TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY UNITED ABIA ARTISTES AND PATRIOTS (UAAP) ON MAY 21, 2023 AT DESTINATION HOTEL, WUSE II, ABUJA.
Good afternoon, Gentlemen of the Press.
In the last 72 hours, the media has been awash over a purported nullification of the gubernatorial election victory of Abia State Governor-Elect, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti OFR via a judgment that was delivered by a federal high court in Kano State.
Even though the court has made clarifications that it did not nullify the election of Dr. Otti as clearly stated in the court judgment papers and notable legal luminaries have equally faulted the decision that emanated from the court stating that the matter itself is statute-barred because it is a pre-election matter, UAAP still finds it very important that it explains to Nigerians what is happening in Abia State.
For the past 24 years, Abia State has not witnessed anything close to good governance, the people have not tasted any benefit of democracy, nor have they felt anything close to good leadership. This explains why the Kano judgment is a joke taken too far. The truth is that given the mood of Abians, the time is hardly auspicious for such jokes!
At the moment, some workers are being owed 35 months’ salary arrears, pensioners are owed over 40 months, gratuity is now a forgotten benefit for retiring workers, Doctors are on strike, NLC is on strike, Judiciary workers are on strike and some academic institutions have lost accreditations. In fact, the state is literally on life-support.
Painfully, in this same regrettable state, Abia has found itself, government appointees are building houses and hotels with Julius Berger as the contractor, and they are acquiring new fleets of vehicles, buying landed properties in choice areas in the state, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Lagos State, traveling abroad as if they are moving from Umuahia to Aba, traveling for medical trips overseas, sending their kids to study abroad… In fact, they live like emperors whilst the people, like vassals, dwell in squalor.
To sustain this lifestyle means they must keep the people in perpetual poverty so that they can use the taxpayer’s money, the commonwealth of the people of Abia State to enrich themselves and their cronies.
So, the last gubernatorial election in Abia State was a battle between a political criminal cabal that has impoverished the people and Abians themselves. This is the fierce battle Dr. Alex Chioma Otti OFR has been fighting for the past 8 years, but this time around the people stood their ground and God’s help saw us through.
That is why Abians have christened 18 March 2023 as Abia State’s “Independence Day”. The day Abians defeated the political criminal cabal that has held the people, hostage, hijacked our commonwealth, and impoverished the masses.
For the avoidance of doubt, Abians believe that the contemptible Kano ruling is a little part of the grand plan of the same cabal to truncate the mandate the Abia electorate freely gave their Governor-Elect, Dr. Otti, or create enough distraction for him through the judiciary.
But really, what are the issues?
To put the records straight and reassure our teeming supporters and millions of Abians who are still celebrating the liberation of Abia, we wish to emphatically state as follows:
- That the Federal High Court in Kano neither issued an order on Abia Labour Party candidates nor the Governor-Elect, Dr. Alex Otti because, unlike those who brought the suit to steal the Abia peoples’ mandate, the court was somewhat conscious of its powers and artfully played around the booby trap set for it by the PDP and Abia state government.
To that effect, the court specifically stated in Clause 9 of the judgment “The candidates that participated in the election in Abia State are not parties before this court and as such the court lacks the jurisdiction to make an order for the issuance of Certificate of Return to them…”.
- The Federal High Court in Abia had entertained similar cases as pre-election matters involving some PDP candidates versus LP Candidates, and the matters were litigated up to the Supreme Court. In all the cases, Labour Party won at the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court respectively.
- The case brought by the petitioners is a pre-election matter and under Section 285(14)(a) of the Electoral Act, the Kano meddlesome interloper who initiated the suit had no locus standi as he was not an aspirant in LP.
Even so, Section 285 (9), requires that such pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days of the occurrence of the event. In other words, the suit should have been filed before the end of June last year. On the contrary, this suit was filed on May 11, 2023, and a week later, the “Guinness Book of Records Breaker” Judge delivered judgment. We do hope that the National Judicial Council (NJC) is alive to its responsibilities because the whole world is watching with keen interest.
- For purposes of further elucidation, Dr. Alex Otti became the Governorship Candidate of the Labour Party on 09 June 2022, then any pre-election litigation questioning his candidacy must have been commenced not later than 14 days from 09 June 2022— meaning the case must be filed not later than 23 June 2022.
- On the issue of whether or not the Labour Party submitted its Members’ Register 30 days before it held its primary election that produced the candidates for the general election in accordance with Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act of 2022 (as amended), there is no penalty contained in the Act for non-compliance. Even more primarily, the Electoral Act neither expressly nor impliedly calls non-compliance with Section 77(3) an offense; and logically, where there is no offense, there couldn’t possibly be a penalty.
It is, therefore, clear that this whole thing is a storm in a teacup and should not be given a life it does not have or an exaggerated image at the expense of peace in God’s Own State. The journey that brought Abia and Abians to their eve of liberation had been most tortuous and the good people of the state cannot wait to turn their backs permanently on 24 years of voodoo governance and great shame.
Finally, we would like to assure Abians in particular and Nigerians in general that the locally and internationally celebrated mandate given to Dr. Alex Otti by the long-suffering Abia masses is safe and secure and can never be stolen by strange usurpers who are pained and frightened by the reality of their imminent exit from power in the next few days.
In the next few days, Dr. Alex Otti will be sworn in as governor to enable him to commence the process of rebuilding and recovering our state that was destroyed and plundered by the PDP, so Abians are urged to ignore the Kano ruling that purports to be consequential.
Finally, Abians voted for Alex Otti because they believe in him, they believe he is prepared for the job, they know he does not have a godfather, they know he has been the only vocal opposition for the past 8 years and they see the new Abia in him.
- Abia State is precious to us and the people have suffered so much hardship and deprivation, we demand that the judiciary should henceforth refrain from entertaining ill-conceived suits that are clearly designed to embarrass it as the temple of justice or bring the institution to odium and allow Dr. Alex Otti to focus on fixing our badly battered state for us
- Abia State at the moment is the most peaceful state in South East, judiciary should not allow itself to be used to destroy the peace of the state or put it in harm’s way.
- We demand an immediate end to mischief-making and all acts that are capable of hurting Abia’s democratic journey by the soon-to-expire gang of political profiteers, or else they would have the full wrath of highly inflammable Abia masses to contend with.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Amb. (Dr.) Osita Offor – (Ultimate Commander) Convener/Leader
Chuks Akamadu Esq – Secretary/Legal Adviser