By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
WHAT do you expect from Abia State, one garrulous fellow retorted in reaction to Friday’s judgement of Justice Binta F. M. Nyako that Uche Ogah was the governorship candidate of All Peoples Congress, APC, for the 2023 election. She told the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to so recognise Ogah.
For the records Justice Nyako, formerly married to Vice Admiral Murtala a former Governor of Adamawa State, is from Katsina State. The issue is the relentless inclination of judges to disobey court orders. It is a matter too important to be wasted in the huge appetite of some to demonise Abia State, and APC which never fails to mis-manage its internal affairs.
Ogah, former Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development had contended for the seat with Ikechi Emenike and lost twice at the Court of Appeals in Owerri and Abuja. INEC on the bases of those judgements had recognised Emenike as the APC candidate and uploaded his name on its website.
Justice Nyako, a High Court judge, on Friday over-ruled the judgements of the Courts of Appeal. She expects her judgement to stand. Of course, she knows that if a superior court had rule on a matter it was above her to reverse it. She still did.
Each time these conducts that diminish the integrity of the courts take place, there are no consequences hence they persist. The sequence of the journey to Friday’s curious judgement follows –
. Abia APC held parallel governorship primaries in the state that produced Emenike and Ogah.
. May 26, APC declared Emenike winner of its governorship primary in Abia State.
. Abia High Court in a suit Chinedum Nwole and two others filed, declared that Emenike lacked the locus standi to contest the election because the party had suspended him.
. In another ruling Justice O.A. Chijioke granted Emenike a stay of execution on the restraining order earlier imposed.
. Emenike asked the High Court to determine if APC could refuse to submit his name to INEC.
. Another issue he wanted to be decided was if INEC could refuse to publish his name as the APC candidate for the 2023 governorship election.
. On June 24, Justice Benson Anya of Abia High Court, Umuahia asked APC to submit Emenike’s name to INEC and for INEC to upload Emenike’s name on its portal.
. INEC, the court ruled, could not accept or publish the name of a candidate other than Emenike.
. Ogah was not a party to the suit.
. He participated in a different primary from the one that produced Emenike.
. July 19, Ogah’s attempt to file an appeal in Owerri against the judgment as an interested party was dismissed.
. Ogah’s lawyers filed another appeal in Abuja.
. Emenike’s legal team objected to Ogah’s motion at the Court of Appeal in Abuja on the ground that it was filed out of time, outside the 14 days stipulated for filing of an appeal in pre-election cases.
. The Court of Appeal upheld the preliminary objection in favour of Emenike.
. Ogah then filed a new suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja
. His lawyer, Solomon Umoh, said that INEC officials monitored the direct primary that produced Ogah as against the indirect primary from which Emenike emerged.
. He prayed for an order directing APC to forward Ogah’s name to INEC as its duly nominated candidate for the 2023 Abia governorship election.
. APC, and its national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, did not recognise the primary that produced Ogah.
. Emenike’s lawyer Lateef Fagbemi, prayed the court to uphold the nomination of his client as he was the product of a primary lawfully conducted by APC National Working Committee.
On Friday, Justice Nyako named Ogah the APC governorship candidate. She invalidated the indirect primary that Emenike won. Other orders she made were that APC should forward Ogah’s name to INEC as its duly elected governorship candidate for the 2023 election in Abia State. INEC, she similarly ordered INEC to accord Ogah recognition as APC’s candidate.
Why would Justice Nyako listen to Ogah – who has a pending appeal – in a fresh suit on the same matter? Was she not aware that the Court of Appeal had upheld Emenike’s objection that Ogah filed his appeal out of time?
In a matter of months one of the most contested elections in the country would hold. Judgements like Justice Nyako’s in suits that disregard court judgements introduce more tensions to the system.
They should not be allowed. Are we running a system where people obey only judgements that favour them?
Will INEC obey the orders of Justice Nyako? When will the Chief Justice of Nigeria rein in judges to restore sanity to judicial pronouncements?
Nigerians await the final outcome of the judgement that has thrown up Abia State into the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues