Abuja, Nigeria – An Enugu-based lawyer, Ogochukwu Onyema, who hails from the senatorial district of the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has explained further why he approached the Federal High Court in Enugu to declare the constituency seat vacant.
Senator Ekweremadu is the sitting Senator representing Enugu West constituency but he is being detained in the United Kingdom where he is facing charges bordering on alleged organ trafficking. His trial commenced fully on May 2, 2023, though there will be a hearing of pretrial applications on October 31.
But Barr. Onyeama, who contested the 2018 PDP Senatorial primary with Ekweremadu, has been in the news since he filed the suit praying a federal High Court to declare the Enugu West Senate position currently occupied by Senator Ike Ekweremadu vacant.
The action has received mixed reactions with some attacking his conscience for taking such a step against a man passing through difficult times in London.
In a statement made available to Time Africa, Barr. Onyeama explained his action is devoid of sentiment, emotions, pride or prejudice but according to provisions of the law.
The statement reads:
“I can understand the emotions and sentiments of the people mostly employees of the Senator representing Enugu West.
Simply put, the name callings are uncalled for, as the law is straight on this matter.
“I, Sir OAU Onyema ( Notary Public) have only instituted action for interpretation of the relevant sections of the 1999 constitution, the Electoral Act 2022, the Senate Standing Order 2015, the Senate legislative Calender 2022, the PDP Constitutions 2017, and the PDP Senatorial Guidelines For Nomination of Candidates 2018 / 2022. I did not manufacture their contents, and I only adverted the mind of the court to it.
“I instituted this action without sentiment, but as a patriotic citizen of this country (Nigeria). The law is justice, and justice quite different from sentiments , friendship, pretence and name-calling. That is why the symbol of justice is a blindfolded lady, who hold a scale of balance.
“As a lawyer, I am devoid of sentiment, emotions, pride or prejudice when it comes to what the law provides.
“At all times, the judgment of the court ( which is the decision of the judge in line with the law) is recieved with mixed feelings. While those it benefits jubilate, those it did not, go sulking.
“The issue is that everyone cannot shy away from speaking- out. We understand the predicament of our brother, the distinguished Senator who is under incarceration because he wants to help his daughter; indeed I personally feel for him, and pray that he will be vindicated at the end.
However, I know that it is incorrect for our Senatorial zone (Enugu West) to remain UNREPRESENTED at the Senate while the proceedings are on, and decisions are being taken, all to our detriment.
“What we thought was a minor issue graduated from days, to weeks, and weeks to months. This is the 3rd month now, that we are unrepresented according to the provisions of the constitution. He has already represented us for 19 years in the Senate, and issues arose in this final 20th year, making it difficult for him to continue offering his services.
“I was triggered to speak-out, when the media became awashed with the fact that he was denied bail severally, and his pre-trial fixed for October 2022 and Trial to commence on or around 28th May, 2022, barely 1 day to the end of the current administration.
“As a lawyer, my interpretation of this remains that it will be difficult for him to continue this representation under this circumstance. And the question remains, do we fold our arms and remain unrepresented until the end of this administration because of our Senator’s current travail.
“The frustrations are that the seat is not delegatable, and he does not have a deputy, more so proceedings goes on with or without him, to the detriment of my humble self and the people of Enugu West.
“Surely, it is not the best for the system, and anything one can do to help our system, in the interest of posterity, should be done devoid of sentiments.
“The Senator is my Senator, and I grew under him. I ve contested for this seat of Senate thrice without success. That is years 2010, 2018 and 2022. I know the shrewdness, wickedness, meaness, injustice, treachery, inequity, betrayal, lack of conscience and sabortage I experienced, which resulted to my not securing PDP nomination despite my qualifications and hundreds of millions of naira expended.
‘I have contested for House of Reps for Udi / Ezeagu / Federal Constituency twice in Enugu State being in years 2002 and 2006 PDP primary Elections with Hon Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi. I know what I experienced; and at each time, I am made to understand that lack of conscience, sentiment, and shrewdness are the norm, which must be imbibed by politicians. I did not fancy it, but the trait surely crept into me.
“I contested the seat of the PDP primaries for the Senate of Enugu West District in 2010 and 2018 with the distinguished senator who is presently being held. It went the way it went, and I did not hold it against anyone.
