The Abia State governorship tussle between Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party, and Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, which the Court of Appeal in Owerri, Imo State, decided in favour of the latter last week, has degenerated into a war of words between the two camps. The Deputy National Chairman, South, APGA, Mr. Uchenna Okogbu, spoke on the lingering issues in this interview with OGBONNAYA EZIYI, in Umuahia Excerpts:
What is your reaction to the jubilations and protests that have trailed Otti’s victory at the Court of Appeal?
Well, the reactions that trailed the judgement of the Court of Appeal are welcome and expected. The jubilations in the state are expected because the people expected this result; they voted for APGA, they voted for Alex Otti. Abians, who knew what happened during the elections, actually came out en masse to jubilate when the judgement was announced, that their efforts at perfecting a very genuine change were becoming a reality.
Now on the side of the PDP, they quickly became wild, that they even had to start demonstrating, destroying property that belonged to Abians. It is also expected because they know that heads will roll in the state. There will be a lot of exposition of their rot. All the things they have done in this state for 16 years are going to be exposed. We are going to look into how the state had been run in such a period. So it is also normal that they will react, to try to cover the truth. But you can never cover the sun or the moon. The judgement of the Appeal Court came at the very right time. It was judgement based on the truth, based on what really happened. It was based on the fact that the people of the state came out en masse to vote for their choice and their choice is APGA, led by Otti.
But some notable members of the PDP, such former Senate President Adolph Wabara, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, the state chairman of the Party, Senator Emma Nwaka and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu himself have faulted the judgement.
Well, I don’t know if they know better than the lawyers. When the tribunal gave their kangaroo judgement, they were all happy. We saw it as a judgement that was not based on truth and the evidence available. Because the court is a part of the election process, we had to go to a higher court to further present our case. Of course, they also came to the court to defend their winning in the tribunal. But five of the judges of the Appeal Court faulted what was done at the tribunal. Are we going to say the former Senate President and Onyema Ugochukwu know better than the judges? Definitely no, because, none of them is a lawyer. As far as the law is concerned, they are very common people and they know who understands and can interpret the law. They (the Appeal Court judges) looked at what happened and the totality of the case and they said ‘no’, the right thing is so, so, and so. APGA won in the whole of this thing and they gave their judgement. So anybody can go and demonstrate. You are allowed to do what you want to do but what
we are against is these respectable Nigerians coming to lead a protest where property were destroyed, looted and people were injured. That is what we are against. But if you have a peaceful protest, where you go and show your grievances, whether positive or negative, nobody will care. You are allowed to do that.
Do you foresee the apex court upholding the judgement in the face of the appeal filed by the PDP and Governor Ikpeazu?
If the five judges who looked at the case at the Appeal Court awarded it to APGA, I am not sure that the Supreme Court will say the judges don’t know what they did. I believe that anybody who has read that judgement will know that it is very in-depth. It was a well grounded judgement. Each of the matters was treated on its merit. It is not a kangaroo judgement where somebody will write something somewhere and somebody will come and read it. They listened to the case; they took their decision, and they wrote the judgement. So whatever anybody is saying or no matter the demonstration you have done, the Supreme Court judges are also articulate. There is no sentiment in this type of judgement. They look at things on its merit and they will still append their signature to what the Appeal Court has done.
Sentiment doesn’t work in law because a judge can as well sentence someone to death. The people can come and demonstrate but the judge had seen why that person should die. And he will not because you are demonstrating and shouting on the street, say ‘no, I made a mistake; this person should not die.’ Judges look at the merits and demerits of a case and then give their judgement. And this judgement is not based on anything, as they are claiming that APGA gave money. Otti is just an individual who has come to save his people. They have all the money. They know how to give money; so the Appeal Court judges came to do the right thing. They came to do the right thing by looking at that case based on its merit. And then knowing full well that the people of the state came out en masse for a change to remove PDP in Abia State, no right-thinking person would fault it.
If you run into Governor Ikpeazu what would you tell him?
Well, Okezie Ikpeazu, as I learned from people, is not a bad man. But the people around him are the problem. Secondly, the system that produced him is very faulty. If, as people say, he is a good man, he has the chances of rendering good services to the state in future.
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