Saturday, 24 November 2012 00:00
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Questions Oshiomhole must answer

THE man died who keeps silence in the face of tyranny. This phrase, a very unique one is taken from the master piece: 'The Man Died' written by our Nobel laureate and literature guru, Professor Wole Soyinka.

I had decided to keep silent since the July 14 Governorship election in Edo State not because I am afraid of death, but because I decided to adopt the style of late Cicero of Agodi, Chief Bola Ige, when during the reign of Nigeria's late maximum leader and dictator, General Sani Abacha, he said he does not talk to the deaf. He was responding to a journalist's question on why he had not made any comment on the many atrocities Abacha was committing at the time.

However, my patriotic instinct was awakened a few weeks ago, when a friend of mine in a telephone conversation, asked me if everybody in the state has been blindfolded and taken in by the makosa or should I say ekassa dance of the present sole administrator of the state, the diminutive looking individual (not my words but those of Professor Eddy Eragbe during the governor's swearing in ceremony on November 12,2012). I use the word diminutive not derogatorily but in the actual sense of it even at the risk of being accuse, of describing an elected and siting governor as diminutive.

I heard on Monday 29th, October 2012 that the lackluster Edo State House of Assembly had dissolved the Edo State Local Government Transition Committees, months after a State High Court Judge sitting in Ekpoma had declared them illegal. The decision by the House of Assembly to become alive to its responsibility is a cosmic relief to me.

This is because most members of the house had dissipated so much energy since their inauguration in June 2011 trying to justify the illegality perpetuated by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in retaining the dissolved Local Government  Transition Committees, before and even after the Ekpoma High Court ruling.

However, it is good and refreshing that the House of Assembly has finally woken up from its slumber and decided that it is better late than never. I hope this is the beginning of a deliberate attempt of the house to assume its constitutional mandate of being a check on the executive rather than being a stooge of the executive.

A senior in the journalism profession, Dr. Tonnie Iredia made an interesting point in his article "Using the Judiciary to Win Election in Nigeria published on page 18 of the Sunday Vanguard of October 21, 2012. In that article, he wrote in paragraph three: "But to assume that all will be well as soon as Justice Muktar took over the mantle of leadership of the judiciary is rather simplistic. This is because there have always been and there still are many judges in Nigeria who are less man worthy".

Less than 48 hours after the piece was published, the National Judicial Council (NJC) announced the dissolution of the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal headed by Justice Sulema Ambrusa. The NTA 9pm network news through which the announcement was made said the NJC took the decision based on a petition by some lawyers acting for the PDP Governorship Candidate in the July If" election, General Charles Airhiavbere rtd., alleging that the panel had been compromised and they had therefore lost confidence in it. Consequently, the announcement said a new three-man Tribunal had been reconstituted.

Coincidentally, Dele Sobowale in his column "frankly speaking" published on page 17 in the same Sunday Vanguard of October 21, 2012 wrote in the last paragraph titled "Judicial Murders" and Nigeria Politics-4: "One Election Tribunal Justice has dismissed virtually all cases before him on technicalities.

For how long must justice be hostage to Technicalities?" Dr. Iredia and Mr. Sobowale spoke the minds of millions of Nigerians who feel that the nation's judiciary has performed below expectations contrary to their judicial oath of office to be courageous and unbiased umpires.

One must, however, with all sincerity commend the sterling qualities and strong courage displayed by the ChiefJustice of Nigeria and Chairman of the NJC, Justice Mariam Aloma Muktar and the NJC by dissolving the former Edo Election Tribunal. This is against the background that the supporters and close aides of Governor Adams Oshiomhole and even some PDP members have never failed to impress it on those who cared to listen that President Goodluck Jonathan who they claim has a soft spot for the Comrade Governor and will use his position to influence the outcome of the petition before the Edo State Election Tribunal.

I feel highly elated that Mr. President has proved them wrong, for if Mr. President actually had an unholy interest in the matter, that dissolution would not have been possible. I hope and pray that Justice Muktar and President Jonathan will before the end of their respective tenures strive to leave behind them the legacy of having midwifed the emergence a new independent, bold, courageous, vibrant, corrupt ion-free and enviable judiciary. They owe all Nigerians that obligation.

One must also appeal to members of the newly constituted Edo Election Tribunal to discharge their duties courageously and dispassionately with the fear of God no matter whose feathers are ruffled. They too owe the people of Edo State and Nigerians that.
When we were growing up in the late fifties to the early seventies in Benin City, our parents and teachers taught and admonished us to place moral values and the fear of God above every other consideration in whatever we did.

Then, whenever we were brought before our fathers and accused of any wrong doing, the onus restedonus to convince our fathers that we were innocent of those accusations. We painstakingly tried as much as possible to convince them of our innocence. Where possible, we called other family members to vouch for our innocence. We never for once told our fathers that they lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate in such matters brought before them. We never told them that such matters ought to have been taken to our mothers, grandparents or uncles for adjudication.

With those moral teachings and values still fresh in my mind, if anybody today casts any aspersion on my integrity with regards to my primary or secondary school certificates or even my university degree, I will use the last drop of blood in my body to prove to the whole world that I read for, wrote and passed the examinations that earned me the certificates. I will prove to everyone that I was actually found worthy both in character and learning before I was awarded my university degree.

