Not so long ago, one of the greatest and most influential African-Americans in history, Malcolm X, uttered a touching quote and each time I look at the turn of events in the Imo governorship tussle, it easily flows through my mind. Even though the quote was made over 50 years ago, its relevance to the travesty served on the people of Imo state is unquantifiable.
The quote goes thus: “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
Quite profound and that explains my disappointment with the manner in which the leadership of Imo state has been decided for the next four years.
If the trend of events that throw up Hope Uzodinma as governor is holistically examined, it’s so obvious that truth and justice were debasingly raped. That is the simple inference any objective mind would make from the entire episode. It is something that should never happen, not to talk of this digital age when the world has become a global village.
Initially, the thought of review had raised hope of remedy for the glaring flaws that were inherent in the earlier ruling of the country’s apex court, but it all went to nought when the panel choose to preserve the error. “The judgement of the Supreme Court is a finality,” Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who read the majority judgement that has Chief Justice Tanko Muhammed as head of the panel, put the matter to rest.
The implication is that even if a decision of the Supreme Court is fraught with errors and controversies as the Imo governorship tussle has shown, it must subsist because they are ‘final’. However, Justice Chima Nweze disagreed with his colleagues as he concurred with Ihedioha’s counsel that “Uzodinma misled this court (Supreme Court) into awarding him victory.”
Perhaps, he was persuaded by the glaring inconsistencies in the pleadings that awarded Uzodinma undue victory and ordered: “Uzodinma should return his certificate of return to INEC which shall reissue it to Ihedioha.” But he was alone in that decision and his pronouncement, as profound as it seems, was, however, of no effect.
Not even the analogy of Kanu Agabi, Ihedioha led counsel that “when I was a child, my father will beat me to cry and also beat me to stop. My Lord, please we’re crying and do not treat us like my father did” could change anything. In the end, the status quo remains and Imo people are stuck with Uzodinma for four years
Shortly after the Supreme Court turned down Ihedioha review request, the media went into a frenzy and different headlines popped up to catch the attention of the reader. But I find some interesting, and at the same disturbing. It is disturbing because many failed to weigh the long-term implication of what happened and the bearing on electoral jurisprudence.
If anyone assumes or conclude that Ihedioha was a loser going by the outcome at the Supreme Court, that would be a huge mistake. True, he was denied the mandate freely bestowed on him by Imo electorate but a critical look will show that far from Ihedioha, the real loser is justice.
That is because it is hard to reconcile, as pointed out by Justice Nweze, that “Uzodinma cannot benefit from an election he wanted to be invalidated”, yet, he is handed the governorship seat of Imo state. That is, unmistakably, a knockout for justice and the people of Imo who would have to stick with a governor that errors foisted on them.
In my earlier article that was entitled ‘Imo: The people no longer decide’, I posited that “for all the justified outrage that trailed the manner in which Ihedioha lost out, one thing, and a frightening reality that the Supreme Court judgement represents is that, the people no longer decides.” I’m even more worried now than when I first made that conclusion.
Right before us, we have a precedent that would do no good in the future. It’s beyond Ihedioha because justice, as it has ever been, is never about an individual, but something that every society require for confidence and stability. Even God cherished justice and admonished humans through the various Holy books to always follow its path.
While the door of the courts is forever closed on the Imo governorship tussle for the 2019 election circle but the mind of Nigerians cannot be easily deflected away from how the impossible became possible, not by facts but controversial circumstance. This has come and gone, hopefully, we would not have another reason to rue the loss of justice in the future.
Oke Umurhohwo is a Political Analyst and Strategist. He tweets via @OkeStalyf and can be reached via email@example.com
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