Of The Ogebe Verdict And Electoral Reforms

by Peter Claver Oparah

So far, I had resisted the raging temptation to comment on the kangaroo adjudication of the Justice Ogebe Presidential Election Tribunal because I know that as the implications of that obviously compromised verdict unfurl, the judges and all those that benefited from that sly judgment will realize the futility of the type of con they wanted to pull on Nigerians that are still smattering from the aftermaths of the April shambolic election. I know that such verdicts rarely outlive the shifty ends they are meant to achieve and the reactions of Nigerians to that concocted judgment bail me out. If a medium as biased and partisan as Radio Nigeria can confess that in its opinion poll, more than 55 per cent of respondents were not favourably disposed to the Ogebe judgment, then I have no fear that the verdict will not outlive the convenient, political and selective interests on which informed it.

As that melodrama of a judgment was enacted, I knew that the judges that elected to append their names to that judicial roguery are about beginning a life race that will certainly not avail them. I knew that the beneficiaries of that acted scenery remain the same fraudulent crooks that were behind the violent rape and the debauchery to which the April elections were treated and so long as the judges were struggling to find reasons to strengthen the stolen commission these vampires had coveted since last April, they (judges) stand perpetually indicted for giving an imprimatur to an electoral fraud that still shocks and awes the entire world on how not to invest an electoral system with Byzantine fraud. That was why Wole Olanipekun (SAN), an otherwise respected attorney cast a pitiable picture when he was wriggling through excuses to explain the clear case of Ogebe who was offered an elevation to the Supreme Court by one of the parties in the presidential election dispute he was presiding over, when he was still in the thick of the case that had high political implications. I know that as Olanipekun stood before a clearly shocked nation to lend his unsolicited explanation, he was convinced, in his heart of hearts, apart from the guilt complex that informed that intervention, that he had chosen the wrong case to handle and even in the afterglow of his pyrrhic victory, he needs to convince a skeptic nation that such jankara judgment was not procured through the most corrupt and compromising manner. Pitiable enough, his case was not helped by the way the judges sought for reasons to reward the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the most monumental electoral heist in human history.

The impending reality is that the judgment pitted itself against raw and hard facts, which is the macabre rape of the people’s mandate in April. It was open and known to all and sundry. It stood out for the impudence and reckless impunity, the mannerless insouciance and untoward audacity that accompanied it. So when some five judges that were allegedly compromised, decided to twist and twain so as to tell the world that such open fraud never happened, they have placed themselves on a dock they would never free themselves from without conviction. Yar’Adua, Iwu, the PDP and of course the five infamous judges that delivered that kangaroo verdict know these facts. Hiding under the rotten banner of legal niceties to shovel down that fraud is neither here nor there because the ends of justice is to strike an interface between legal reasoning and the real, hard and verifiable facts. Taking refuge in that vacuous and unprovable phrase of ‘not proving one’s case beyond all reasonable doubts’ is a convenient precursor to judicial compromise, which will fall flat when confronted with facts. The known fact, which no reasonable person had been able to argue, is that the April 2007 election was a huge charade and casts a huge slur on decency and good electoral conduct. Any legal judgment that attempts to contradict this reality is tainted and cannot stand the test of time. Any legal decision that contests this fact stands the risk of being bought off the counter and this is where the justices that gave that culled verdict and the beneficiaries would discover the futility in finding refuge on the type of collapsible planks Ogebe and co based their verdict.

