By Ogu Bundu Nwadike, M.A
The current heat in the polity of Imo State could have any and many causes. Some causes may be personal between and among political parties, politicians, and political office holders, while some causes may be as a result of official breaches of rules and regulations by unscrupulous politicians.
There must be cause(s) of the clash and conflict between Senator Rochas Okorocha, APC, representing Imo West Senatorial District in the Senate, and Senator Hope Uzodimma, who was made governor by the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020.
One of the critical causes of the current socio-political troubles in Imo State must not be unconnected with the way and manner both Senator Rochas Okorocha and Senator Hope Uzodimma emerged to occupy the offices they are occupying.
In retrospection, it may be necessary to remind that both politicians were products of controversial court rulings, whereby knowledgeable members of the society cried outrage at the rulings that gave them victory and offices they occupy.
Recall that it required a Court order before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the Certificate of Return to Senator Rochas Okorocha, after the 2019 general elections into the Senate.
That was sequel to the evidences of heinous electoral irregularities and malpractices orchestrated and perpetrated by the All Progressives Congress APC candidate for Imo West (Orlu Zone) Senatorial District, then Owelle Rochas Okorocha to secure victory.
Not a few pundits and analysts argued then that it was wrong for the Court to have granted Okorocha’s prayers to be declared winner of the election and handed the Certificate of Return.
They stressed that a bad precedence had been set, ennobling the dangerous act of politicians and contestants in elections deploying crass duress, threats, intimidations, and harassments with weapons of all sorts upon electoral officials to secure undeserved victories in elections.
On the other hand, the emergence of Senator Hope Uzodimma as the governor of Imo State was vide an order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which in spite of ample impeccable evidences of monumental fraud and forgery, still granted the prayers of the still contentious, controversial and contradicted APC candidate who polled votes that placed him in the ignoble fourth position of the table.
That judgement, like Hon. Justice Centus Nweze JSC, rightly prognosticated, has continued to haunt the Nigeria nation and its judiciary since thereafter.
The jurist, who gave the only dissenting judgement, had stated in the course of reacting to the final judgement that the judgement of the Apex Court on the 2019 Imo governorship election will haunt Nigeria for a long time. He has turned out to be a genuine prophet.
In corroborating the jurist’s vision, some reputable pundits and analysts have argued that the system and practice of politicians and contestants in elections, going to courts to purchase victory, which they couldn’t secure by popular votes at the polling units, is a criminal act which ought not to be accorded impetus by the Courts of the land.
The unending face-off, bickerings and bantering by Governor Uzodimma and Ex-Governor Okorocha has been attributed to the fact that they allegedly bought their victories at the Courts.
Much as that is arguably open to debate and discussion, the link between the behaviour of the two politicians that are occupying very high offices and the ways and manners they got their offices can’t be undermined or overlooked.
The level of incompetence that the duo have displayed so far in their respective offices can only be expected from people that got into office by unorthodox ways as the pressuring, polluting, coercing and compelling of judicial officials to sell to them favourable judgements that ordinarily they shouldn’t have had any business obtaining.
The idea is that when these desperados for unmerited mandates and undeserved power spend financial fortunes to get into political offices that they didn’t qualify to occupy ab initio, they end up being preoccupied with massive looting of public money to recoup their huge war chests expended in the election.
Consequently, that system has been pencilled down as a major bane of the political development of the country in regard to the conducted of free, fair and credible elections.
There are big lessons that the system of the judiciary manufacturing candidates, and producing winners in elections in unconvincing circumstances has to teach politicians and statutory organs of government that see to elections at all levels in the country.
Some of the lessons may be learned from the observable poor character and conduct of a large number of unpopular politicians that rely on judiciary proclamations for the accomplishment of their sinister motives of winning elections by all negative means and at all nefarious costs.
It is pertinent and relevant to highlight the fact that the two main political actors in this narrative, Senators Okorocha and Uzodimma, in their display of high grade lawlessness and impunity, invaded Okigwe Zone in the not too distant past and strove extra hard to impose their choices of candidates for the Imo North (Okigwe Zone) Senatorial bye-election, which has remained inconclusive till date, about three months after the bye-election was conducted on December 5, 2020.
While Senator Okorocha was hell bent at imposing his fellow political godfather, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, on the good people of Okigwe Zone, Senator Uzodimma was hell bent at imposing his political godson, Mr. Frank Ibezim, on Okigwe Zone people.
Interestingly, while they were struggling to have their stooges imposed on the people, the High Courts, the Court of Appeal, and even the Supreme Court kept keeping justice on its head, insisting that neither Senator Ifeanyi Araraume nor Mr. Frank Ibezim was qualified to contest in the bye-election.
At this moment, the matter is at the Supreme Court, where final judgement is awaited on whether Mr. Frank Ibezim, who had been severally slammed with the judgement of committing perjury by furnishing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with an assortment of fake academic certificates, still qualifies to be the APC candidate in the bye-election.
As it is now, all ears and eyes are focused on the judiciary to hear and see whether the Apex Court will uphold the judgement of justice delivered by the lower Courts or it’ll undermine the good judgement to appease unpopular godfathers and godsons on who represents Okigwe Zone at the Senate.
Whatever happens, as the cognate practice of democracy matures into near half a century in Nigeria, it’s expected that certain unedifying systems and practices that characterized the democracy in its teething period would be replaced with improved reliable alternatives. Forward ever, backwards never!