Senate Seat: I Remain Resolute, Cannot Be Intimidated, Linus Okorie Reacts to Appeal Court Judgement
Hon. Linus Okorie, the Labour Party (LP) Senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South in the February 25, 2023 National Assembly election has reacted to the ruling of the Appeal Court sitting in Lagos that affirmed the declaration of the former governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi as the Senator for Ebonyi South.
The appellate court on Friday in Lagos dismissed the appeals filed both Hon. Okorie and his counterpart, Senator Michael Amah Nnachi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his reaction contained in a statement he personally signed on Tuesday, Hon. Okorie said he accepts the ruling of the Appeal Court, but also expressed reservation over the prioritization of “technicality” over the overwhelming evidences presented before the court.
The former federal lawmaker, however, reiterated his resolve to remain resolute in the pursuit of his ambition and public-spirited causes. He maintained that despite his travails in the hands of those who have arrogated powers to themselves, he remained focused on carrying out the wishes of the people.
“It is unfortunate that the tribunal and, more recently, the court of appeal chose technicality over substantial justice and dismissed our case and quest for justice.
“Whatever influenced or motivated those decision is no longer important. As much as I disagree with the said decision, I accept it; being an apostle of the rule law and democracy,” the statement read in part.
Hinting at his next line of action, Hon. Okorie stated he shall make his decision known after due consultation with his constituents:
“I have been inundated by many who want to know my next line of action, whether or not I will participate in the forthcoming re-run.
“My answer remains the same: being a product of the people’s will, it is the people that will determine my next move. I have commenced appropriate consultations, the outcome of which will determine my eventual decision and shall also be made public.
“Let me reiterate also my total lack of desperation in the ongoing political contest. But even at that, I stand strongly that the Re-run should center on justice, equity and fairness. These are cardinal ingredients of democracy. From the current power equation in Ebonyi South zone, it’s just and fair that it’s the turn of Onicha to produce the next Senator of the zone.
Okorie who recounted his ordeals in the hands of the now disbanded Ebubeagu militia of the then Governor Umahi thanked the people of Ebonyi South for their genuine and unflinching support. He said that he has forgiven all those who took part in tormenting him, especially the family and associates of the former governor of Ebonyi State.
His full statement reads:
Ebonyi South Senatorial Election: The Journey so far, Gratitude and Prospects.
Before I proceed, let me put on record my inestimable appreciation and debt of gratitude to you, the excellent people of Ebonyi South, for the unquantifiable support and solidarity before, during and after the 2023 Senatorial Elections.
Recall that on October 16, 2022, the #Ebubeagumilitia of former Governor David Umahi Nweze abducted me to their Old Government House, Abakaliki base; with a clear intent to kill me.
In their custody; I was tortured, assaulted, dehumanized and stripped naked while being video recorded live for ex-governor Umahi’s primitive entertainment. They minced no words in revealing that my only offense was daring to challenge Umahi in the then forthcoming 2023 Ebonyi South Senatorial contest. Upon my rescue from their dungeon half-a-day later, the same Umahi pressurized the then Commissioner of Police to arraign me before another incapacitated magistrate who threw me into jail for 6 weeks on a trumped-up murder charge, that I only learnt of while on the dock. I am alive and free today because you stood up for me.
While it is practically impossible to list by name all the angels in human form that used to secure my freedom and undertake the elections, I must specifically defer to the great and brave people of Onicha Igboeze (men, women, youths at home and abroad) who repeatedly proved themselves warriors and people of impeccable integrity. Indeed every clan and people stood up for me; the state was united as one by my travail; and I eternal grateful.
To all other champions of my struggle and freedom, whose names I plead not to list here because of the risk of missing out many, this is me saying thank you. You took bullets for me, sacrificed your comfort and relationships. You stood firmly to tell truth to power at grave personal risks and championed the cause beyond the boundaries of the state and the nation. I also extend immeasurable gratitude to the media and also the judiciary.
Then of course, my wife, the super champion of the struggle.
I say a special thank you to each and everyone of you. God used you to save my life and to where we are today.
To Umahi and his team of tormentors and promoters, I bear no grudge; having long forgiven all. Karma and vengeance, which belong to God, are not mine to serve. This is despite the fact that their torture and brigandage resulted in my permanent loss of my right eye vision. In plain language, former Gov Umahi and his terror group blinded my right eye; yet I forgive them!
On February 25, 2023, the Presidential/National Assembly Elections were held across the nation; Ebonyi South inclusive. The people enthusiastically went to the polls to cast their votes based on the many “reformatory provisions” of the 2022 Electoral Act; which had raised hopes of a free, fair and credible elections.