“Indeed, I ve never gone to court to challenge the party or anyone for over 22years that I have been denied party Nomination to National Assembly, despite my loyalty, and consistency in the party. Many left the party and returned, and were rewarded, but I have never left PDP, even for once, despite all the disappointments meted to me for no just cause, and I have never been honoured or rewarded. I was forced to learn the bitter lesson that, loyalty to the party does not pay anymore. I work hard to excel on my own. Other incredulous factors now reign supreme, in the choice of candidate.
“All these notwithstanding, as a litigation attorney, Notary Public and an employer of labour, I always retire to my shell and face my legal practice. There I remained, till the present unfortunate incident which created a vacuum in the Seat of Senate of Enugu West district.
“I then reviewed the provisions of the law, as the next available runner-up in the Senatorial Primary election which sent the present senator-in-trouble to the 9th Senate; and realized that I am the next in law to go in as his replacement without any bye election, in line with the laws, hence I sued, so as to ensure that our representation in the Senate does not suffer set-back.
“I am aware that many of those who worked against me during our primary election with the present Senator, has taken to the radio and media to criticize my audacity and temerity to sue, irrespective of whether it is right or wrong. I do not blame them, for they are apprehensive of loosing their allowances. But, if I find myself in the Senate within this last lapse, I do not think my priority will be to sack any aide of the Senatorial Constituency offices. We will work together as brothers.
“Mind you, the Senator whom I am seeking for his seat to be declared vacant by default has been in the Senate for 5 ( Five) Tenures of almost 20years. We are at the 19th year plus, before this trouble erupted. Is it this remaining 1year, which I sought to complete because of his default of representation, that they are so bitter about.
“To them, let all keep quiet, fold arms and watch the remaining 1 year of the 9th Senate eflux without representation of our people, and the attendant loss, no problem. Honestly, my father Barr T.A.Onyema did not train me that way. I cannot encourage waste in the system; even in my own private enterprise.
“Some of the senator’s hench-men and beneficiary, like Mr Emeka Ezenwugo of my maternal town- Umuabi, Udi has bolded-up to fiercely confront me, threatening fire and brimstone, but I am not perturbed. God has designed the destiny of all man, and only time shall tell.
“The State authority has intervened, to see how the issue could be sorted out, and for more time to be given, considering the predicament of our brother-the Senator, and their position is seriously recieving attention.
“This matured intervention is considered a better approach, rather than threat being offered by Mr Ezenwugo.
“It is about 11 (eleven) lawyers in my chambers and other Senior lawyers outside my chambers that reviewed the laws and instituted this action; and I am only the Plaintiff as the next available runner- up. Any other person from Enugu West district could have been the plaintiff and still bring up the reliefs sought; so even my demise does not solve the problem. It is the law in action; and the primary Cause of action of ‘declaring the seat vacant’ survives the exit of parties, hence parties can always vary, and the case continue.
In summary, the action was brought on good faith, without prejudice or sentiment. It is all about speaking up to save the country.
“I was disappointed with those supporters saying “what of when Governor ‘this and that’ were in prison, were they not taking their salaries and allowances as Senators? I felt so bad with these illustrations. Shall we continue in a lackadaisical attitude in this country, where abnormality is made a norm? Mind you, those cases of Ex- governors in prison, that were then recieving salaries were NEVER judicial precedents. No court pronounced it right. And to the best of my knowledge, no one sought to declare their seat vacant by default. Is it unheard-of, that a person in prison will be taking salary for job not done , or sitting allowance for sitting not done, and no one raises eye- brow. So shameful for a nation. Meanwhile, our children have been out of school for almost a year now because of incessant strike of aggrieved lecturers seeking for their entitlements.
“I will only seize this opportunity to ask our people to stop being pretentious, or allowing sentiment to becloud our sence of reasoning.
“People, should find something doing, so that they can feed themselves and their families; by that, they can have independent reasoning to give the best of appraisal to issues.
“Someone has represented for 19 years, out of his 20 years (5 tenures) mandate; and issues arose that he is in default of representation in the 20th year, and someone with good sense, is saying that it is evil or satanic, to sought for another person to complete the representation in the few months remaining. I believe, you will know who is actually evil or satanic.
“Having played politics in the Apex in Enugu State for over 22years, the outcome from the pupil, is what he was taught.
“Those supporters who have gone to URBAN RADIO, AND DREAM FM radios to be castigating and slandering my name, are only doing a great disservice to the meaningful States intervention. I strongly advise them to retrace their steps and retire home, if they have no ideas or solutions to offer.”