Ikpeazu: A Mandate Ordained By God

By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

“ I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all”.-Ecclesiastes 9:11.

The above scripture is a classical interpretation that leadership positions-both in the secular and religious settings- are ordained by God. Isaiah 46:10 buttresses this fact thus:” I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please”.

Most times, turbulence defines the path of some of these leaders right from the ancient times. The biblical characters, King David and Joseph are classical interpretations of this claim. The tragic story of Saul’s fall from grace was necessitated by his failure to carry God’s command to destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions to the letter. Saul did not only disobeyed this command, instead of destroying all the spoils from the Amalekites, Saul and the people kept back the choicest assets and destroyed only the useless property. That was the final straw, Saul was rejected by God and Samuel was instructed by God to shop for any King for Israel. That was how David came on board.

God’s rejection of Saul set the stage for a new King and an obscure- shepherd boy, David, the son of Jesse appeared on the scene. But how was he going to cope when Saul was still sitting on the throne?

No sooner had Samuel anointed David King than Saul called him to the royal court, and that changed the narrative of David to a fugitive whose life was frustrated with fear and dejection as his twin companions .As Saul’s hatred for David became more intense, Saul plotted several ways to dispense of him but his attempts crumbled like a pack of cards.

Because God was with David, He was always providing him with escape routes. David was strongly attached to Saul’s youngest daughter, Michal, and this afforded Saul the opportunity to plot for David’s elimination. A difficult condition was proposed by Saul to David before he could offer the hands of Michal to David. The condition is that David must kill a number of Philistines, their national enemies. For Saul, this was a plot to deliver David into the hands of the Philistines but God delivered David and he met the condition.

On few occasions Saul had sought to pin David on the wall with his javelin while playing for him and filling the palace with harmony but God delivered David. He sent spies that they might take the life of David as him as he comes out in the morning but the secret was revealed to David by his wife Michal and David escaped. Michal even went to the extent of designing a subterfuge to aid David’s escape. Jonathan, the son of Saul, in some occasions provided escape for David by revealing to him Saul’s evil intents on David.

The lesson to be drawn from the above narration is that nobody thwarts what God has ordained. If God is with you will always emerge victorious no matter the circumstance. “So David went on and became great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house. So David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel”.-(2 Samuel 5:10-12).

Back home, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration has witnessed several attempts to cut it short by persons who would not stop at nothing to thwart the will of God. On 31st December 2015, the Court of Appeal, sitting in Owerri and headed by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, in a highly controversial judgment removed Gov. Ikpeazu and declared Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance the winner of the April 11 and April 25 supplementary elections in the state.

The same judgment also disenfranchised over 300,000 voters from Obingwa, Osisioma and Ugwunagbo local government areas by nullifying elections held in these areas. Thank God the coup could not stand as the apex court few months later upturned the judgment and reaffirmed the mandate of Ikpeazu which was earlier affirmed by the lower tribunal .The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Ikpeazu of the PDP won the lawfully cast votes in the April 11, 2015 election.

Advancing its reasons for the judgment, the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed held that the Appellate Court usurped the power of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is the only organ empowered to cancel polling results. The court also faults the Lower Court’s reliance on card reader for its judgment.

The apex court also ruled that the card reader machine has no statutory backing in Nigeria’s law and should not be used to determine a winner in any election .The panel also held that the allegation on voting was not proved as the petitioner failed to tender voter’s register to substantiate his claims.

Last year, another rude shock was unleashed when Justice Okon Efreti Abang of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court delivered, what is highly described as “a controversial judgment “which ordered that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu vacate office on account of allegedly giving false information in the form submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), nominating the governor as the party’s candidate in the April 11, 2015 governorship election .The plot was capped with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC issuing a Certificate of Return to Uche Ogah in defiance of a Notice of Appeal and a Stay of Execution order which proves have indicated that the electoral body was duly served.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja upturned the controversial judgment of Justice Okon Abang. Delivering one of the lead judgments consisting of six appeals that emanated from the suit at the trial court, the Presiding Justice of the five-man panel, Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, held that the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, turned the law on its head when it held that the governor’s tax papers supplied false information, when in actual fact the tax documents were generated from official quarters.

The appellate court also held that Justice Abang misinterpreted Section 31 of the Electoral Act, on the ground that there was no evidence before the court to that effect.Justice Ogunwumiju further declared that Justice Abang raped democracy in his order that INEC should issue a certificate of return to Dr Ogah when there was no evidence of forgery or criminality against the appellant.

According to the court, the judgement of Justice Abang was “grossly erroneous because it was based on inadequacy of tax receipt that cannot be visited on the appellant (Ikpeazu).

Justice Ogunwumiju also held that the Federal High Court Judge turned the law upside down in his conclusion that it was the appellant that should bear the burden of proof on the allegation made by Ogah. The appellate court also held that Ogah ought not to have commenced the case through an originating summon, saying that such a suit should have been instituted through a writ of summons. Uche Ogah not satisfied with the Appeal Court ruling proceeded to the Supreme Court.

Like David, Ikpeazu has been surmounting all these obstacles and weathering these storms because God has been providing him with escape routes. As Abians await the Supreme Court judgment May 12, God will continue to be with Ikpeazu as He was with Joseph. “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian”.-(Genesis 39:2). Joseph from a tender age believed God had destined him for greatness. In dreams, God assured Joseph that he would rise to a position of leadership over his parents and brothers. From Joseph’s point of view, these dreams were evidence of divine blessing, rather than his own ambition. From his brothers’ point of view, however, the dreams were further manifestations of the unfair privilege that Joseph enjoyed as the favorite son of their father, Jacob.

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