When the German Philosopher, Arthur Schopenhaur made this famous quote, “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self evident”, he probably had Andy Uba in mind. Today, Senator Andy Uba, through courage and determination, garnished with the unflinching support the people of Anambra State in particular and Nigerians in general are freely giving to him, has confirmed Arthur Schopenhaur’s quotation.
It will be recalled that in 2007, Senator Andy Uba contested the governorship election of Anambra state and won landslide. Seventeen days later, the Supreme Court in defiance of the Constitution of Nigeria, told us that a term that started in 2003 had not ended in 2007, and returned Peter Obi to office, who they said, had not completed his term. Following Schopenhauer’s quote, intellectual illiterates in legal profession, haters of truth, and all sort of negative thinkers sought to ridicule Andy Uba. In their puerile ecstasy, they revealed their actual intention; pure fixation arising from political maladjustment. This tiny set of people probably forgot that their noise could not stop a courageous and determined Andy Uba, whose current event-effective representation at the Senate, has shown, was seeking to better the lives of Anamberians.
Seeing that the ruling of the Apex Court against the mandate given to him by the good people of Anambra state will have a negative implication on Nigeria democracy if not reversed; Andy Uba headed for the Supreme Court for the reversal. This time around these tiny minds violently opposed his move. Reasons have emerged that Andy Uba and majority of Nigerians who rightly supported his move to get the Apex court to reverse itself on that decision, were right in that endeavourer. The current Justice Ayo Salami vs NJC crisis could have been avoided if the issue of Oath taking was not misinterpreted by the Apex Court in the first place. It is on record that despite the violent reaction from his tiny political haters, Senator Andy Uba approached the court four times to re-claim his mandate.
Today, posterity has rightly aligned itself to Senator Andy Uba’s foresighted legal struggle to restore his mandate in 2007. It is on record that after the conclusion of Uba’s case, Supreme Court induced staggered election took off. At the moment, Governorship elections in ten states take place outside election date, with the attendant economic and political implication. The staggering of elections may just continue till there is no election date again. The amendment of the Constitution of Nigeria to conform to the ruling of the Apex Court has not solved the problem of Oath Taking. President Goodluck Jonathan’s alleged second term ambition is already generating “Constitutional” controversy, no thanks to the injustice done to Senator Andy Uba in 2007. Now the provision of the Constitution is such that nobody can take Oath of office three times and if President Jonathan contests and wins in 2015, he would have taken Oath of office three times, this is against the spirit of the Constitution. Is it not because Andy Uba was involved that OATH TAKING was assigned four year term by the Supreme Court? What has four year term is MANDATE; it however, expires by 12 noon after four years, from the date a Nation elects to start its political inauguration. In case of Nigeria, it is on May 29. Once term of office has been established, it starts running irrespective of who occupies it -see Carleton v. People, 10 Mich. 259. Because of error of the Court in 2007 in Anambra State, the Oath President Goodluck Jonathan took as President to finish a term that started in 2007 will surely become an issue in 2015. The current legal tussle in Kogi State is one of the fall outs of the injustice against Uba.
SENATOR ANDY UBA POLITICAL PHENOMINOM IN ANAMBRA STATE IS NOW ACCEPTED AS SELF EVIDENT.
There is a lot of similarity between the political courage of Andy Uba and Abraham Lincoln of United States of America. Both have the belief that no matter the obstacle, the well being of the people should be paramount in the mind of politicians with conscience. The only difference is that Andy Uba has never lost a real election since 2007 when he first appeared in the political scene. He won nomination as the PDP gubernatorial candidate in 2007 election. He went ahead and won the election proper. The leadership of PDP under Vincent Ogbulafor elected to shift the goal post in the middle of the game by denying Andy Uba the his right to fly the flag of PDP as custodian of the party’s mandate, in line with the convention of the party. Uba fought the apparent injustice from Ogbulafor led PDP to which they stood their ground. Just two weeks to the governorship election, Uba decided to join Labour Party [LP] that has no single structure in Anambra State, to prove a point.
Though he took fourth position eventually, but the political statement he made by contesting against all odds left his political enemies jittery in the State because the difference in votes score between APGA, ACN, PDP and LP was too close to call. Considering that Andy Uba took fourth position despite his late entry to the political ring, under an unknown party in the State, it became obvious that in a real contest, he will get the support of the good people of Anambra State, no matter the party he pitches his tent with.
Knowing full well that the good people of Anambra State prefer him to any other candidate in any election, in the State, in 2011, he offered himself for election to represent Anambra South Senatorial zone as a senator. The people of the zone did not hesitate in giving him their mandate. He won the election effortlessly. Surprisingly, seven months into his effective representation, the Appeal court sitting in Enugu annulled his election. The reasons given by the court for the annulment belatedly came after the 60 days constitutionally allotted for that had elapsed. His challenger, Chuma Nzeribe had gone to court on the ground that there was irregularities in some wards that make up Anambra South Senatorial Zone. The court instead of restricting its judgment to what Chuma requested elected to act as Father Christmas by awarding Chuma Nzeribe what he did not ask for- the annulment of the whole election.
