That Failed ‘Potipharisation’ of Pastor Umo Eno
By Osondu Ahirika
Pardon my coinage above. It’s done, not only in exercise of my poetic license, but as a portrayal of this season of anomie. In Sunday School, as a kid, I first learnt the ordeal of Jospeh who was convicted without trial and thrown into the gulag for what he never did.
Potiphar’s seductress, a supposed wife of the big man, falsely accused Jospeh of attempting to rape her. Whereas, the young man was in conduct, disciplined, unimpeachable and immaculate. He was nonetheless jailed.
If you think that was a fairy tale, you needn’t doubt it can happen again. Look not too far away, but in nearby Abuja. A Chief Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 6, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was hoodwinked and manipulated to convict and order the arrest of Pastor Umo Eno, Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State.
The complainant in the suit marked CR/94/2022, one Edet Godwin Etim, filed a charge of “cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property”(whatever that means) against Pastor Umo Eno unbeknownst to him.
Without being served, heard from, or summoned howsoever, Edet Godwin Etim proceeded to obtain a fraudulent and flawed verdict against his target. Nothing could be further than jungle justice. A ‘black market conviction’ just to ambush an innocent man all in the name of politics.
At his Ika campaign rally, Pastor Umo Eno, like every sensible person, first dismissed it as fiction when the Cable online broke the news. His lawyer, Chief Uwemedimo Nwoko SAN, also debunked knowledge of such case. Alas, as the saying goes, ‘wetin Musa no go see for gate?’
Thankfully, the hooded Lady of justice didn’t eventually turn a blind eye on this kangaroo trial it was deceived to dish out. When their attention was drawn to the travestous deed, the warrant of arrest earlier issued by Chief Magistrate Emmanuel Iyanna, on December 23, 2022 was quashed. The Potiphar of this age couldn’t have his way on Pastor Umo Eno.
Miffed by this corruptible development, The Pastor Umo Eno Campaign Organisation issued a Press Statement of reprimand, to checkmate the underhand, below-the-belt, antics of the opponents.
In the statement titled,
“EVERYONE CANNOT BE A CONVICT: THE VINDICATION OF PASTOR UMO ENO”, signed by her spokesman, Prince Chris Abasieyo, the Wednesday, January 11, 2023, nullification of the earlier judgement was hailed.
Truth be told, Pastor Umo Eno has faced many installed Court hurdles since he announced his bid to serve his people as Governor and eventually won the May 25, 2022 Governorship primaries of the PDP.
On May 21, 2022, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division to challenge the order of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which had ordered it to maintain status Quo Ante Bellum.
The Federal High Court Abuja had ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the PDP to stay all actions concerning the conduct of Ward Congresses for the purpose of electing statutory delegates to vote at the party’s Gubernatorial, National Assembly and State Assembly in Akwa-Ibom State.
The Court presided over by Justice Obiora Egwuatu by the order compelled the PDP and INEC to use the list of the statutory delegates which the party’s National Working Committee of the party had submitted to INEC. That looked like an impediment to the progress of the primaries.
Dissatisfied with the order the PDP through its Counsel Paul Usoro, SAN filled an appeal challenging the decision and prevailed. The primaries was conducted and Pastor Umo Eno won.
In the end, Justice Obiora Egwuata of the Federal High Court dismissed as incompetent and lacking in merit, the suit challenging the validity of the April 30, 2022 PDP Ward Congress in Akwa Ibom State brought before her by FRIDAY IWOK & ORS V INEC & ORS. The Status Quo Ante Bellum noise petered out in the State and there was calm. The the Plaintiffs application for the nullification of the PDP primaries failed woefully.
A related case was filed in suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/750/2022, which had Jeremiah Otu Inyang, Moses Akpanusoh and Umoffia Monday Peter as Plaintiff with INEC, PDP, Rt Hon Ekong Sampson, Hon Aniekan Umanah and Rt Hon Kufre Ededem as Defendants, in the same Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division asking the court to nullify all PDP primaries which nominated all its candidates in Akwa Ibom State on the ground that Statutory Delegates were not allowed to participate in the primaries.
Yet again, Justice O.A.Egwuata rejected their petition and gave judicial validation to the PDP primaries and by extension the gubernatorial ticket of Pastor Umo Eno.
The Federal High Court, Abuja, held that the case was baseless on the basis that it was an internal affair of the party and the Plaintiffs were neither accommodated under the narrow confines of Section 251 of the Constitution nor under Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Did it end there? No,! Another sponsored case was on. It is now popularised as, ‘Alleged Certificate’s Forgery. One of the defeated PDP governorship aspirant, Mr Akan Okon is the plaintiff in the case. He(Akan Okon), alleging forgery in WAEC, voter’s card and birth certificates, prayed the court to disqualify Umo Eno as the candidate and rather, make him the candidate as the next highest votes scorer.
That, with a paltry 3 votes out of 1,117 possible votes, where Pastor Umo Eno clinched 993 votes.
On November 11, 2022, the Federal High Court Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, struck out the certificates forgery case against Pastor Umo Bassey Eno.
In her judgement, Justice Agatha Okeke, who presided, dismissed the case for lacking in merit. The judge said all the claims by the plaintiff were based on assumption and speculations.
As we speak, Akan Okon is in the Appeal Court, insisting on the invalidation of Pastor Umo Eno’s candidacy. We wait and see the outcome. Assuredly, Pastor Umo Eno will triumph over these judicial conspiracies all of which are politically inspired
I have heard people argue that, Pastor Umo Eno shouldn’t hire Senior Advocates of Nigeria to handle his briefs if he wasn’t guilty as bandied by political opponents. What a daft reasoning. Alas, what played out in Abuja Magistrate Court is enough to warn the unwary, that, anyone can be ambushed and the Judiciary can be exploited as landmine(s) to demolish the unsuspecting.
Little wonder we have so many innocent people in prisons awaiting trial or convicted for what they know nothing about. Let me end this submission by aligning completely with what my learned friend, Ewa Edmund Okpo II, said in describing the Judiciary and judicial processes. Hear him: “The Lady of Justice, though blind, must be wooed, charmed, courted, patronised, and worshipped to be blessed”.
I’m sure Pastor Umo Eno’s experience in the Edet Godwin Etim case demonstrates to us all, why we shouldn’t treat any gimmicks of the wicked through the Courts with kid gloves.