From Peter Okore, Umuahia
There have been sustained cheering reactions in Abia state, since the ruling of the three-man panel of Appeal Court Judges sitting in Lagos last Saturday.
The court upheld the decision of the Abia Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed Dr Alex Otti as the winner of the March 18, 20233, Abia Governorship election as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In their ruling, the panel dismissed the appeals brought before it, by the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Chief Okey Ahiwe and All Progressive Congress, APC, Chief and Chief Ikechi Emenike respectively, to up-turn the will of the people of Abia and well-wishers, through the ballot.
Different people in expressing their joy and congratulations over the court ruling in favour of Otti in various ways:
Dr. Alex Otti
The Governor, Dr Alex Otti, in his reaction, described the judgment of the Court of Appeal as well as the verdict of the Abia state 2023 Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Umuahia of October 6, 2023, as sound and bold affirmation of the unanimous decision of Abia people at the polls . He, therefore dedicated his victory at the courts to God and the Abia people,
Otti’s sharp reaction was contained in a press statement signed by Ferdinand Ekeoma, Special Adviser of Media and Publicity to the governor, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia..
Governor Otti applauded the justices for being deeply thoughtful and fearless in upholding the facts of law in the face of desperate and undemocratic onslaughts geared towards ensuring the usurpation of a mandate that is both popular and divine, assuring Abians that the determination of his government to serve them has received a boost by the verdict.
According to the statement: “The thoughtfulness, fearlessness and unblemished erudition of the justices as captured in the judgment, spoke eloquently of their determination to deepen our democracy which holds the majority wishes of the people as its foundation.
“Even though we never entertained any atom of fear, going by the landslide victory, we recorded at the polls, coupled with the sound submissions made by our erudite team of lawyers to defend our victory, I was moved by the unprecedented show of love, support and solidarity of our people which is a manifestation of what transpired at the polls as well as their appreciation of the modest achievements we have recorded, so far, in different spheres of our economy, my resolve to serve them with greater zeal, passion and commitment has been given a boost.”
The governor, therefore, called on his opponents to discontinue the ungodly and futile attempt to steal the mandate of the people and accept the judgment with humility, sobriety and equanimity and join hands with him to work for the development of the state, knowing very well that he won the election clearly and convincingly, assuring that he would work for the overall wellbeing of all Abians, irrespective of party differences.
In their own reaction, the Abia state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, merely called on its members to remain calm, while their lawyers study the judgment.
This call for calm is contained in a press statement signed by Mr. Amah Abraham, the Abia PDP state acting Publicity secretary and Vice chairman of the Abia-North zone of the party, made available to newsmen in Umuahia.
The press statement reads in parts, “The attention of the Abia PDP has been drawn to the judgment of the three-man panel of Appeal Court judges which sat in Lagos and upheld the decision of the Abia Election Petition Tribunal which had affirmed Alex Otti as the winner of the March 18, 2023, Abia governorship election”.
In their own reaction, the Abia State chapter of Labour Party described the mandate given to Otti as incontestable.
Speaking during an interactive session in Umuahia , the Abia State chapter chairman of the Labour Party , Chief Ceekay Igara insisted that both the PDP and the APC are chasing shadows as Abia remains a Labour Party- state, which he says no one can change.
Igara, however, called on the parties to “sheath their swords” and return home to build Abia, rather than distracting the state Governor with another supreme court process. He however, called on everyone to join hands together to make the state an envy of all.
Said he: “The appeal court judges made it clear that both the PDP and the APC are chasing shadows as far as this state is concerned. Abia is Labour and nothing can change that.”
“We have also seen the release by the PDP. May I employ them to instead of going to the Supreme Court, to return home and build a better Abia we all can be proud of . I am optimistic that the Supreme Court would not revert the judgments given by two other courts in favour of our candidate and the executive governor of the state, Dr. Alex Otti”.
According to Igara, “I therefore request everyone who’s interested in the sustenance of the development in infrastructure and other areas currently ongoing in the State to continue to pray to God Almighty for strength and wisdom to deliver”. He called on Abians and other Nigerians living in Abia State to “put party politics aside” and entrench their believe in the mantra of judiciary being the last hope of the common man and in the capacity of the judiciary to upholding the mandate of the people freely given to us.
HRH, Eze Linus Nto Mba
Eze Linus Nto Mba is the Chairman of Abia state council of Traditional rulers and Managing Director of LINTO FARMS, Ihechiowa.
In his reaction, Eze Mbah congratulated Governor Alex Otti on the affirmation of his election- victory by the Appeal Court in Lagos , which authenticated him as the Governor Of Abia State.
Also speaking during an interactive session, the Royal father described the verdict by the appellate court as a validation of the people’s mandate, pointing out that the Abia people and residents overwhelmingly voted Dr. Otti and are joyous over his achievements so far.
The Chairman of the Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers, on behalf of other Traditional Rulers in the State advised the petitioners and opponents of Governor Alex Otti to sheath their swords and join hands with the Governor to develop Abia State.
According to Eze Mbah, Governor Alex Otti has performed excellently well within six months in office and should be allowed to give Abia the needed democracy dividends, which had eluded the state for years. He enjoined Governor Otti to continue to serve Abians diligently and ensure lives are positively affected in- line with his policy thrust of creating wealth and lifting people out of poverty.
Mayor Joe Ezearo
Major Joe Ezearo is one of the newly inaugurated Mayor of Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia state. In his reaction, during an interaction with him, too, described the ruling by the appeal court affirming the victory of Governor Alex Otti, as deserving and congratulated the governor on what he described as a, “double barrel” win.
According to Ezearo, the win is also an affirmation that the Governor does not just have the people’s mandate, but that of God. He prayed God to guide him as he leads Abia to reclaim her pride of place among the comity of states across the nation.
His words:”It was a well deserved victory for Abians and Gov. Otti as the Appeal Court in Lagos,trashed the petitions brought to it against Dr. Alex Otti by the governorship candidates of the PDP and APC. It is a sign that the mandate is God given”..
Said he:”His Excellency, Congratulations to you on your resounding victory at the court of appeal. Your dedication and hard work have been clearly recognized by Abians and people beyond, and I am thrilled to see justice prevail in your favour.I am confident that under your guidance, our state will continue to prosper and thrive”