In line with his belief in the rule of law and due process, Andy Uba sought the Certified True Copy [CTC] of the judgment from the court to establish his position, they refused him. When his appeal for the release of the document was not heeded in view of the time constraint, he petitioned National Judicial Council [NJC] over the issue and delay. Fearing that bureaucracy could affect the petition, he went back to the court on January 29, 2012, to seek the reversal of the judgment in line with the practice of the court. These are sound legal authorities Senator Andy Uba cited in an attempt to reverse the Father Christmas ruling: The Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Akinbobola v PillsonFisko Ltd (1992), where the Hon Justice Kawu held “If a court makes an order which it has no jurisdiction to make, it has jurisdiction to set it aside.” Senator Andy Uba further reinforced his claim with Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Akpo v Hakeem-Habeeb , wherein Justice Karibi White held “the court has no jurisdiction to consider a relief not claimed by either party and therefore can’t make any valid order in respect of such relief”. He went further to cite JIWUL v Dimlog 9 NWLR (part824) 145 at178, where justice of the Appeal Court, justice Nzeakor held “it is my respectful view that a court of justice can only grant relief sought or incident to relief….it has no jurisdiction to consider, not to mention, to grant a relief not sought for”.
Funnily, on the February 25, 2012, a five justice panel of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, re-affirmed its order nullifying Mr. Uba’s election’ as senator and order that a fresh election be held within 90days. The court belatedly advanced reasons for its earlier ruling of December 22, 2011 nullifying Mr. Uba’s election as senator in the April 2011 elections. Just when the appeal court thought it has put its Father Christmas judgment to rest, Senator Uba came up with a joker- he put forward a petition to the fact that the reason given by the court for nullifying his election was given outside the Constitutionally stipulated period, that is 60 days, the tribunal judgment affirming his election should be sustained instead. Uba’s petition was in deference to earlier Supreme Court ruling on the same issue in Ikedi Ohakim vs Rochas Okorocha and Emmanuel Uduaghan vs Great Ogboru respectively.
Here is the report of Supreme Court ruling in Uduaghan case; Justice Tanko Mohammed gave the same reasons for upholding the election of Uduaghan. He said the Appeal Court was wrong for giving judgment and delaying its reasons beyond the 60 days stipulated in the Constitution. He said: “It is important for court to give reasons for judgment. It has no power to defer reason for judgment to a later date as judgment and reasons must be given at the same time. “There is no valid judgment worthy of appeal. I declare that the judgment of the Court of Appeal given without reasons is null and void. It amounts to a nullity. I sustain the objection of the third Respondent, the appeal is accordingly struck out.” Having nullified the Appeal Court judgment, the apex court affirmed the subsisting judgments of the State Governorship Election Tribunal which upheld the victory of the governors. Section 285(7) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that: “An appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or Court of Appeal in an election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of the delivery of judgment of the tribunal or Court of Appeal.
On March 14 2012, Justice Abdulkadir Jega ruled that the 60 days stipulated for the disposal of election petition matters in Section 285 Sub section 7 of the Constitution has elapsed. Jega said Sundays, public holidays and court vacations are included in the 60 days and no court has the power to extend the allotted time. Here is the grouse of Falana against a clear attempt by the Acting President of Court of Appeal to keep the integrity of the Appeal court intact by doing the right thing — “Last December, the Court of Appeal holden at Enugu, annulled Dr. Andy Uba’s election to the Senate and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a rerun election within 90 days. At the instance of one of the parties, the Acting President of the Court of Appeal set up another panel of the court to rehear the case. Even though the 60- day mandatory period had expired at the material time, the panel sat, suspended the order on INEC to conduct the rerun election and adjourned sine die for “judgment”. —. The question here is, has Abdulkadir Jega led Appeal Court Pyrrhic victory against Senator Andy Uba’s just quest to right the wrong, not brought it in conflict with the ruling of the Apex Court as contained above? By winning the re-run election, Uba has proved to all that he is a political asset in Anambra State.
Senator Andy Uba all along knew that the good people of Anambra South will queue behind him in the re-run election, but he elected to deepen democracy through his legal option. Before the re-run election however, the government of Anambra State, had started campaign to oust Uba in the election. They deploy both the State owned Television and Radio Stations to maximum effect. Since it is APGA State, Senator Andy Uba was denied access to campaign in these media. Because of the grass-root support Andy enjoys in the Senatorial zone, the people of the zone defied APGA led government in the State to vote Senator Andy Uba back to office. In-fact, for three months, Peter Obi virtually moved government house to Anambra South just to defeat Uba who the people of the zone had elected to cast their vote for.
As 2014 governorship approaches, only Senator Andy Uba can defeat himself by not contesting the election. If he decides to vie for the governorship election, the good people of Anambra State will surely queue behind him. In-fact, he will win the 2014 governorship election landslide should he run. The people of the State love him; they showed it in 2007, April 9, 2011 and March 21, 2012. They will repeat it in 2014.
Information/Media Management Consultant & Political Researcher
Wrote in from Garki-Abuja