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Ngige and the Tribunal Re-branding of Akunyili to learn Political Character by: Odimegwu Onwumere

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From when he was governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige is too enthusiastic to respect. This earned him the admiration of many, beyond Anambra State, as a man who believes that anything is not possible in the judicial system except justice. He is a man not known for many words but action, ever proficient to lead in any office he is and very frail to take his political opponents on propaganda even when the opponents are showcasing foolish behavior and unimportant idiosyncrasy with defect of character and are wrongly proud.

The hot political teapot of the Anambra Central senatorial seat came to arrest when on Tuesday 21st February 2012 the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka struck out the petition instituted by the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the bigheaded Professor Dora Akunyili, against the election of Dr. Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), for lack of jurisdiction.

It could be recalled that on May 17, 2011, Akunyili had filed a petition challenging the result of the April 2011 poll in which Ngige was declared winner of the Anambra Central senatorial seat. This decision of the tribunal was a follow-up to the February 14 and February 17 judgments of the Supreme Court on the subject of 180 days within which election petitions could be heard.

Before this judgement was made, there was a media report that said that Akunyili was confused of which she later frigidly rushed to the media and said that she was not confused. But well meaning Nigerians doubted her claim, because this is a woman who was with the NAFDAC and was dealing deliriously with fake drug peddlers before she was redeployed to the nation's Ministry of Information of which she was also excelling in. But before Nigerians could pronounce Jack Robinson she has resigned Czar of the Information house of the federation and abandoned her Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitched tent with the APGA for the mirage senatorial seat of her town. Nigerians watched her with unredeemable confusion too, as well.

The same confusion had followed her and she didn't take to cognizance that the Supreme Court made it clear that 180 days for the hearing and determination of petition under the 1999 Constitution cannot be extended even where it is forwarded for retrial. The counsel to Ngige, Mr. Emeka Ngige (SAN), for this reason urged the court to strike out the case in line with the Supreme Court decision and reminded all that this brings to front the stipulation of the 1999 Constitution, which states that the decision of the Supreme Court shall be enforced by all authorities as well as courts with subordinate jurisdiction. And the court did not run polluted of that decision. Counsel to INEC, Mr. Ositadinma Nnadi (SAN), informationally, while associating himself with the submissions of Ngige, harangued that “where a court lacked jurisdiction, the proper order will be to strike out such petition…. and do the needful as a debt owed to justice”. The submission of the counsel to Akunyili, Mr. Obiora Obianwu (SAN), to oppose the application, at-a-standstill followed the confused state of mind of his client who was racketing to oust the indomitable Ngige.

While Ngige is not known for propaganda and political insult, Akunyili used that advantage and wanted to draw the pity of Nigerians thinking that they were daft by making Ngige look like a common criminal, which he is not and might not be, by saying that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) was investigating allegations of bribery leveled against the party during the rerun election in the senatorial district insisting that there was over-voting in 1,500 polling booths and that only one booth was found to have an error in favour of APGA.

Akunyili was expertising on the fact that Ngige is a man who does not recompense to farce of detractors and was accusing him of desperation in seeking to blackmail and intimidate the tribunal Election Tribunal sitting in Awka and with a view to leading astray justice as if the Justices do not know their job and how to institute it. Akunyili cited a statement she said that was circulated in the Internet blogs by the Anambra State Chapter of ACN as her optimum proof of the desperation of Ngige and his party to blackmail and intimidate the tribunal. Holy Onwumere!

Those who know journalism will attest to this that fact is sacrosanct but fiction is practical joke. In a statement signed by Akunyili's media aide, Mr. Isaac Umunna, she was still confused when she could not make a meaningful statement with whatever she meant by 'Judiciary Vigilante' of the ACN. She said: “My attention has been drawn to a statement issued yesterday, February 13, by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Anambra State Chapter, and circulated among Internet blogs, in which Anambra ACN announced that it has set up and is training a 'Judiciary Vigilante' charged with policing the National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Awka.” Did you understand anything from this statement? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!!

