by Shaka Momodu
I watched a video clip of the serially shamed Justice Okon Abang-imposed candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim on YouTube and WhatsAPP, exultantly confessing his spiteful and treacherous conduct that ultimately did his party in, in the just concluded Ondo State governorship election. While some of us were not particularly surprised by the revelations in his voluntary confession since there was always that air of suspicion about his intention, and the motivation behind his claim to be the standard-bearer of the PDP, having emerged as so in a phoney primary in Ibadan, I was taken aback by his bare-faced audacity, chest-thumping and open confession of treachery against his own party.
According to him, it was all planned albeit “deliberately” to undermine his party’s chances in winning the election. His sense of gleeful accomplishment and triumph marks a disturbing chapter in the country’s descent into moral chaos, nay a perilous sinkhole. After he lost at the courts, he said: “Election will be held on Saturday, Mimiko is just wasting his time.” With what appeared to be an unmistakable foreknowledge of the election’s outcome, he declared with celestial triumph, “He is gone. There is nothing he can do about it.” He went on and on about his hitherto ulterior motive: “I decided to deliberately lock him for about three weeks, take him outside the state to destabilise him in his handing over notes and now, I released him to come over to the state for two days and he is dancing naked.” What a devious politician! Ibrahim followed his depraved confession with tweets, soliciting votes for Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Akeredolu must be wary of Ibrahim’s friendship, he is hardly the kind of person to feel safe in his company. He should be under no illusion that Ibrahim is his friend. Treachery is treachery, no matter the gloss put on it.
I have gone through Ibrahim’s tweets and watched the video clip several times to try to decipher and situate the mentality behind this behaviour. Far from being an expert, I can only hazard guesses. But beyond that, I know for sure that many well-meaning Nigerians would be totally dumbstruck by Ibrahim’s public claim that he deliberately locked up Mimiko/Jegede and by extension the PDP for three weeks to destablise and distract them from the campaigns and only released them two days to the election. In other words, it was all a game by Ibrahim and Ali Modu Sheriff.
They carefully employed the services of the disgraced Justice Okon Abang in this devilish conspiracy to undermine any chance of the PDP winning the election. It is truly frightening that the institutions of state which allowed themselves to be used have been worsted by Ibrahim’s public confession. To put it mildly, I am ashamed of Justice Abang’s role in this game. While I am not a lawyer, even the “unlearned” ones could see the foolishness and stupidity of some of the pronouncements that have come out of Abang’s court. I wonder how he felt watching Ibrahim’s public boasts that he deliberately did all the nonsense to destablise and distract his party from the task in hand.
The language used to label his ridiculous interpretation of the law and ultimately his crass disregard for the ends of justice by the Appeal Court speaks volumes about the danger he now poses to the ordinary people who will have the misfortune of facing him in court. There can be no doubt at least going by the pronouncements of the Appeal Court, sentiments rather than adherence to the letter of the law drive or influence Abang’s weird interpretation of the law, and that the ends of justice only measure as footnotes on his scale of the elements of justice. So the blindfolded symbol of justice is not really blind in Abang’s court. It’s coiled up on one eye to see not the evidence but the plaintiff or the defendant. Abang has gradually attained public stature not for the brilliance or the logic of his jurisprudence, but for his shallow legal mind. His notoriety is now such that, he even issues threats to other courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction.
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, who chaired the Appeal Court panel that thwarted Abang’s order against Jegede had harsh words for him when setting aside his two key decisions that empowered Ibrahim on his disruptive mission. Justice Saulawa described the decisions as “highly misplaced and most fraudulent”. He resolved all the seven issues formulated for determination in favour of Jegede, describing the failure of Abang to grant fair hearing to Jegede who was not a party to the suit before the Federal High Court as a “violent attitudinal disposition to the rule of law”.
He added that the judge committed a “grave error by violating the principles of natural justice”, which he said required all parties that could be affected by an order of court to be heard before judgment was delivered.
Another member of the panel, Justice George Mbaba, who read the lead judgment on Makarfi’s appeal, also described Justice Abang’s judgment, as a “charade and fraud”.
Justice Mbaba ruled, “The entire proceedings leading to the judgment delivered on June 29, 2016, were, in my view, a fraud and it was intended to defraud the appellants. It appeared to be arranged by the same people who paraded as the plaintiffs and the defendants. The first to ninth respondents (Poroye and others) did not have a proper course of action.” He noted that Justice Abang was “a willing party to achieve an ignoble goal”. On Abang, fellow Nigerians, it’s needless to say more.
But won’t there be punishment for those people who paraded themselves as the defendants and as counsel for the defence? The Appeal Court went as far as describing their conduct as fraudulent, intended to defraud the appellants. The question is, who arranged the scam? The PDP should petition the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the conduct of those lawyers and let debarment be on the cards for that professional and ethical misconduct.
On INEC, I hate to sound like a broken record but it’s worth restating that with this shamed body presiding over the conduct of elections, there is no way we can have free, fair and credible elections in this country. It appears the leadership of this INEC has its allegiance firmly at the feet of those who appointed them and is therefore not interested in defending the sanctity of the electoral process. The sanctity and supremeness of the will of the people in the estimation of Yakubu Mahmud and his leadership count for nothing.
INEC, going by its record so far has become the greatest danger to our democracy. It does not believe in fairness to all concerned. A biased umpire cannot be trusted to conduct a free, fair and credible election. Its disgraceful and shameful conspiratorial role to undermine one party and give an unfair advantage to the other party in the Ondo governorship election has further shaken confidence in the shamed electoral body’s neutrality in elections.
For the avoidance of doubt, INEC caused the fiasco when it yielded to pressure from the establishment as well as Ibrahim’s tactics of blackmail and subterfuge to replace Jegede with him. Was it not safer to have left Jegede’s name until the Ibrahim fraud ran out of life in the courts? As for Modu Sheriff, he has a ruthless determination to succeed in accomplishing his assignment: Destroy the PDP.
Fayemi, Jammeh unlike Jonathan
A sad orchestra is playing out in The Gambia. The latest news is that President Yahaya Jammeh has rejected the election results that saw his defeat in the recent presidential election, one week after he called his opponent to concede and congratulate him on his victory. What has changed? Well, typical of the black man’s love of power, the man has changed his mind. He now claims the election was marred by irregularities and therefore wants a fresh vote.
But he has soul mates here in Nigeria. Recall that former Ekiti State governor and now the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi behaved exactly like Jammeh when he lost his governorship re-election bid in 2014. Days after congratulating Ayo Fayose, the winner of the election, Fayemi and his party, the then ACN, started questioning the result. They went on a fishing expedition, looking for evidence to discredit the result. They found a tape that was of doubtful relevance as to why the people rejected him.
Today, he is a minister in a government that defeated the then incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan who had the grace to concede defeat and ensured a smooth transfer of power to the winner, Muhammadu Buhari who incidentally in all previous contests refused to concede defeat even when it was crystal clear that the results were credible.
While Jonathan might not have been the first African president to concede defeat, he rekindled hope after a long lull in statesmanship. The circumstances of his concession were certainly remarkable – he called Buhari to concede and to congratulate him before the final tally of the votes. We must honour that always, no matter the politics at play. Imagine the turmoil and bloodshed that would have followed if he had rejected the results.
In Ghana, President John Mahama has just conceded defeat, setting the stage for an orderly transfer of power to the opposition. Clearly, Jonathan and Mahama’s statesmanlike conduct has set them apart from Jammeh, Buhari and Fayemi.
- This Best Outside Opinion was written by Shaka Momodu/Thisday