I will go to the open court to list the names of the schools I attended and the years I attended them. I will tell the court who my headmasters/mistresses and principals were. The names of some of the teachers and tutors who taught me in primary and secondary schools should still be fresh in my memory so I should not have any difficulty in providing them to the court. And of course, I should also not have any challenges with the names of the Vice-Chancellor of my university while there and the lecturers who contributed to my being found worthy both in character and learning to be awarded the degree

Did I have contemporaries in school? Of course, yes, senior. junior and class mates and 1 will not hesitate to make them my witnesses in court to testify as to the veracity of my claims. Finally, I will request the court  to  subpoena  the Muktar authorities of those schools and examining bodies to authenticate the genuineness of my certificate and degrees and if the schools I claimed to have attended were actually in existence as at the time I claim to have attended them.

I will not go to the court to plead lack oTjurisdiction. As a journalist turned politician, I owe it to my children and siblings who see me as their role model, to my family name, to my friends, my professional and political associates as well as my numerous followers to establish the truth.

Furthermore, I owe it to the youths who should emulate me in both words, actions and deeds as well as members of the public who regularly sacrifice their time, energy and resources to support my political aspirations. Above all, I owe it to God my creator to always say the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I will not allow greedy and selfish politicians and lawyers who are only interested in what they can gain from me to lead me astray.

This is what the people of Edo State ask of the Comrade Governor of the state, Comrade Adams Aliu(or Aliyu) Oshiomhole. The people demand of him to go before the Election Tribunal to prove his opponent wrong by providing convincing and authentic evidences that the schools he claimed to have attended were actually in existence when he claimed
to have attended them.

They want to be assured that they were not wrong in reposing their confidence in him by his proving at the tribunal that he actually sat for, obtained and owns the certificates he parades contrary to his opponent's allegations.

They want to be able to convince their children and future generations that they did not make mistakes giving him their votes. They want to be reassured that the dignity and integrity of the office of GOVERNOR of Edo State has not been soiled, polluted and contaminated.

These assurances, the Comrade Governor should not hesitate to give to the people of the state and his numerous admirers nationwide by exonerating himself of the allegation of certificate forgery at the tribunal rather than hide under the guise of jurisdiction. He should realise that this dent will be a cross he will continue to bear in his life time if he does not take the right steps now to set the records straight. He should realise that any dirt swept under the carpet will surely resurface whenever the carpet is lifted up.

It is curious that in his citation read by Professor Eddy Eragbe during the Comrade Governor's swearing-in, the erudite University of Benin Associate Professor of History conveniently omitted the early educational background of the Governor. He merely mentioned that after his secondary education, Adams Aliu (or Aliyu) Oshiomhole proceeded to Ruskin University without mention of where the said secondary education took place nor the modern and primary schools attended by him. The question is: was it an omission or deliberate?

This was in contrast to the citation of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Odubu, read by one Pastor Remi Yusuf in which all the schools attended by the Deputy Governor were listed for all to hear. If the schools of the Deputy Governor could be highlighted, what prevented Professor Eragbe from highlighting those of the Governor's early educational background, if any? Were the hands of the Professor tied or do they have something to hide? But one thing is sure; Comrade Osniomhole missed another golden opportunity to set the records straight as it affects his early education.

The whole world tuned into the live coverage of the swearing-in with a view to knowing the truth.

Moreover, if the Governor in the fNEC form he filled for the July 14 election claimed he was born on April 4, 1952 and the citation read by Professor Eragbe claimed he was born on April 4, 1953, then something must be wrong somewhere. I wonder who is telling the truth-the  governor in his INEC   forms   or  the Professor in his citation.

The Governor definitely could not have been born in two different years. If Professor Eragbe made a mistake, the governor ought to have corrected him like his deputy did when Pastor Yusuf inadvertently read 1989 instead of 1999 in the course of his citation.

Prince Tony Afeiuku in Paragraphs 9 and ID of his article 'Edo election tribunal and Nigeria's judiciary-less judiciary (1)' published at the back page of the Nigerian Tribune of Monday, 8 October 2012 wrote "Why do I say this? Governor Oshiomhole is presently not an ordinary citizen of Edo State and Nigeria.

He ought to be and should be a model to be followed by our teeming youths, at least. If he does not know, I put it to him, his lawyers, his party and teeming supporters that the youths' silence that speaks volume (dumtacent clamant) on this matter bordering on alleged certificate forgery is not one that is doing the ebullient Governor any good.

The tribunal technical rejection of his number one opponent's case of alleged certificate forgery against him is something that Mr. Adams Aliyu (or Aliu) Oshiomhole should not allow on the ground of technicality.....

I align totally with the submission of Prince Afejuku. The ruling on the 15th of November 2012, of the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin which referred the issue of non-qualification of Adams Oshiomhole back to the Edo State Election Tribunal for hearing came as a relief to me. It vindicates the stand of many of us that the merit of the case ought not to have been sacrificed on the altar of technicality.

If the Comrade Governor is convinced and knows that the allegations are false, he should prove his innocence at the reconstituted Edo Election Petition Tribunal. If on the other hand, he is convinced that they are allegations he cannot defend, he should do what common sense dictates to be the right and ethical thing to do and that option is to throw in the towel and RESIGN NOW to preserve the DIGNITY of the office of Governor.

He owes his family? children and grandchildren, his numerous admirers and the good people of Edo State (both those who voted and those who did not vote for him) the obligation.

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