The far-reaching Democratic significance of Owelle Rocha’s Okorocha victory

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At the break of the news regarding the court judgement mandating the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to forthwith, issue His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha with his Certificate of Return, having been validly returned as the Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District, I declared that this day should be marked in history and remembered as a Day for Survival of Nigerian Democracy. As audacious as this proposition sounds, it is something that is worth giving a thought to. We must not lend ourselves to the time wasting arguments of those who should know better, but have allowed partisan leanings to becloud even their most basic senses of patriotism, morality and even professionalism.

Contrary to the slew of sponsored misinformation flying around the social media, the presiding judge did not completely ignore the accusation of ‘duress’ as made by the Returning Officer, Professor Innocent Ibeawuchi. The Presiding Judge queried how INEC arrived at the conclusion that such allegation was true, without hearing from the accused, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha and as well ignoring the report of the government agency empowered by law to protect electoral officials in the discharge of their duties, the Nigerian Police Force. If there was any kind of duress during the declaration of that result, it surely came from individuals outside the premises of that Imo West Senatorial District Collation Center or from the pocket of the Returning Officer, who may have seen that statement as a way to retire whatever money he might have been paid by the losers in that election.

If we were running a country with conscience, the Returning Officer would have been arrested long ago and made to prove what constituted duress in the presence of a barge of security operatives, drawn from the Army, Police, Civil Defence and the DSS. Like I have always argued, Mr. Ibeawuchi was under duress by his pocket and his sponsors. He made attempts to rob the people of Imo West Senatorial District of their mandate, but was resisted. His allegation of duress was to satisfy his sponsors that he tried his best but couldn’t succeed. Ibeawuchi made himself available to politicians to be used in trying to derail our democracy and it would have been disastrous if the court had aligned itself with such action.

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It would have been impossible for anyone to have forced a Returning Officer to declare him a winner in the presence of more than 200 security personnel. What was possible was that some people could have stopped a Returning Officer from stealing their right to elect their preferred representative at any level. The questions that would lead us to the correct conclusions on this matter are; Was this Returning Officer kidnapped? No. Was the declaration made at a venue designated for such purpose? Yes. Did any of the Collation officers question any of the returns made? No. Was there adequate security presence at the Collation Center? Yes.

The National Judicial Council should begin an investigation into the activities of one Justice Njemanze who gave a controversial and suspicious exparte order on a matter that was already scheduled for judgement, a matter he has no jurisdiction over and a matter on which he should have received himself even if he had the jurisdiction over, considering his close affiliation with the plaintiff in that matter. Fortunately, that Justice Njemanze’s order has been made as useless as the paper it is written on, following the judgement by the Federal High Court. One does not need to be a lawyer to be able to understand simple legal jargons and how they apply.

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In recording Nigeria’s democratic struggles, the persecution suffered by His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha in this political dispensation must have a full chapter for its discussion. Had the Court upheld this clear rape on our Constitution and Democracy, it would have lent itself as scaffold to INEC’s incompetence, partisanship and mindless corruption. INEC didn’t have the smallest right to take the action they did, and in nowhere in the Constitution was this level of impudence for the will of the majority in a democracy by INEC, ever envisaged in either the Constitution or the Electoral Act.

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There is no Nigerian who is still confused about the writers of the script played and still being played by the INEC and there are very few Nigerians who are not certain about the intended climax of that bad script. Nigerians must thank God that the target of this conspiracy was someone as formidably patriotic and unwaveringly democratic as Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Anyone else may have wavered in the legal struggle to retain the freely given mandate of the people, hence, setting up a dangerous precedent that would have left the democratic rights of millions of people in the hands of very few supposed umpires.

Justice Abang’s judgement is one of the most detailed I have read recently, and he gave no room for doubts, except for some mischievous people who would do anything to twist facts in order to earn their meal tickets. A lawyer of the PDP persuasion told me that if Abang had ruled otherwise, then, it may have earned him an NJC hammer, because the action of the INEC has no basis in law and the arguments of the other seven defendants whom the Judge aptly described as meddlesome interlopers, have no bearing with logic.

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Senator Okorocha has saved the Nigerian democracy some serious embarrassments by sustaining this legal action. This is one of those many times, where his stubbornness has come to pay off, not just for himself but for the people and for posterity. If the Senator had gone the way some of us thought convenient, by seeking only political solutions to that embarrassing imbroglio, he might as well had succeeded, but this would have emboldened INEC into arrogating powers it did not have and should not have.

Owelle Rochas Okorocha, by this victory further advances the power of the people over the power of a cabal or any clique no matter how powerful such a clique is. The judiciary couldn’t have given orders, if no one approached it for such orders and like we say in our place; aruruala gbaa afo, ya ghoo omenala – meaning that when evil is left unchallenged for a long time, it becomes norm. It has taken the courage and patriotism of Senator Rochas Okorocha to nip this raging attempt by the INEC to turn itself to a Gestapo, and we must congratulate him, no matter on which side of the political divide we are in.

BY ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES from IMO State

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