Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state is in the eye of the storm. Abia state is in the midst of a raging tornado. The beginning is what we all know but the end is pregnant with consequences, grave ones, no doubt!
At a time when Abians were settling down and beginning to get used to and enjoy what seemed like genuine dividends of democracy among the other states, then came in this controversy of a court pronouncement that purportedly sacked the governor while ordering that Uche Ogah be issued a Certificate of Return in place of the incumbent.
Since that judgement, not only Abians but Nigerians generally have become agitated and asking where is our democracy heading to?
In our laws, a judgement is not executed if either party has filed a notice of appeal. This was the case in the Taraba election tribunal where Aisha Alhassan’s victory at the tribunal was not executed until the appeal court upturned the lower court’s verdict. That should be the standard practice everywhere.
Before the execution of any court order, the legal processes must have been exhausted unless where parties intend otherwise.
So the rush of INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Uche Ogah when Okezie Ikpeazu has indicated interest and actually filed a notice of appeal is suspect and smacks of a conspiratorial web woven against the people of Abia by those who wish to set the State backwards.
Who are these people and why have they decided to embark on this retrogressive journey of “Change”in Abia State at all cost? At a time when Abia was celebrating the breath of new life and fresh air into its developmental strides as championed by Ikpeazu, selfish, parochial and cryonic interests are determined to throw spanners in the progress of the State using questionable judicial pronouncements that are executed with the speed of light even though the judicial process still has some distance to cover.
Alas, one wonders why an otherwise independent arbiter like INEC would describe the verdict of the court as “wonderful”! Hear the INEC Commissioner in charge of South East, Amb Lawrence Nwuruku: “If you were in the court that day, and I urge you the media, to go and study the court ruling very well, it was wonderful…” With such statements as this, one does not need to look too far to know where the bias of INEC lies in this matter.
To this end, those who are behind this charade are very well known to the Nigerian public, and like we say in our local parlance, they should “kontinu”.
The people of Abia have expressed solidarity with their governor and have publicly shown that they love him. Such love does not just flow from party affiliation, ethnic background or any other parochial consideration, it is the kind of love that is earned and not imposed, the kind of love that flows from a grateful heart for what Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has been able to achieve as governor in the last one year despite the numerous distractions thrown his way.
His sin against the powers that be, those who want to see him removed by all means, is well known by the discerning. The very moment Ikpeazu declared that there was no grazing land available anywhere in the whole of the South East contrary to the expectations of those pushing for grazing reserves all over the federation, he became a target that must be quickly removed as his profile as a champion of the Igbo cause was rising fast.
Also, his rejigging the Abia state Vigilante Services to assist the security agencies in tackling the growing menace of the Fulani herdsmen in Igbo land especially in the wake of their murderous invasion of the Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu state among others, no doubt, put him in the firing line of Nigeria’s self-acclaimed strongmen.
There is nothing wrong in protecting one’s citizens. Dr Ikpeazu has demonstrated uncommon courage in the face of subtle and open intimidation of opposition governors and figures. He has chosen to stand by his people and protect them against those who regularly invade communities with their cattle, destroying farmlands and livelihood, raping women, reaping open the tummy of pregnant ones, slaughtering children even infants at the point of suckling, maiming the youths and killing their fathers.
No responsible governor worth his salt would stand by and watch all these happen to his people without seeking to protect them. It is now the turn of the people of Abia state to stand by their governor and repay him with loyalty by being vigilant and ensuring that such civilian coup as being orchestrated by State agents fails.
Power belongs to the people! The era when leaders are imposed on Ndigbo is far gone; the times of planting puppets, bootlickers, betrayers and spies of our oppressors as leaders are in the distant past.
Unless and until the judicial processes have been exhaustively explored, the palace coup taking place in Abia must not be allowed to stand! This is a rape of our democracy, it is a puerile attempt to subjugate the people’s rights; the process and actions leading to this shenanigan are as facile as the end result is jejune.
I call on all voices of reason to arise above fear, favour and sentiments to roundly condemn this action by INEC and their sponsors so as to rescue a nation fast drifting into tyranny and fascism. One thing is sure, if Germany could remain after Hitler, Nigeria would remain after any strongman.
Dr Okezie Ikpeazu remains the governor of Abia state unless and until he exhausts all legal opportunities made available to him by our laws to defend and protect his mandate. Those who think otherwise should do well to meet him at the Court of Appeal. That is the least we expect from responsible leaders and those who aspire to lead us!
Ndukwe is a lawyer and a public affairs analyst.