Who is afraid of telling the truth as it is? Who says that judges are not Nigerians who live in this country and feel the same pain and discomfort brought about by poor leadership by politicians, criminal and senseless judgments by some members of the judiciary who are, more often than not, compromised and corrupt as we rank amongst the worst corrupt nations in the world?
In Abia state, the judges who sat on the Election Petition Tribunals for the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly yielded to the monetary inducements and pressure from PDP, as a political party, to actualize their plan hatched before former President Jonathan left office.
The plan is not to lose any single seat won by rigging at the last elections in any of the oil producing states, but to gain more of the seats won by the other political parties.
In one of their meetings held in a hotel in Abuja, presided over by the Ekiti helmsman and attended by a Senator from Ekiti, Chief Ume Kalu, Attorney General of Abia state, PDP party officials from the National secretariat and other party officials from Abia State, they discussed with the representatives of the judges on the tribunals in Abia state. It was there they agreed on how much to pay each judge to buy justice, the money was provided by T.A Orji, Abia state government, PDP candidates and other PDP state governments.
Otherwise, how could people like T.A Orji have won a senate seat when he lost in his unit, ward and all the 3 LGAs in Umuahia.
Mao Ohuabunwa was declared winner without winning in his native Arochukwu LGA, Isuikwuato, Bende and Umunncohi LGAs of the Senatorial zone of Abia North.
Abaribe who got 66,000 votes from only Obingwa LGA the same day former President Jonathan got 16,000 votes from the same place was given another chance by the tribunal by ordering fresh elections in the area. The judges on this tribunal did not take into account, the national turn out average for the last elections, the discrepancy in the votes Abaribe and Jonathan, both of PDP got respectively, the accredited number of voters in that LGA for that election day etc.
Also ignored was the fact that at the governorship election tribunal, APGA was granted an application to inspect the materials used in the elections, but attempts made to carry out the inspection was scuttled twice by PDP thugs and when the tribunal ordered the materials brought to their sitting premises in Umuahia, the INEC office containing all the materials in Obingwa LGA was burnt down completely. WHO BURNT INEC OFFICE IN OBINGWA?
One wonders which office or materials will be used to conduct fresh elections as ordered by Nigerian judges sitting at this tribunal.
In the case of Isuikwuato / Umunechi Federal constituency, a third time member, imposed on the people by Mrs. Patience Jonathan, the arrogant Nkiru Onyejeocha, who saw defeat coming her way at the tribunal and was preparing to head to the appeal court was declared the winner. That was after her part of the bribe money was finally accepted less than 48 hours to the judgment.
The judges had refused her offer because she had a bad case of using the army to smuggle in fake results into the collation center 24 hours after voting stopped. But she made an offer that could not be refused. What a country!
For the benefit of the Nigerian State, Nigerians and the international community, the following are some of the judges who sat on the Abia Sate Election tribunals:
PANEL (1) JUSTICES:
1. Adeniyi Onigbanjo ( Lagos State)
2. Bello Tukur (Zamfara State)
3. I.E. Umana(Akwa Ibom State)
1. Yahuza ( Jigawa State)
2. Gilbert Ngele (Ebonyi State)
3. Kadi Raha (Kebbi State)
Whatever happened, let God and their conscience be the judge. All we want is that Federal Government, through the judicial service commission, should ask questions to stem the tide and obviate the dangerous trend in the judiciary.
The fight and effort made by judges to get on these Election Tribunals, especially in the PDP years, are intense, very suspicious but worth it.
They call it retirement benefit, after all to make a whopping N400m or more in 180 days of your over 20 plus years on the bench or as a lawyer is difficult to turn down. But the fact is that those days should be gone because PDP is no longer in control of the federal Government when rigging and payment to obtain Justice was order of the day.
Nigerians don’t expect that in a Buhari led Government to say the least.
The problem now is that the ruling party, the APC, is still too busy fighting for positions, nominating and screening ministers, battling with the Code of Conduct tribunal etc to look inward and see how PDP is planning for 2019 General Elections. PDP has sworn not to cede any of the oil producing States to any other political party. They allege that Rivers, being an oil rich State provided the money for the last APC presidential campaign. Until APC wakes up from sleep, PDP will continue to gain, retain and get all the seats they want with the help of the Justices at the Tribunals who in turn want to have there retirement benefits. Abia is an example.
In Ghana, 8 high court judges are facing hell for compromising their offices. Some Ghanaians are even asking for the death penalty. But in Nigeria the only punishment is retirement from the bench. Who cares?
While it is beautiful to have the might of a lion, but it is wicked, tyrannical and senseless to use it like a lion.
What happened at the Abia Election Petition Tribunals?
By: Hanson Ibekwe writes from Isiala Ngwa North