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My war with Supreme Court justices has just begun Ė Ifeanyi Okonkwo, called Ďcommon criminalí by the apex court

Posted by By PETRUS OBI, Enugu on 2008/03/04 | Views: 900 |

My war with Supreme Court justices has just begun Ė Ifeanyi Okonkwo, called Ďcommon criminalí by the apex court


After the Supreme Court described Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, a one-time governorship candidate of the Nigeria Advance Party (NAP) in Anambra State as a fraud, many thought that he was down and out.

After the Supreme Court described Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, a one-time governorship candidate of the Nigeria Advance Party (NAP) in Anambra State as a fraud, many thought that he was down and out.

The Supreme Court had chided him as, ďa political fraudster who goes about collecting money from political opponents in the name of settlement.Ē

In fact, the Supreme Court pronounced him ďa common criminal not fit to be in the comity of decent persons,Ē on January 29, 2008, when the apex court dismissed the suit instituted by Andy Uba, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate and the Independent National Electoral Commission to unseat Governor Peter Obi.

But now that some people thought he should go and lick his wounds, he has come out smoking, insisting that the war with the Supreme Court judges has just begun.
Hear him: ďThe judiciary has brought itself on trial. Thatís why I petitioned and thatís why I sued them, because they canít get away with it.

ďYes, that is the beginning and the end of those people you expect should know better. You will see that they are very pedestrian people, who donít even know the rules of the due process of law. A man came to a court with a process of court, duly filed in that court; you abandoned the process and started attacking him. What does it show you? They left my petition and started attacking me, with information they gathered outside. The judiciary has brought itself on trial.

Thatís why I petitioned and thatís why I sued them, because they canít get away with it. It also shows you the length and breadth of our democracy, because in a situation like that if I am an ordinary man, I wouldnít know where to run to. There is no lawyer in this country that has commented on what the Supreme Court did because they have no cause. They donít even know the law.

ďI know law better than them. Thatís why I am now taking them on. Yes, for what they have done, it shows they donít know the law. If you know the law, you operate within the tenets of the law. They have no immunity to do that. You kill a man because you are justice of the Supreme Court and you go free? No way, because the law never gave them any immunity. I will see them in court.Ē
You mean you sued the Supreme Court judges?
Are they not Nigerians? Do they have immunity? If you go outside your jurisdiction, you are liable to civil actions.

Where is this case coming up?
Federal High Court, Abuja. I am asking for N500 million because they goofed. I petitioned the body that controls judicial conduct; they breached their oath of office; they descended into the arena and started running commentaries on a litigant before the court without hearing his application. Itís unheard of. That will show you the people who manage the judicial affairs of this country.
Some people wonder about your ability to defend yourself in court. Are you a lawyer?
I am not a lawyer. I studied microbiology and biochemistry.

How come you are able to handle your cases up to the Supreme Court level?
Democracy is embedded in the rule of law. There is no way you can operate in a democracy, if you do not know the rules of the game. Who says that the Nigerian Constitution belongs to lawyers? It belongs to Nigerians; if you want to operate in a democracy, you must learn how to access the court. The court operates on rules and regulations, and the supreme instrument is the Constitution. Why should I be attacked for knowing how to operate it? You donít need a licence to go to court. You need legal assistance. If you donít know how to navigate the law, then you hire a lawyer. I donít hire lawyers because I donít need their services; people who need their services hire them. So, I donít stop people from hiring lawyers, those that go to court hire the best, because I am damn good and they know it.
Itís about inquest; you have to be interested in things around you, dominate your environment and thatís what I am doing. I am a curious animal. Your security is important. How do you secure yourself if you donít know the rule of law? A lot of people know the Bible but they donít know the Constitution. You operate between you and God with the Bible. You operate between you and your your community with the Constitution and they have interface.

