Democracy and the Trauma of Defeat: A Response to Sahara Reporters

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By Austin Tam-George
Since after the decisive victory of the Rivers State Governor Chief Nyesom Wike at the Supreme Court, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been experiencing a chronic form of psychological denialism that is both amusing and pitiful to watch.

The APC has reacted to the apex court’s judgement with shock, alarm, anger, resignation, and then more shock.

But now the party and its cowardly spokesmen and media surrogates are resorting to the blackmail of anyone, everyone and any institution that they believe might have “influenced” the apex court’s judgement in favour of Governor Wike.

Sahara Reporters, a mendacious online platform with sagging popularity, has written a report about how Governor Wike’s victory was purportedly engineered by Dr Peter Odili, a former Governor of Rivers State, and his wife Justice Mary Odili.

The report specifically alleges, without proof, that the Odilis masterminded the positive verdict for Governor Wike by the Supreme Court, through a series of illicit contacts with members of the apex court.

It alleges that the so-called judicial plot against the APC was hatched first at a funeral service in Mbaise in Imo State, then at a hotel in Oweri, and later in Dubai in Abu Dhabi.

Even by the standards of promiscuous journalism, Sahara Reporters is now in a class of its own.

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Throughout its scurrilous report, Sahara Reporters provides no proof of wrongful influence by the Odilis, or of perversion of justice by the Supreme Court justices.

No single reference was made to the sound legal grounds upon which the Supreme Court’s judgement was based.

We categorically deny and reject the allegation that Governor Wike or any anyone acting on his behalf had any contact whatsoever with the justices of the Supreme Court.

Were the favourable verdicts by the apex court for Akwa Ibom State, Abia State, Taraba State, etc, also hatched in Mbaise? Or were those plots orchestrated in the neighbouring community of Mbaitoli?

How come the Odilis were unable to influence the apex court’s earlier decision to relocate the sitting of the Election Petition Tribunal from Port Harcourt to Abuja, despite the strong arguments canvassed by Governor Wike’s legal team?

The owners of Sahara Reporters are hawkers of falsehood; they are disciples of Prof. Itse Sagay’s dubious jurisprudence where “Everyone knows”, and no evidence is needed.

For a party of “Change”, the All Progressives Congress has managed to make a complete mockery of itself in just eight months in office.

But its relentless attack on the Supreme Court is an assault on the rule of law and the administration of justice in Nigeria.

Psychologists may explain the APC’s irrational behaviour as understandable within the clinical context of trauma after defeat.

But Nigerians must be more vigilant. A political party that can only accept victory and not defeat is a dangerous extremist group.

Nigerians must condemn the APC’s assault on our evolving democracy and the judicial institutions that support it.

• Dr. Tam-George is the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Rivers State‎

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