workers Chimaroke owed in Enugu, before the Appeal

Tribunal gives him the boot. He should continue to distance himself from

Chimaroke and everything he stood for, even though he had served in Chimaroke’s

cabinet, and was made Governor by the Ebeano political machinery. If eventually

Chimaroke, whose “election” should also be annulled if the full meaning of last

week’s ruling is to be implemented, is able to make the PDP deny him their

ticket, he should join another party and contest in a free and fair election,

which, hopefully, would not be conducted by Maurice Iwu. Indeed, I am yet to

hear of any candidate backed by civil servants who failed in an election. The

Chimaroke baggage is one political liability that would sink rather than make

him float.

But if things were to

be done the way they should in a civilized society, annulling elections and

calling for fresh ones should not be enough. All those who manipulated the

elections should be arrested, prosecuted and dealt with accordingly. That is

the only to institute deterrence in our electoral system.

Written by
Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
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