The desperation to win at all cost seems to be the scenario now playing out at the ongoing sitting of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Owerri. Obviously, in this desperation to misinform and mislead the Honourable Justices of the panel, some of the petitioners have thrown decorum over board and have gone ahead to manufacture what they called “original results” of the governorship election in Imo contrary to the authenticated results announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
This ugly development has not only bewildered some members of the bar and bench, but also amazed political analysts and social commentators in Imo and across the country. The question which keeps agitating this school of thought is, “What are some of the petitioners, including those who performed so abysmal in the governorship election,doing at the tribunal?
For instance, the petition of Senator Hope Uzodinma at the tribunal has been generating ripples because of his claim to be the winner of the election of March 9, 2019. As ridiculous as this claim have sounded to rational minds, the Senator in his desperation to twist the hard and empirical facts associated with INEC’s popularly accepted governorship result in Imo, still went ahead to hire one mercenary from Benue State Police Command, Hussein Rabiu, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) to “authenticate” certain ineligible and unreadable duplicate copies of results in some wards in Imo state, wherein he surprisingly claimed to have won.
These Uzodinma’s mysterious results are not known to the electoral umpire, INEC, which has since disowned them. Their source is only known to Uzodinma and DCP Hussein Rabiu, who threw caution to the wind and mounted the witness box to the utter bewilderment of lawyers and all persons in court, to adduce reasons the results are genuine. Indeed,as he has bragged, in Nigeria, anything is possible.
A critical evaluation of DCP Rabiu’s presence and testimony in court in relation to Senator Uzodinma’s “ninth wonder” results, raises some fundamental posers.
(1) Considering that DCP Rabiu was of Benue Police Command, was he the right person to be ordered by the court to authenticate the “nineth wonder” results?
(2) Who received the subpoena on the strength of which DCP Rabiu testified – the Police Command or Rabiu himself?
(3) Rabiu’s testament in court wasn’t front loaded with Uzodinma’s Petition as required by law. He also had no written statement on oath. So on what basis then was he allowed by the tribunal to testify orally contrary to established rules?
(4) Whose interest was Rabiu representing when he testified in court- the Police authorities or himself, moreso as the Police authorities have dissociated themselves with his presence in court that day?
(5) Is DCP Rabiu the maker of all the “ninth wonder” documents he tendered in court?
In providing reasonable and justiceable answers to the above posers, it might suffice to posit that this appraisal is in no way trying to prejudice the proceedings at the tribunal.
Rather, it is unarguable that the Honourable justices have so far exhibited maturity, fairness and dispassionate approach to issues.
These laudable observations notwithstanding, it is equally pertinent to underscore that the Honourable justices are human beings too and it is axiomatic that no man is infallible. In other words, they should be assisted by litigants to arrive at a just and dispassionate decisions which ultimately serve the interest of justice rather than that of any particular litigant. Their judgment must be above board and we strongly believe that they must be like the Ceaser’s wife.
Back to our discourse on Senator Uzodinma “ninth wonder” results and the infamous role of DCP Rabiu which has tended to bring the police to public odium. The eyebrows raised by lawyers in court the day Rabiu testified will for a long time remain indelible in the memory of all those present in court that day.
As hinted earlier, neither the Inspector General of Police (IGP) nor the Commissioner of Police, Imo State, was aware of Rabiu’s activities at the tribunal. They may also not be officially aware that their DCP may be doing a hatchet job and for pecuniary interests. Waooh, Senator Uzodinma must really think he is a smart guy!
As provided by the extant rules, all depositions of proposed witnesses of a petitioner shall be on oath and front loaded alongside the petition and same served together on the defendant. The intendment here is to avoid ambushing the defendant, smuggling in extraneous materials not pleaded/front loaded’ or conferring undue advantage on either of the parties in a suit.
But the reverse was evidently the case here. Of course, Uzodinma’s men prior to DCP Rabiu’s abracadabra in court, had been boasting that with the Presidency in Abuja behind their Oga and that with excess cash to throw about, anybody could be procured by their master in the interest of their case.
Rabiu neither frontloaded his depositions nor were they brought in on oath, yet the court amazingly allowed him to proceed with his flawed testimony. Yes, his testimony was not just flawed, it was also a bundle of contradictions and are believed by legal pundits to have done more harm than good to Uzodinma’s case. This discourse therefore, is purely only for posterity sake and nothing more.
Senator Ifeanyi Ararume’s witness with a similar issue in another matter before the same tribunal was thrown out of the witness box for even a far lesser anomaly than that of Rabiu. In the case of Ararume’s witness, his written statement on oath was filed outside the 21 days allowed by the rules. It therefore amounted to a non-issue, the court said.
Why then was that of Senator Uzodinma, which was replete with errors and also mysteriously imported allowed to be tendered? In as much as much as Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s legal team has appealed against this decision but in the spirit of not taking anything for granted, question upon questions keep arising there from everyday.
By the rules, only the maker of a document is legally allowed to tender it under oath. In this case, Rabiu told the court he was not the maker of all the results, yet he surprisingly came to represent the contents of so many other results he was not privy to their making. What an aberration!
Even the contents of the so called results of about 366 wards which Uzodinma’s camp have been bragging about with , were faint, not readable or in some cases, the hand writing was clearly in- illegible. How will the court decipher who scored what? Are the courts allowed to speculate on the genuineness of “Oluwole” results which even the claimant couldn’t read out in court? No, I don’t think so. It is trite that the Evidence Act frowns at such issues and the Supreme Court in many decided cases, has made it lucid that the courts cannot be allowed to dabble into unnecessary speculations.
According to Rabiu, the court’s subpoena was ironically served on him by Uzodinma’s lawyer in court and not on the Police. This is purely against the rules. The subpoena shall be served on the IGP’s office where it will procedurally get to the identified officer. This makes the officer’s presence in court legal. Reverse was the procedure adopted by the desperate Uzodinma. Only Rabiu and Uzodinma can explain the kind of hand shake both exchanged which gave the former the morale booster to dabble into the witness boss not minding the risk he was taking.
As already stated, nobody is perturbed about the “ninth wonder” results Uzodinma brought to court. If not for the amended provisions as contained in section 285 of the constitution (4th Alternation) which allows even worthless documents to be dumped on the court until judgment is finally delivered in order to meet up with the 180 days life span of the tribunals, we won’t be discussing this non-issue. This provision has given guy men politicians like Uzodinma the opportunity to keep misleading and hoodwinking their gullible and ignorant supporters that even with his very distant 4th position in the Imo governorship election, he can still manipulate our judicial system to his favour.
Undoubtedly, Uzodinma is desperate to remain relevant politically and as the saying goes, “if MUGU no fall, Peter man no go CHOP” But of course, such is no longer obtainable in Imo today. The people are now wiser, so also are our judicial officers.
The era of purchasing “black market judgments” at the expense and integrity of our noble justices is gone. The reformed judicial system now encourages judges to deliver judgments dispassionately not minding whose ox is gored.
It needs not be over emphasized that there is no clear difference between Senator Hope Uzodinma and Senator Rochas Okorochas. Both are two sides of the same coin and birds of identical plumage.
As Imo people watches with keen interest unfolding developments at the Imo Governorship Petitions Tribunal, it must be borne in mind that the people have resolved unequivocally to stand with the truth and never go back to Egypt under any guise.