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Anambra North senatorial seat and endless litigations
SINCE the return of democracy in 1999, Anambra State has remained a theatre of political absurdities and experiments, mostly instigated and engineered from outside state in connivance with some political vampires within the state that are being used as political pawns in the chessboard.
In Anambra North zone, the situation has not been different, as the political contest for the zone’s senatorial seat since 2007 has always thrown up a lot of political and legal controversies, tussles and intrigues among the contenders of the seat on different political parties platforms, which had always left one man as a victimized and sacrificial lamb.
In 2007, Chief Alphonsus Ubanesse Igbeke, who was the candidate of All Nigeria People Party (ANPP), won the Anambra North senatorial election, but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrongly declared her opponent, Senator Joy Emordi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the winner of the election and issued her with the Certificate of Return.
For over three years, Senator Igbeke was in court challenging Emordi’s election.He finally got victory when the Appeal Court sitting in Enugu declared him (Igbeke) the rightful winner of the election. But even with the judgment which was constitutionally supposed to mark the end of the legal tussle over who won election into the seat, the leadership of the Senate, in connivance with some forces, refused to swear Igbeke in as senator-elect for Anambra North. It took public outcry and judiciary outburst for the Senate leadership to cave in and swear Igbeke in. This was after Emodi had illegally occupied the seat and collected salaries and allowances for more three years.
Before then, the people of Anambra North had voted for Igbeke, who was a philanthropist per excellence, in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial primaries in 1999 where he defeated the late former Senate President, Senator Chuba Okadigbo, but was pressured and appealed to by Chief Solomon Lar, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and others to step down for late Okadigbo. He was later elected to represent Anambra East/West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives between 1999-2003.
Back on the familiar turf again in 2011, Senator Igbeke contested the PDP senatorial primaries for Anambra North zone and won the election, having polled the highest votes. His victory in the primary was later challenged in court by other acclaimed contestants, Prince John Emeka and Mrs Margery Okadigbo. Ruling on the matter, Justice Kafarati of Federal High Court on March 17, 2011 confirmed Igbeke the authentic candidate of PDP for the election. With this judgment, Igbeke contested the senatorial election, won, and was issued a Certificate of Return by the INEC as the PDP senator-elect for Anambra North zone
But curiously and surprisingly, Igbeke was denied swearing-in on the floor of the Senate chamber by the Senate leadership on a flimsy excuse. This was after he has done all the necessary clearance and issued with a State Security Service (SSS) tag and accommodation.The reason adduced by the Senate leadership was that there was a letter from INEC saying that Igbeke was issued Certificate of Return without considering notice of appeal and stay of execution. This is when there was no court order or injunction stopping Igbeke from being sworn-in. This is even when the 2010 Electoral Act provided that once Certificate of Return is issued to a declared winner of an election, such winner should be sworn-in.
But having not helped matters in the developments was the judiciary that complicated the matter, following the controversial judgment delivered by the Appeal Court in December last year declaring Mrs. Margery Okadigbo the rightful candidate of the PDP for the election and ordering the Senate to swear her in, a judgment that has been criticised by many, especially the people of the zone, for throwing up more questions than answers.
Also putting more question marks on the judgment of the Appeal Court on the matter is the allegation that the 183-page document containing affidavits of facts purported to have been sworn to at the Registry of the Otuocha Judicial Division of Anambra State High Court which the Appeal Court relied on to deliver its judgment in favour of Okadigbo was forged.Mrs. E N Ezeanyika, the Assistant Registrar of the High Court Registry, Otuocha, Anambra Judicial Division the supposed originator of the documents, has since distanced the Registry from it because according her, the documents bear no receipt numbers that will enable one trace the authenticity.
Mrs Okadigbo having been invited by the police authorities investigating the matter had quickly dragged the police to court for trampling on her fundamental rights. But such action should not deter or stop the police from investigating the forgery allegation, not minding whose ox is gored, because it is a criminal offence punishable under law.
With the matter in the domain of the Supreme Court now, all eyes are on the justices of the Apex Court to do justice in the matter, for Anambra North has remained the only senatorial zone in the country today that has no representation in the 7th National Assembly for more than a year now. Nigerians, especially the people of the zone know the person they voted for and the reliefs sought by the contending parties in the matter, but are worried with the rumour already doing the rounds that two top government officials in the Presidency are already mounting pressure on the Apex Court to give judgment in favour of a particular person that is in their good book.
Dr Ozute wrote in from Onitsha, Anambra State.Share