Chief Judge of Yobe State, Justice Garba Musa Nabaruma, is dead. That is no longer news. The news is that he was the chairman of the election tribunal in Anambra State, which ruled that INEC declaration of His Excellency, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, as governor, Anambra State, in 2003, was wrong and which subsequently gave the victory to Mr. Peter Obi in 2005.

That verdict was upheld by the appeal court in Enugu in 2006, effectively terminating the burgeoning administration of Dr. Ngige, whose exploits still resonate today, even more memorably. The appeal court verdict is story for another day. The intrigues that played out will one day be told.

That judgment set the tone for all dangerous judgments delivered, and still being delivered today by various courts, including the Supreme Court now assuming original jurisdiction of First election court.

It also marked the first time in our chequered history a sitting governor would be removed from office by the courts. Not to forget that Dr. Ngige was also the first sitting governor to be abducted while in office.

For now, may Nabaruma’s soul rest in peace, as we are quick to say of the dead.

That’s what we will say if Adolf Hitler were to be the one who died. We were told that even the press does not speak ill of the dead. So, I won’t do that. But I must ask the dead some questions, answers to which they may have gone to their grave with. It is left for the living to interrogate these questions further. And that is what I am doing.

I am aware that Justice Nabaruma didn’t deliver justice because he was “impeccable” or had “integrity”. Folks, especially from Obi’s camp, will come after me as I write this. But I’m ready to suck in any insults.

I know that some members of the Tribunal are alive and I would want them to tell the world why Justice Jide Aladejana from Ekiti State did not sign the judgment; he insisted on outright cancellation and ordering of fresh elections in their final ‘conclave’ before the verdict. Also Justice Ignatus Agube, formerly of Cross Rivers State high court and now at the court of appeal, know a thing or two, too.

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Also Barristers Onyechi Ikeazu, SAN; Emeka Etiaba, SAN; Senator Igbeke and Justice Aladejana are all still alive and may wish to make some confessions to enrich our jurisprudence and prevent a perverted man from getting underserved praises.

Even Senator Victor Umeh, Chief Chekwas Okorie and the once self-styled godfather of Anambra politics, Chief Chris Uba, know a thing or two and should speak up so that answers to my questions can be complete.

Justice Garba Nabaruma is dead. It’s understandable he cannot defend himself now. It is also plausible the accolades being poured on him by the Obi camp. Who wouldn’t?

It has become trite the way we react to court verdicts in Nigeria. Once it favours you, “the judiciary is the last hope of the common man”. “The judges are men of proven integrity”. Bla, bla, bla. Once it goes against you, you bash the judges and accuse the judiciary of all sorts and heap blames on everybody else.

Am I not doing that right now? However, facts will always remain sacred. And in the midst of such cries and accusations lies the truth. And the truth, together with change and death, will remain constant.

To those who are privy to what transpired behind the tribunal sessions, you just laugh at the praises being heaped on Nabaruma and move on. I was involved. So, I know what happened at both the tribunal and the appeal court. Minus Olusegun Obasanjo, then president, the court verdicts would have been different. And I write this with every strength in me, with a sense of responsibility and without fear of equivocation.

The tide in the tribunal changed on a certain Tuesday morning  in 2005 when Nuhu Ribadu, then EFCC chairman, flew into Enugu and drove to Awka to hand over “the demand” from Obasanjo, which was, “sack Ngige at all costs and annul the election”.

The calculation was that a fresh election would allow Mr. Nnamdi Andy Uba, then special assistant, domestic matters to president Obasanjo, take over.

When Ribadu was told that courts don’t give a litigant what he didn’t ask for, he told Nabaruma that “baba” wanted Ngige sacked. “Just remove him!” And Ngige was removed. The rest, they say, is history.

At the meeting in Awka, after flying into Enugu in the wee hours of that Tuesday in 2005 in a presidential jet, Mr. Ribadu told Nabaruma and his co-panelist pointedly that Ngige must go! Nabaruma gave his assurances and asked him to “convey same to the C-in-C”.

And he kept his words. Otherwise, he may have to tell the world why the Tribunal calculated votes cast at the 2003 gubernatorial election despite a subsisting Supreme Court judgment then that tribunals should not do so? What happened to the doctrine of stares decicis?

When some illicit votes were found in both Obi and Ngige’s total votes, why was one declared rightful winner instead of ordering a new election?

These and many more are questions I would have loved to pose to justice Nabaruma. Unfortunately, he’s dead. And so are the answers. But even in his grave he should answer them.

Let the tribunal judges involved, who are still alive, speak up now as Nabaruma has died with his secret. Also let former governor Obi and my Oga, Senator Ngige; Senators Ben Obi, Andy Uba; Hon. Nicholas Ukachukwu, and some others come forward with the truth.

The world would like to know how many meetings took place in various places in Awka and in Abuja during which plans to remove Ngige at all costs were perfected.

Justice Nabaruma, a man of integrity? No? A political judge? Yes. And he got rewarded as the Chief Judge of Yobe State.

That’s how it works here. Only those who know will agree.

May he rest in peace, as they say.



Anambra Update is an independent publication, established in 2012 for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events, and of promoting the best interests of Anambra and Ndigbo in extention. It owes allegiance to no political party, ethnic community, religious or other interest group. Its primary commitment is to the integrity and sovereignty of the Federation of Nigeria, and beyond that to the unity and sovereignty of Igbo Social-Cultural Race

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