The judgment of the Supreme Court upholding the election of Godwin Obaseki as Edo State governor dealtâ€Ž a fatal blow to the ambition of Osagie Ize-Iyamu to rule the state, writes Segun James
After a gallant battle which ended at the Supreme Court last week, the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate in Edo, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, finally accepted reality and congratulated the governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Forâ€Ž someone who had worked for government for so long, many now wonder what life will look like for him outside government. Welcome to the world of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a politician who has been in the corridor of power in Edo state since the advent of the fourth republic and has been part and parcel of several uninspiring governments in the state.
After the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Godwin Obaseki the winner of the election, Ize-Iyamu put his hope on the electoral tribunal to overturn the commission’s declaration. He assembled a team of lawyers who filed a petition on his behalf seeking to nullify Obaseki’s election.
However, his hope of becoming the governor through a judicial pronouncement was dashed when on April 14, the Edo state Election Petition Tribunal ruled in favour of INEC and Obaseki.â€Ž
The pastor, however, refused to lose hope. He quickly caused his lawyers to file an appeal against the tribunal’s verdict. Little did he know then that the appeal would also result come to nothing.
On June 9th, the Appeal Court sitting in Benin dismissed his appeal. It upheld the decision of the tribunal and affirmed the election of Obaseki.
The five-man panel led by Justice M.B Dongban-Mensem, in a unanimous decision, described Ize-Iyamuâ€™s appeal as unmeritorious.
The court agreed with the Edo state Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Ahmed Badamasi which returned Obaseki as governor of Edo state, saying that Ize-Iyamu and the PDP failed to prove before the trial court why Obasekiâ€™s victory should be upturned. Other members of the panel are Justices S. Tom Yakub, M.O. Bolaji-Yusuf, U.A. Ogakwu and Mohammed Mustapha.
Contrary to claim by Ize-Iyamu and his loyalists that Obaseki was unpopular in Edo, the appeal court’s judgment elicited thunderous celebration in Benin City on the day it was delivered.
After the court of appeal judgment, many of Ize-Iyamu’s followers became weary but he remained undaunted and headed for the Supreme Court. But still he lost. That was when reality dawned on him.
In upholding the INEC’s declaration of Obaseki as the person who won the election, the apex court held that the appeal lacked merit and consequently dismissed it.
Justice Inyang Okoro, who read the lead judgment said: “After a careful consideration of all the arguments and processes filed by parties in this matter, I am of the firm view that this appeal is devoid of merit and deserves an order of dismissal and accordingly the appeal is hereby dismissed.”
That decision threw the PDP’s camp in Edo into mourning. But in a rare show of the spirit of sportsmanship, Ize-Iyamu put a call through to Obaseki and congratulated him. Commendable as that was, many are of the view that he would have done himself a greater favour if he had accepted the results of the election as declared by INEC and saved himself the trouble of going to courts.
An elated Obaseki, who was in Lagos on a retreat for the state’s top civil servants described the Supreme Court’s decision as a confirmation of the truth. He repeated his famous quote: “One thing you must always know is that the truth never changes.”
Coincidentally, his mentor and immediate predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole was with him. The former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress expressed the hope that Ize-Iyamu and his co-travellers would eventually accept the truth,”‘as declared by INEC now that the tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have all said it”, he added.
In Benin, the people received the ape court’s decision with joy as they trooped to the streets of Benin in their thousand to celebrate with Obaseki. The judgment, they said, would now allow the governor to focus squarely on developing the state based on the promises he made to the people.
But for Ize-Iyamu, this is not the best of times politically. For a man who has been everywhere in the corridor of power in the state, his humbling by Obaseki may indeed be the nail that seals his political coffin.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu emerged as Peoples Democratic Party flag-bearer for the Edo state gubernatorial during a controversial primaries that saw the two factions of the party presenting different candidates. He was born in Benin City on the 21 June 1962 to late Chief R.O. Ize-Iyamu (Esogban of Benin) and late Mrs. Magdalene Ize-Iyamu nee Obasohan. He is from Iguododo, Orhionmwon local government area of the state.
– He attended St. Joseph Primary School and Ebenezer Nursery and Primary School in Benin City. He had his Secondary education at Edo College the premier secondary school in Edo State and passed out with grade I in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations. He attended the University of Benin where he graduated with an LLB (Hons) and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos where he bagged the Bachelor of Law (BL).
Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and former Chief of Staff and Secretary to Edo State Government.
He was once a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and he was also the National Vice Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He returned to the PDP, his initial party before joining the APC.
He was the Director General of Adams Oshiomholeâ€™s Campaign Organisation when the later ran for the state’s governorship for the second term. Ize-Iyamu also served as the Coordinator of Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation in the state.
He had been a politician all his working life. He was at a time, the the Chief of Staff to a former governor of Edo state, Chief Lucky Igbinedion. He was also appointed Secretary to the State Government under Adams Oshiomhole. But surprisingly, he defected to the PDP when he fell out with Oshiomhole over his gubernatorial ambition.
At the rally at which he declared his move to the PDP, Ize-Iyamu, urged the people of Edo state to forgive him for helping Oshiomhole to win the state’s governorship election in 2007 under the Action Congress of Nigeria umbrella.
Among others, he claimed that his decision to leave the APC for the PDP, was because the governor failed to keep to his promise to construct the road leading to his community as well as the failure to tackle erosion in the area.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu, however, said that his apology was necessary because the governor had turned truth upside town. â€œEdo people should forgive me for being one of those in the forefront that brought Mr. Oshiomhole to be the governor of the state. We now know who he is. Therefore, in the coming elections, Edo people should not repeat the mistake of the past.
â€œWhen I remember how we brought in Oshiomhole to contest the 2007 governorship election, I weep because we brought in a bad thing.â€
Many believe that his penchant for jumping from one party to another is one his greatest undoing.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu is married to Pastor (Dr) Idia Ize-Iyamu, a Consultant Orthodontist with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital and a Senior Lecturer in the University of Benin. They are blessed with four children.
â€ŽBut in a rare show of the spirit of sportsmanship, Ize-Iyamu put a call through to Obaseki and congratulated him. Commendable as that was, many are of the views that he would have done himself a greater favour if he had accepted the results of the election as declared by INEC and saved himself the trouble of going to courts.