Tribunal ruling on YaríAduaís election
Cases are won in the chambers. They are not won in the court. Nigerian lawyers should be ashamed. They are on trial. The cases brought to court by Buhari and Atiku were lost and won in the chambers of their lawyers. They couldnít present the peopleís case, that is the problem. I want to see them go for appeal, let them advise their clients properly. There is no room for appeal, that judgment is unassailable. I listened to it, the facts presented, not even one ground was sustained. They donít even know the issues they have gone to court with. Can you imagine Atiku, with all his money and the galaxy of lawyers he hired, did not have grounds on which he petitioned the tribunal? There are four distinct grounds that are not related. Atiku on one hand said he was unlawfully excluded, fantastic ground. How can you say that you never participated in election and you are talking of irregularities in the election? Which means you participated. I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians that the standard of proof in civil cases should not be applied in election matters. In election matters, it is the man who won that will prove that he won, turn it around the other way and the place will be ventilated. Nigerian lawyers should wake up because what happened, it was like a cemetery. They went and buried their clients. They didnít present their cases well. You donít bring one trailer-load of evidence to win a case. You donít need one thousand witnesses. One good point recognized by law and you are home and dry.
Nullification of Governor T.A Orjiís election in Abia State
The Abia State case is a different thing altogether. How can Onyema Ugochukwu who complained about irregularities of election benefit from the same irregularities? How can the tribunal declare him governor? At one time you said the man is not qualified to run, which means that is the only ground you should be going to the petition. Once that man is knocked off, on grounds of qualification, then you become governor. Onyema Ugochukwu attacked the governor on grounds of not being qualified to run and also said there were irregularities in the elections.
I am not Orjiís adviser. I have not been paid as the Supreme Court said. Thinking is a hard business. What I am saying is that if they have good lawyers, the judgment will crash like a pack of cards. I give you an example: Orji has nothing to prove that he resigned. It is the man who alleges that he did not resign, that would bring the head of service to show that Orji has been collecting salary. What are we talking about?

Andy Ubaís appeal court victory
That shows the decadence in the judiciary. Ubaís matter is simple. The petitions pending against a dead man is as good as the man that is dead. I donít know what is going on in this country. The legal profession must wake up. The rule of law is the pinnacle of the practice of democracy. The best brains are not in the legal profession. Thatís why all this mess-up. Nobody sues them for going there to lose the case otherwise, who will you hire to sue a lawyer?

Issue of N10 million bribe
Was anybody claiming he gave bribe of N10 million? How can a man who does not control public fund, who is not a civil servant be accused of taking bribe? They donít even know the meaning. Let them go and read up their laws books. For you to talk about bribe, it must be made an issue. Even the people who benefited from the judgment did not agree that they ever met me. They said they never gave me money. I sold an intellectual property. I am not a lawyer. I am not a member of any profession. It was because of my intellectual ingenuity that I noticed something that was wrong somewhere and somebody asked me, please donít say it. And he gave me money and I collected the money. Besides, I am a defendant. A defendant doesnít have a case. It is the plaintiff that has a case.
Why should somebody remove my name in the case? I have filed action in court. You will be hearing about it. At the end of the day, I know that justice is mine. Look at the way the Supreme Court goofed. To malign an innocent man because the man has dared to challenge them. The matter is not rested and I am shooting from all cylinders.

I have nothing against Governor Peter Obi
Going to court is part of being democratic. Itís when you go to Okija Shrine that you move away from the tenets of democracy. It is a civilized way of presenting your grievances and giving the other man the opportunity, you put him on notice, you go there and you marshal your points at the end of the day, no love lost.
I donít know him and we donít have the same interest. So why should I be against him? Itís just like asking what Obi has against me, nothing, there is nothing common between us. The only thing is that I am insisting that the election he claimed he won, that I was unlawfully excluded and I have the pronouncement of a court of competent jurisdiction. Why should I put it in my cupboard? I will bring it out, that is what they are trying to foreclose and I say no. I donít need a lawyer to do that. They know me. They know what I can do in court. If a man is unlawfully excluded from an election, that is the end of that election, it should be cancelled. I donít care who benefits, but let us follow the rule of law. If he says he believes in the rule of law, why are they afraid of what I am saying? Let them meet me in court and we will thrash issues.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.