National Politics

Uzodinma v Umeadi: A Test of Supreme Integrity

By Maazi Obinna Akuwudike

To the common man on the streets of Imo State, their mandate was robbed by the verdict of January 14, 2020.

On that day, instead of jubilation for a mandate reclaimed, there was silence and gloom across the state. This told the true story of who the people voted for.

To forestall protests, and force the will of a few on the people, different from their own will, armed security operatives were positioned around the streets, with live firearms, to shoot at the people who supposedly gave a vote that was upheld through the Supreme Court, if they protested. The people were cowered to submission.

Granted that a judgement was given, based on available evidence on ground, no matter how the majority of Imo people might dispute it’s originality and authenticity, the people are however very interested to putting the Supreme Court to another test once again, to once and for all, judge its integrity, as the Philip Umeadi suit comes up in a few days.

What is Philip Umeadi’s prayer? A very simple explanation from the Supreme Court, how the court ruled that Ugwumba Uche Nwosu was the authentic candidate of the APC and AA, in the 2019 General Elections, yet Hope Uzodinma is now occupying a seat, presumably won by the same APC that was disqualified by the same Supreme Court.

You don’t have to be a lawyer, to see the facts on ground. It is so obvious that everybody is interested to see how anybody can wish it away with another legal spin.

Is Uche Nwosu the APC candidate? The Supreme Court says he is. Was he and his parties, APC and AA, disqualified for holding dual candidacy? The Supreme Court once again affirms that. So where did Hope Uzodinma emerge from?

Agreed that APC won the elections, which the Supreme affirmed, I would probably fault Ihedioha’s lawyers, for not pointing out to the Supreme Court, its earlier ruling on Uche Nwosu. So the blame for the error, isn’t wholly the Supreme Court’s, but it lies on them to correct that mistake.

Nothing is final. Somebody said the the ruling of the Supreme Court, a gathering of human beings open to flaws and errors, is irreversible. There have been cases in history, not just in Nigeria, where the judgement of the Supreme Court was reversed.

In 1971 for instance, in the suit filed by Kobina Johnson and other vs Irene Lawanson and other, the Supreme Court reversed it’s earlier judgement in the matter. The Supreme Court set aside its judgment delivered in January 8, 1999 on the ground that, it failed to consider the respondents’ cross–appeal before allowing the appellant’s appeal. The Supreme Court is not infallible, and where a mistake has been made, to maintain its integrity, corrections must be made.

The case of Hope Uzodinma v Philip Umeadi, tests the integrity of the Supreme Court, in the eyes of the people.

What will the court tell us on Monday? What excuse will they use to justify their mistake? Will they uphold themselves as incorruptible or will they appear tainted in the eyes of Nigerians and the world, who are keenly watching what they do regarding this matter?

Reacting to my article on Opera News recently, a lawyer, Somadina Tony Ebubedike, expressed his shame at being a lawyer, when the non lawyers seem to be able to judge cases justly, more than supposed judges, who are supposed to be incorruptible, and the last hope of the common man.

If the courts cannot be trusted to uphold the rights of the people, what becomes of the country? This has become a question on the lips of keen observers, locally and internationally.

A supporter of Uzodinma, while speaking to me on phone, was confident that Uzodinma would emerge victorious, as he said that the matter has been taken care of. I don’t understand what he meant by that. But your guess is as good as mine on what that meant.

Ihedioha supporters and the common man on the street, seems to have lost hope in justice.

Ihedioha himself seems not to bother about the outcome. He put his trust in the legal system, and has tales of his disappointment in the system to tell. Nobody would blame him for losing faith in the system. He just goes about his business, helping the people of Imo State any way he can.

But anything can happen. Some Daniels could still come to justice, shunning whatever may sway decisions against the truth, and stand for the truth. As much as many have lost faith in the system, faith is all we have. Faith that the right thing would be done. Faith that the anti corruption mantra of the Buhari government would be upheld. Faith that our judicial system, will not become a thing of ridicule globally for making judgements that questions their integrity.

There is apprehension right now in the state. The common man wonders what will happen on Monday, 11th day of 2021? There may be some who seem confident of the outcome. Whether the indebtedness of pensioners and civil servants have anything to do with their confidence, as assumed by the layman on the streets, is something we don’t know, but leave it to posterity, who will always judge every man according to his or works, no matter how long it takes.

Can the selfish interest of one man, destroy the reputation of the judicial system of a nation? Many people within and outside the country, are wondering the same thing.

Come Monday, in the people’s eyes, the integrity of the Supreme Court would be put to a test.

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