It is a fact that the guilty is always running and this could be found in Akunyili's statement against Ngige, as if she was telling the observer Nigerians that the judiciary should not be trusted 'as a platform that can be manipulated' perhaps she had done so before, but the court can never be fooled. Hear her again: “The task of the vigilante, according to the statement entitled 'ACN sets up, trains Judiciary Vigilante', 'is to keep a watch on the Judiciary closely and pay attention to some special persons so designated to ensure that the adjudication currently on-going in the ill-fated petition of Dora Akunyili is above board.' ACN also claimed that my case/that of my party, APGA, against the announcement of Dr. Chris Ngige as the winner of the April 2011 Anambra Central Senatorial District election have collapsed. By so doing, the ACN has arrogated to itself the power to decide the verdict of the tribunal.” Was this not a muddled statement coming from a disordered Akunyili? Ngige can never be distracted. Nonsense! Arrant nonsense!! 

She was also at the height of political propaganda and abracadabra thinking that Nigeria today was the Nigeria of 1999-2007 when the winner carried it all. She went further to expose herself to the gallery for people to laugh at, when she said:  “The sheer arrogance and deliberate twisting of the facts by Dr. Ngige and the ACN in their desperation to confuse the public and poison people's minds regarding the on-going sitting of the tribunal. Their ultimate aim, of course, is to blackmail and possibly intimidate the tribunal with a view to getting it to endorse his stolen mandate. They had earlier written a petition against the panel, vowing to ensure its disbandment, only to apologise before the panel and claim that they didn't know who wrote the petition.” Did you hear her say 'stolen mandate'? She was supposed to tell Nigerians who also wrote the petition owing to her statement that the election was a 'stolen mandate'. She jumped ship again and wanted to coerce the learned gentlemen to see her treacherous outburst as a means of judgement, but alas, the judiciary knew better and was clever than she thought she could foist on it.

Observers of the politics of Akunyili could attest that she sustained an unhealthy propaganda war on the tribunal for too long against Ngige who was quiet because the innocent can never be afraid. She was biting like a wounded snake and was accusing everybody even when the court had not said that such persons were guilty. Please hear Akunyili again: “The propaganda war started when they recruited Dr. Alex Anene, the new Returning Officer for the first election held on April 9, 2011, to orchestrate a stalemate and cause a re-run in some places instead of announcing the authentic results that gave me a clear victory.”

From her statements it is obvious that Akunyili was not expressing a wish or assumption but rather, she was categorically saying, while Nigerians were reading meanings into her body language, as a person who was commanding orders for the judiciary to succumb to, but the later has shown her that in law the learned gentlemen don't pay heed to calculated propaganda like hers. What happiness was Akunyili expressing that (ICPC) had started investigating the activities of Anene during that election, whereas the judiciary has already ridiculed her case by throwing it out for lack of substance? Did you hear “for lack of substance”?   Is it not better she save herself of further shame by not thinking that the ICPC will find anything more than what the court has told her 'confused' case?

All the lies against Ngige to lure the judiciary in favour of Akunyili, the former and his team that Akunyili labeled “propagandists” were quiet because they knew that it's needless joining issues with a woman whom even the mindless child in the street knew was confused and without any iota of decent political character . The honourable and courageously learned men later sieved the chaff from the wheat by rendering justice in favour of Ngige no matter how many attempts Akunyili made to bring Ngige's name to disrepute. She didn't succeed! Earnestly, she didn't succeed!!

While the case has been struck out against Akunyili, she has resorted to saying that it was done on the ground of technicalities, having swaggered that the tribunal was hearing her case on merit, and that Ngige and his people were panicking because of what she described as,  they have seen the handwriting on the wall. It is better that Akunyili turn a new leaf and leave Ngige alone. She should know that her side attractions and distractions have come to an end in the political lexicon of this Anambra senatorial seat with Ngige. She should learn how not to inflate judiciary matters with mercenary of propagandists.  She should learn how not to say "over voting", because there will never be a trial without attainable platform. Did she not eat her words under oath at the tribunal when she was made to admit at the tribunal that her votes were pumped up in six random polling booth samples?  She should save herself further embarrassment by understanding that the case for all practical purposes has been won by Ngige.