Tribunal: Why More Labour Party Candidates Will Lose

By Nnacheta Samuel

As a core Labour Party stakeholder in Abia State, I was not surprised at the incessant sack of the Labour Party candidates in the last elections at tribunals across the country. Though, I laboured tremendously to see that the political situation of my country and my dear state, Abia changed, but while fighting, I never jettison the thought that some holding the tickets of our party, Labour will not scale or survive judiciary scrutiny if per
adventure they win.

As one of the closest friend to Peter Obi’s surrogate and convener of the 40 Million Ballots Movement, the main precursor of the Obidient Movement, Comrade Kennedy Iyare, as we were planting the trees of Obidient Movement nationwide and watering it to ensure its successful growth, we never expected that the wave will be this intense. We never expected that it will have a spill-over effect on other states as our main target was to assist Obi to become the president of Nigeria, having reposed our trust and confidence in him.

Yes, Obi was the major factor and the capo di tuttu capi in the general election, but during the Labour Party stakeholders conference held in Abuja on May 27, that was two days after Obi had defected to the Labour Party, we agreed to field all the candidates both at the federal and state levels. But because the party does not have executives down to the ward levels, we agreed that anyone irrespective of his or her social status should be given any available ticket.
As a result of this decision and considering the fact that our target was to mobilize and win the presidential election, no one paid due attention to their qualifications of our prospective candidates and the processes that thrown them up.

Many governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly tickets were given to candidates based on stakeholders’ influence and interventions. Primaries were never properly conducted as a result of this. States like Enugu, Adamawa, Kebbi, Anambra and others never conducted primary elections, because people were not interested, people were being given tickets free and others were begged to take tickets.
These were responsible for the ongoing post election legal tussles that brought about the wave of loss of Labour Party at the Enugu State Tribunal.

The reason I am writing this is for us to remove sentiments and emotions and stop attacking the judiciary unwarrantedly and unjustly because even if there are corrupt judges, all the judges cannot be said to be corrupt without any evidence. Expectations are high, but that does not mean that the rule of law will not be applied as law deals with facts and evidence and does not pander to anyone’s interest or emotions.

Who will believe that in some states, some motor park touts, Okada riders, houseboys and maids were given Labour Party ticketsby their masters to contest the 2023 elections.
Many of them do not have First School Leaving certificates and equally can not make a correct sentence in English Language. Majority of them who were fielded as party candidates never campaigned because they never know they were candidates until they were called that they have won elections.

Now, the chips are down and there have been many discoveries of forgeries and breach of processes. Some of these candidates could not prove to the tribunal that the signatures on the party forms, affidavits and other documents submitted to the INEC belonged to them. The law doesn’t bend.

With the new electoral act, some political parties including the Peoples Democratic Parties and the All Progressive Congress in some states failed to observe thoroughly the rules and processes there in and this equally has contributed to the sack of some of their candidates in states like Kogi, Imo, Niger and others. I could recall calling one of my friends in Enugu (name withheld) to congratulate him for winning the House of Representative election. In his words he said, ”Nnacheta, till today, it appears as though I was dreaming. I can’t believe that I am going to be a Reps member. I was driving a tanker to 9th Mile one Wednesday morning when I was called by Chief (name withheld) that my name had been submitted as a House of Representatives candidate for my constituency, I never expressed any joy over that because I saw it as an avenue to collect the little money I was making. Later in the evening, I called chief and told him that I hope no one would ask me to bring a kobo for anything and he said no, asserting that they were just filling forms and submitting and that he remembered he had my passport with him and he filled mine.”

My dear friend told me that if Chief had known it would later turn to victory, he would have filled his own name or given the ticket to his wife or any of the family members. I asked him who then signed all the documents for him and how do he get his education certificate which he submited to INEC, he told me that he had on numerous occasion submitted his Curriculum Vitae to the Chief to help him get a driver’s job in any of the ministries in Enugu and from there Chief did everything including signing a signature on his behalf. Immediately I heard this, I knew he was not going to last long in that office. Just last week, his victory was upturned by the tribunal and his people are crying injustice, alleging that the judges have been bribed without knowing that the process that brought him to office was faulty.

The judgements of the governorship and state assembly is yet to be delivered, by the time it starts coming out, many eyes will go reddish in tears as there were so many cases of blatant violations of the new electoral act. I told our party in the last stakeholders meeting held in Owerri, Imo State that our party has many questionable candidates accross Nigeria and that I am afraid some of them may not scale through the tribunal. So many of them did not welcome my position because they were so beclouded by sentiments and emotions. Today, I am gradually being vindicated as the truth is now being laid bare at the tribunal.
No doubt, we have learnt our lessons and we shall get it right in the subsequent elections, only if we hope that the obidients’ tempo will never die down.

Arch. Nnacheta Emmanuel writes from Obingwa, Abia State

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