I was amused by a write-up with the above title on page 19 of SUNDAY PUNCH of December 7, 2008 written by Mr. Gbenga Gbadesire. It is not improbable that ‘Gbenga Gbadesire‘ may well be a nom de plume for Mr. Kolawole Olabisi of the Labour Party in Ondo. Now, the issues raised by Gbadesire:
(1) That Ondo was the only state whose election result was declared in Abuja by INEC. This is far from the truth. Whatever internal politics within INEC played itself out should be consigned to the dustbin of history. However, residents of Ondo State saw on prime time radio and television how the erstwhile INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ondo State, Barr. E. Nwanzuronye, declared Dr. Olusegun Agagu the winner of the gubernatorial election of April 14, 2007.
(2) That the Deputy Governor of Ondo State ”was caught carting away ballot boxes.” This lie could only have come from a mind that is destitute of simple reasoning and logic. Even a councillor would not risk going about carting ballot boxes when he could do so conveniently, if he had to, through thugs and miscreants who would gleefully do it for a pittance? Were Gbadesire a witness of truth, he would have known that most reputable newspapers, which had earlier been misled by Labour Party‘s”tale by the moonlight” had since retracted the story and published an unreserved apology to the Deputy Governor. At least, I read the retraction and apology of The Nation.
(3) The Deji of Akure‘s plea with SREC: Truth is that the Deji of Akure, the Osemawe of Ondo and the Owa of Idanre went to plead with the SREC to declare the authentic result reflecting the choice of the electorate. Being satisfied that the polls favoured Dr. Agagu, the Deji of Akure was one of the first callers at the Government House to congratulate Dr. Agagu on his well-deserved victory.
(4) That ”strangers” like V-P Goodluck Jonathan, CBN‘s Charles Soludo, Mike Tyson, etc. voted in Ondo State. This is another tissue of lies without any probative value. If this were true, the Election Tribunal in its 606-page judgement would have dwelt extensively on it. But what do we find: not even a micro-dot of a sentence was made on this ”monumental lie” of LP‘s. Assuming, for the sake of argument that this was even true, would anyone be able to determine who these ”strangers” cast their votes for in a secret balloting in which none of the 11 registered parties which participated in the election scored zero?
(5) That the declaration of Dr. Mimiko by the tribunal caused euphoria like Obama‘s. Undoubtedly, Gbadesire is a man who does not recognise the limits of hyperbole. He must also be pretending to possess the gift of clairvoyance. Otherwise, how can he stay in his remote corner in Lagos seeing ”euphoria” enveloping Ondo State? If Gbadesire had a 20/20 vision, or any vision at all, he would have seen clearly that a pall of gloom was cast on Ondo State on that ‘black Friday,‘ July 25, 2008 because the electorate in Ondo State felt that Dr. Mimiko was ”awarded” by the tribunal what he failed to achieve through the ballot box.
(6) The alleged plundering of Ondo State: If EFCC‘s ”visit” to Ondo State is all the ”evidence” Gbadesire and his rabble-rousers can adduce as confirmation of the ”plundering” of the state, then they need the fervent prayers of us all. If mere EFCC‘s ”visit” amounted, in his estimation, to plundering of the resources of a state, what will he then say about states where some public officers had been arrested by EFCC, charged, and convicted by a court of law?
(7) Alleged rubbishing of the judiciary: Gbadesire and his pay-masters have been straining themselves hard to bring Agagu on a collision course with the judiciary by perversely labelling every informed and factual critique of the judgement of the Ondo State Election Tribunal as ”going vulgar and brazen.” What an amateurish way of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. For the records, the judgement of the tribunal was first brought into the public domain by the LP and The Nation, which published the full judgement.
Now back home, is it fair if an Election Tribunal acts contrary to its earlier ruling that ballot papers should only be counted but not sorted into units and wards, but suddenly makes a U-turn after the parties had closed their case and it had adjourned for judgement and thereafter started to sort out ballot papers, which had no identifying features into units and wards in the secret recesses of its chambers, without inviting the contestants – PDP and/or LP? If the tribunal eventually nullified over 161,000 votes of one of the parties (as the Ondo State Election Tribunal actually did to Agagu and PDP), will an impartial observer conclude that the tribunal had not unduly favoured one party to the detriment of the other? If the party who had a raw deal as a result of the tribunal‘s ”secret investigation” raises such a fundamental issue, should a fair and just society commend or condemn him?
If INEC declared a candidate the lawful winner of an election after computing the scores recorded in its statutory forms (EC8 series), can an impartial tribunal conclude that such forms did not exist without asking questions from INEC or the respondent? Will the tribunal still be regarded as impartial and not acting a script if it nullified over 83,000 votes cast for the legitimate winner on such pretext? If the Nigerian Constitution is the supreme law of the land which every judicial officer swore to defend and uphold, can an impartial judge or tribunal breach with impurity a party‘s right to fair hearing which is entrenched in the same constitution he swore to uphold without anybody raising even a whimper? Should such a voice crying loud for justice be muffled or encouraged?
These and many more questions beg for answer in our nation‘s quest to deepen her democracy and achieve the status of an egalitarian nation. The likes of Gbadesire may extol Ondo State Governorship Tribunal ”for taking the pains to count and sort out 163 bags of ballot papers into wards and units without allowing PDP and LP officials into the room…” But let it not be lost on us that when justice is trampled upon in the street nobody knows whose turn it will be. After all, what goes around comes around