Since the so-called verdict was delivered, that con artist, Maurice Iwu and his equally besotted propagandists have been dancing themselves silly that they have been vindicated. Even as we don’t know the form of vindication that slanted judgment gave them, Nigerians are utterly confused and many are at a loss to know why this dented purveyor of electoral fraud, this remorseless racketeer and this choice serf should poke his sly fingers to our collective faces. Yar’Adua, whose supporters have talcumed and presented as integrity personified and who, so far, had been reticent to claim the booties of a charred electoral process to the extent that he had admitted the farcical nature of the so-called election that brought him to power, had stepped forward to claim his ‘victory’ as if it was waiting for five judges of questionable integrity to convince him that the rape of April has become legit. Members and supporters of the PDP have rolled out the drums to celebrate a concocted victory that stands out for how it departed from decent conduct of electoral exercises. The dubious fellow that organized and supervised that horrible scandal, Olusegun Obasanjo, true to his wily, duplicitous and fiendish character, has sang his praises. In fact, all that is vile, fraudulent and reprehensible in the country have risen in a unanimous solidarity with a judgment that obviously was deigned to give a legal stamp to open fraud. Nigerians are bewildered that before their very eyes, a detestable charade has been spruced up and made to look resplendent especially with the annoying brazenness with which Iwu and his media handymen celebrate what they call their vindication in the conduct of an exercise the entire world untied in a rare show of detestation to thumb down on. The vulgarity in the entire orgy over the dirty booty is doing enough presently to orientate Nigerians on the very wrong direction that any fraud could be washed up and raised on the totem of vice and avarice to take the hallowed place of virtue. Nigerians are being mobilized by such judicial decisions as the Ogebe verdict to now believe that evil pays and what better demonstration of this fact than that Maurice Iwu, a man who would have warmed the deepest parts of jail is today spitting on all of us and celebrating a verdict that obviously was meant to legalize the asinine and reprehensible fraud he deliberately cooked in Nigeria last April.

But then, why should Yar’Adua who is now clinking glasses of victory continue his present, largely hypocritical, attempt to reform the electoral process? Pray, which electoral process is Yar’Adua reforming when he and his chaperons are already talking of their victory over Nigerians? Who is Yar’Adua deceiving by this pretentious attempt to paper over a monumental fraud that still repulses decent minds? Is it not a huge joke, a macabre charade for Yar’Adua to be pretending to reform the electoral process when the same lackey that was used to carry out this rape is still sitting pretty and hauling insults and invectives over Nigerians that were victims of his shameful conducts? Since Ogebe and co were over-generous to justify the horrible scam of April and seek culprits far from the scene of crime, why should Yar’Adua still pretend that there is anything to reform in an electoral process that stands out for its fraud content but to which he now owes his fraudulent commission? It is contradictory for Yar’Adua to be celebrating his co-called victory and still be talking of electoral reforms. It is doubly contradictory to relish the kind of sparkling endorsement he got from Ogebe and co and still be talking of reforming the electoral process. Listening to the sly judges that delivered that convenient judgment, one would be at a loss to understand why Yar’Adua has not dissolved the so-called electoral reforms panel and hoisted the Iwu rotten porridge as the quintessence of electoral conduct in Nigeria. Yar’Adua, who had grown deaf and dumb on the trenchant demand to sack Iwu, would be implicating himself and the beneficiaries of the electoral fraud of April 2007 and also the sly beneficiaries of the kangaroo verdict of Ogebe et al if he still goes on to talk of reforming the electoral process. Pray, is the same electoral process that delivered the sparkling results Ogebe and company struggled to force through, the same electoral process that Yar’Adua is pretending to reform? It seems someone is deliberately pulling some cheeky wools over our eyes here.

Since Ogebe and co have ruled that we are all mad to think that the job Iwu did in April even merited a mild rebuke and Yar’Adua has applauded, what then is the essence of electoral reforms? Yar’Adua should know that continuing to pretend that there is something to reform in an electoral process whose outcome he is celebrating with so much glee is very contradictory and abhorrently hypocritical. It is either he goes along with the same duplicitous stretch that had made him covet a mandate that was never given him by Nigerians, continue tolerating a character like Iwu, with all his tainting asides or reject the poisoned and rotten chalice handed him by Iwu and affirmed by Ogebe and company. There is no middle way about merging the two clearly contradictory issues that are central to the survival or otherwise of democracy in Nigeria. This is the contradiction that would undo the verdict of Ogebe and company and the danger in sustaining that vacuous judgment is the country would have unwittingly legalized electoral robbery of whatever degree, rewarded perpetrators of such fraud and punished victims of such frauds. The chain effect is only imaginable. This is the reason why the Supreme Court should do well to throw the Ogebe verdict to the very trashcan of filths where it originally belongs and from where it was exhumed. The country is waiting.

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