Nigerians, as indeed the whole democratic world, looked up to INEC to deliver on its core mandate. On that score, you trooped out to cast your votes, stood-by for the votes to be counted and went home happy that your votes had counted. You were sure, and it was well known, that you had elected me to represent you.
On Sunday February 26, 2023; how shocked you were to learn that some compromised staff of INEC had sold their soul to the devil and announced a loser, who came a distant third position, as your elected Senator. In proof of your disapproval, the district went into a traumatic coma rather erupting in celebration. Democracy had been raped and your mandate stolen. Across the country, the story was same; a litany of electoral miscarriages. INEC had failed the nation!
In my immediate reaction to that grand electoral heist on February 27, 2023 at the State INEC headquarters, I pledged that your stolen mandate shall be retrieved. To realize that solemn vow, I approached the Election Tribunal to ventilate our collective grievances.
In their desperation to manufacture evidence in defense of our factual complaints before the tribunal, the Mandate-thieves attached a forged INEC BVAS Backend Report to their reply; in the forlorn hope that we shall not detect their criminal act. However, we promptly caught them in the act and took steps to verify the document, which INEC promptly denied and confirmed as not being from them; hence the act of forgery. We also petitioned the IGP to investigate and prosecute them for the forgery (same petition remains alive and pending as time does not run against crime).
For this reason, the illegally declared winner panicked and abandoned the seat for an executive appointment.
At that point, our pledge of retrieving your solemn mandate was effectively fulfilled. It also meant that the Tribunal could thereafter take only one of two decisions: reverse the jaundiced electoral manipulation or in the worst case; put the power back in your hands to elect the Senator to represent our people; which they finally did.
It is unfortunate that the tribunal and, more recently, the court of appeal chose technicality over substantial justice and dismissed our case and quest for justice.
Whatever influenced or motivated those decision is no longer important. As much as I disagree with the said decision, I accept it; being an apostle of the rule law and democracy.
I am particularly satisfied that I stood the course and fought with grit against the enormous forces and obstacles amassed against me. We stood this election against a sitting governor and with all the naked manipulations, he could only lead with a paltry 2,882 votes!
I have worked with integrity, sacrificing wealth and comfort. I neither compromised nor sold out against the people. My head is held very high!
Having exhausted the judicial window for remedy, the Ebonyi South Election shall now be re-conducted by INEC, with all political parties at liberty to participate. The immediate take away, therefrom, is that unlike most districts, Ebonyi South now has another opportunity to elect her Senator; the INEC imposed beneficiary having been forced out of the contest. That alone is a massive victory for democracy.
Within the next 90 days, INEC shall conduct a fresh election in Ebonyi South and the decision as to who becomes the Senator shall be yours. The forthcoming election represents our collective victory and opportunity to permanently bury the primitive push for a selfish family dynasty!
Happily, critical lessons have been learnt by all stakeholders from the February election and should be collectively applied to improve the electoral outcome this time around. By so doing, the people will ensure that the rightfully elected candidate is declared after the re-run election. My humble appeal is that we remain motivated, active and vigilant to protect the will of the people when the re-run eventually holds.
I have been inundated by many who want to know my next line of action, whether or not I will participate in the forthcoming re-run.
My answer remains the same: being a product of the people’s will, it is the people that will determine my next move. I have commenced appropriate consultations, the outcome of which will determine my eventual decision and shall also be made public.
Let me reiterate also my total lack of desperation in the ongoing political contest. But even at that, I stand strongly that the Re-run should center on justice, equity and fairness. These are cardinal ingredients of democracy. From the current power equation in Ebonyi South zone, it’s just and fair that it’s the turn of Onicha to produce the next Senator of the zone.
Importantly, I will never succumb to any form of intimidation, persecution or manufactured challenges so long as I continue to enjoy the backing of the people.
Finally, whatever position you adopt in the forthcoming re-run, remember that Ebonyi South belongs to all of us, our children and coming generations.
It has never been and should not be allowed to become a family dynasty or the fiefdom of any self-styled political tin-god; while other families and their descendants are condemned to eternal slavery and servitude.
The foundational essence of democracy is the intrinsic opportunity for the son of a nobody to become somebody, in contrast to monarchial tyranny where servitude to the King and his narrow lineage is the perpetual affliction and inheritance of the majority population.
Let us be wise and alert to the dangers of acquiescing to the scheming plots of neo-colonialists simply because we are too scared to either confront them or speak out against budding evil.
In the words of Prof. Wole Soyinka, “the man dies in him who keeps silent when it matters most.” Speak out for democracy in Ebonyi South, nay Ebonyi State and Nigeria.
Let democracy win!
Rep. Linus Okorie,FCA
Ebonyi South LP Senatorial Candidate