By Malam Isah Ibn Mohammed
This week, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the removal of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In doing so, the court relied on a petition written from his ward.Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Jabi, gave the order suspending Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the APC, premising his ruling on a farcical November 2, 2019 resolution of the Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State where the amiable APC national chairman comes from. Justice Senchi held, quite incredulously, that Oshiomhole could not continue to function as the APC national chairman when he had been suspended by his ward. He ordered him to stop parading himself as the APC national chairman, and ordered the party to deny him access to the national secretariat.
This is, to be sure, a mockery of our democracy. The removal of the national champion of any party is a serious affair and thankfully, the ruling party, like any serious political organization, has laid down procedures in its constitution by which the national chairman can be removed. Obviously, this goes beyond the question whether or not there is a vote of confidence from his ward, or even local government. But the authors of the current impasse clearly circumvented those process for their selfish motives. We have certainly travelled this road before and it must be stated in unmistakable terms that Nigeria does not need another Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) scenario where the judiciary would be used to truncate popular will, descending into the political arena and callously desecrating its hallowed status. Arthur Nzeribe and his group had their way in the aftermath of the June 12, 1993 election which marked a watershed in Nigeria’s history, but the country paid for it with severe costs in human lives and material resources, and anarchy and lawlessness reigned supreme. A situation where some people believe that they can manipulate and abuse the judiciary at will in pursuit of their primordial interests does not augur well for Nigeria’s fledgling democracy. It must be discouraged with all the legal and political resources at the country’s disposal. This anarchical tendency must be dispensed with if the country’s democracy is not to be imperilled, aborted at midnight by lawless individuals.
Thankfully, another court of competent jurisdiction stepped in to arrest the drift, setting aside the purported removal of the valiant, no-nonsence chairman whose record of activism and social engineering the Lilliputian clown in Edo cannot match in multiple lifetimes. Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa, sitting at the Federal High Court in Kano on Thursday, voided the suspension of Oshiomhole as a member of the APC.He also held that the Independent National Electoral Commission should not recognise anybody, except Oshiomhole, as the APC national chairman. Justice Lewis-Allagoa held, quite rightly, that the November 2, 2019 “purported resolution of the Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area, Edo State APC,” suspending Oshiomhole as a member of the APC was of no effect. Since that ruling, the camp of anarchists has been thrown into disarray. The coup plot has unravelled and it’s authors unmasked for the whole world to see and for posterity to judge. Very harshly.
It is important to ask at this point: what really does the governor of Edo State and his co-travellers, including a minister (as the APC boss alleged) really want? Governor Godwin Obaseki spends substantial minutes that should have been devoted to governance enthusing and exulting in the fact that he is the governor of Edo State, as if anyone disputed that fact with him, and as if to suggest that he is still overawed by his position, forgetting that power and all that comes with it is transient. He has deprecated, denounced and feminised his predecessor on countless occasions and is in fact on record vowing to deal ruthlessly with him. Apparently, Governor Obaseki’s insecurities and anxieties are bursting forth despite the veneer of bravado and pretended dirty. Yet, try hard as he might, he will never be able to obliterate the fact that Oshiomhole played a huge role in his emergence as governor. Sadly, he has now connived with some shady characters to remove Oshiomhole through the back door. As a matter of fact, he adopted a triumphant tone when news of the illegal removal became public, rationalising clear illegality. The purported removal of Oshiomhole is a crude assault on due process and the laws of the land. It is a trampling on fair hearing, a political cum judicial coup and an attempt to orchestrate chaos and anarchy in the ruling party, apparently with a view to profiting from the confusion therefrom. It will not and cannot stand.
Now, a golden opportunity presents itself to ask judiciary to stay within its hallowed bounds and not meddle in the internal affairs of political parties. As a Yoruba proverb aptly says: “What is befitting has no other name: a rope does not befit the neck of a fowl.” The judiciary must play by the rules; it must not serve as accomplices in the machinations of moral dwarfs and intellectual frauds resorting to underhand tactics in the face of impending failures. It must steer clear of politicians with doubtful intentions and sinister objectives rushing to the courts to obtain devious rulings predicated on frivolous applications. It must stand up to be counted even in troublous times. Court injunctions should not continue to be used as instruments of political warfare. Every member of APC should condemn the coup against Oshiomhiole; there should be no sitting on the fence. It is Oshiomhole today but it may be anybody else tomorrow. Surely, even Governor Obaseki himself would be outraged if a group of charlatans suddenly woke up and obtained a court injunction suspending him from office, just because they do not like his guts. Who knows, some people might even go to the president’s ward to obtain an injunction removing him from office! Evil cannot be called by any other name.