40 political parties have dragged the Imo State Governor elect, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, to court, EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE, looks at the intrigues
Voting for the 2019 general election ended over two months ago but the election process is far from over as the petitions at Tribunals suggest. Still, while post-election petitions have since become commonplace in the polity, the evolving scenario in Imo State is intriguing.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, winner of the March 9 governorship election in Imo State. He was candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He defeated the candidate of the ruling party in the state, Sen Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as the candidate and in-law of the incumbent governor, Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA). The governor, Rochas Okorocha has been locked out of the APC by stakeholders in the state who enjoy the backing of the national secretariat. Another top contender defeated at the poll was Sen Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
While Ihedioha’s victory came on the back of the division within the APC, a fresh twist is emerging in the state as 40 political parties insist that the PDP flag bearer did not meet the constitutional requirements as stipulated in law to be declared winner.
Some of the political parties that took the PDP governor-elect to court include, AA, APC, APGA, MASS Action Party (AP), African Democratic Party (ADP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), National Conscience Party (NCP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Labour Party and a host of others.
The aggrieved political parties include those who are insistent that the governor elect failed to meet the 2/3 constitutional requirement to be declared winner by INEC.
Granted that the aggrieved parties have the right to seek justice in any court of law, not a few keen political observers of the state, christened Eastern Heartland, aver that the unfolding political drama is nothing short of the biblical story of the ‘voice of Esau but the hand of Jacob.’
To those who hold this school of thought, the 40 political parties some of which are obscure and unknown in the state are mere political appendages flying the kite for some form of settlement. To this group, there are unseen hands behind the scene pushing these parties to distract the in-coming PDP administration.
Interestingly, LEADERSHIP Sunday can report that most of the party candidates urging the Tribunal to upturn the outcome of the polls did not score up to 10 votes in wards/booths across the 27 LGAs of the state.
Reacting however, the publicity secretary of PDP in Imo State, Hon Damian Opara, said that the action of these parties speak volumes of the politics of self-aggrandisement and self-deceit.
He told the LEADERSHIP Sunday, “Who knows these 40 political parties now trying to unruffle feathers? They just want to be noticed and to be settled at the end of the day”
APC, PDP and APGA had dominated the political space in the state during the electioneering. Action AA had emerged on the scene at the twilight of the campaigns through the instrumentality of the out-going governor of the state, Okorocha.
Okorocha who attempted to go against a strong opposition in his party APC, insisted that his son-in-law, Mr Uche Nwosu must succeed him in office. But Nwosu lost.
Nwosu, his APGA counterpart Sen Araraume and Sen Uzodinma of APC have since approached the Election Petition Tribunal alleging irregularities in the declaration of Ihedioha as winner saying it falls short of the constitutional requirements of 2/3 majority in the 27 LGAs of the state.
Aside this, the APC governorship candidate Senator Hope Uzodinma filed his papers claiming victory at the governorship polls despite coming a distant 4th position in the election.
However, speaking to our correspondent, the publicity secretary of AA, Mr FCC Jones denied the allegation that they are behind the 40 smaller parties seeking to upturn the election, stressing that every political party has the right to go to court in order to exercise their fundamental human rights.
Second Republic Politician and an Owerri based businessman, Chief Ihunna Mgbaibeh, argued that the action of the aggrieved politicians is part of the beauty of democracy across the globe.
“That is why the tribunal and the court are there” if you lose an election and feel that justice did not prevail, you go to the tribunal for fair hearing”.
However the action of the 40 political parties angling to dislodge the governor elect seems to be attracting the wrath of the Imo East senatorial district (Owerri zone) whose turn it is to govern the state.
The Owerri zone has been clamouring for the governorship position of the state insisting that it will ensure justice, equity and fairness. The zone known as Imo (East) has only ruled the state for 18 months through the Late Chief Evan Enwerem since the state was created.
This is unlike Orlu (Imo West) that would be completing 16 years of governance through ex-governor Achike Udenwa and the incumbent Rochas Okorocha.
In the same vein Imo North (Okigwe zone) has occupied the seat through the late Chief Sam Mbakwe and ex governor Ikedi Ohakim. They also ruled for eight years as against the 18 months of Owerri zone.
It is against this background that the zone (Owerri) is insisting that what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander and that Peter should not be robbed to pay Paul.
Consequently, the Owerri Peoples Assembly which is a socio-cultural organisation in the state has expressed worry over what it termed “multifarious litigations against the election of the State governor elect, Chief Emeka Ihedioha.
Rising from a meeting of their governing council held at the Oriental Plaza Glass House Secretariat, Ugwu Orji Owerri with a communiqué, the group vehemently condemned the action of some of the individuals.
The communiqué endorsed by the secretary general of the Assembly, Ben Osuagwu observed with regret that those litigations are sponsored by people whose interest is hostile to the interest of Owerri people and Imo people in general.
The group therefore appealed to all the three zones that make up Imo State to persuade these litigants to withdraw all the cases from court and join hands with the governor elect in the interest of rebuilding Imo State.
The members used the forum to endorse the statement and decision of Ihedioha to run an all inclusive government, stressing that the decision if supported would go a long way in moving the state forward beyond her present situation.
They maintained that any Owerri son who by birth is a member of the Owerri Peoples Assembly who has any litigation against the victory of Hon. Ihedioha is taking a hostile action against his people.
The group recalled that a committee was set by the Assembly under the chairmanship of Dr. Pascal Dozie to scrutinise all the governorship candidates of all the political parties in the state with a view to selecting the best candidate for Owerri zone out of all the contestants.
They said that in the end of the thorough scrutiny, Ihedioha was selected and given massive support which led to his victory at the election.
However, the governor elect appears not to be losing any sleep over the deluge of petitions against his victory as he has since inaugurated a 140-member Transition Technical Committee to facilitate his inauguration.
While Ihedioha feels that those challenging his victory are merely crying wolf where there is none, Okorocha in his recent press briefing where he gave an update of political development in the state, expressed optimism that Nwosu would eventually obtain justice in court at the end of the day.
Analysts aver that if the parties have genuine cases, nothing stops them from seeking redress in the Tribunal. However, Imolites who are sure of the candidate they voted for would be confident that victory will come their way at the end of the day.
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