27 May 2010

Nigeria: Triumph of Igbeke

Perhaps, the appellation, titanic battle, appears very fitting to the gruelling encounter between Alphonsus Igbeke of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Joy Emodi, which ended on Tuesday, May 25.

Igbeke, who had challenged declaration as the winner of the 2007, Anambra North Senatorial election in court, sealed his victory in style as the Senate finally performed his swearing-in ceremony, recognising him as one of them.

By that act, the senator becomes the first of the ANPP from the southern part of the country to be part of the upper chamber legislature. An obviously elated Igbeke, fondly called Ubanese by admirers, expressed gratitude to Nigerians for standing by him in the face of what he called political intimidation, after the colourful senatorial rituals.

He said: "undoubtedly, my three-year experience was excruciating and unpalatable and such that I would not wish anyone, even my worst enemy. No doubt, God allowed the whole scenario to play out the way it did for a purpose.

"For instance, I have now seen that contrary to the erroneous general belief, a typical Nigerian truly loathes injustice and is selfish, courageous and resilient in the defence of Nigeria's Constitution and promotion of rule of law. I am grateful to the gentlemen of the press. They are truly virile and alive to their responsibilities to Nigerians and the society. The unbiased exceptional activism of the press throughout this case was comforting. Their efforts made this day possible."

In his view, Bisi Adegbuyi, a lawyer and senatorial candidate of Ogun East in the last election, says, "because the rightful winner of that election has been sworn in, makes good news. The impostor, this is deliberate because Emodi does not qualify to be called a senator by what just played out, ought to know now that the new wave of impunity does not pay after all.

"The important thing is that, no matter how long it takes, the stream of justice must take its course. But there is a lesson here: a system that allows the perpetrators of things like this without punishment of any sort ought to be reviewed, not just allowing them to vacate office but prescribe penalties to stem the tide. In any case, we are waiting to see how Igbeke will rise to the occasion. It is a welcome development," Adegbuyi remarked.

Igbeke's journey to the Senate could be described as tortuous and characterised by intrigues. The Appeal Court sitting in Enugu had given him victory as the true winner of the senatorial election and ordered his immediate swearing-in to end Emodi's wrongful occupation of his seat in the legislative chambers. But, the Senate, in a manner that confounded not a few, unduly stalled the event on two occasions in which it cited the matter in court as an alibi, thus paving way for a prolonged game of wits.

Emodi, who had chaired the Education sub-Committee in the senate for almost three years, had gone back to the courts pleading for proper interpretation of the judgement that pronounced Igbeke victorious and the earlier one that awarded her victory, without success.

Igbeke in his 40's hails from Nsugbe in Anambra North Local Government Area where many, according to his fans, admire his grassroots political orientation.

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