Senator Bassey Edet Otu is a household name In Cross River politics, particularly in the Southern Senatorial District. Reputed as a grassroot politician, Senator Otu returned to Calabar recently into the warm hands of thousands of waiting supporters at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar. He spoke with CrossRiverWatch about his political journey so far, his next line of action and his tribunal case among others things.
Not Many politicians will still be as popular as you are months after leaving the office, what is the magic?
Whatever position you find yourself in life, try and justify it by making positive impact on your people, so that they on their own will buy into it and once they buy into it, it becomes part of them, that is exactly what you are seeing. In my own case, I have no body except God. My Wife and the people who truly believe in me that together we can change the society.
We have been hearing your supporters shouting “Still On The Matter”, what exactly were they saying, do you understand their slogan?
Yes I do, I am a grassroots politician you know; I understand them perfectly, ‘still on the matter’ means that the end has not been heard of our mandate stolen by the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the last Southern Senatorial District elections of March 28, 2015 in Cross River State. Despite the fact that the election tribunal which was supposed to look at the case on merit with clear evidences was sold out and gave what it called academic judgement even after it had disqualified itself, so we are still on the matter because we will follow the matter up to the Supreme Court.
Do you still believe that the judiciary can be bought in this Era of Buhari’s Government?
President Buhari is just one man with sound character and indisputable integrity, his body language on anti corruption is clear for all to see, but the bad eggs are still all over the places. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all the judges that are bad but few of them are out there soiling the name of the judiciary. So it’s better for them to change before change sweeps them under Buhari’s Government.
The President seems to have the interest of Cross River State at heart with his last official visit and the appointments made so far……… cut in
The President has demonstrated that truly he is for nobody and for everybody and he is using Cross River State as a litmus test for people to see that with political differences here in the down southern Nigeria, he is still for everyone; he has proved it. In my own senatorial district, President Muhammadu Buhari has recognized a daughter of the South as the Head of Service of the Federation, so I tell you from my heart (Owokorowo Owokorowo in Efik). from my heart, I have told and directed my supporters that we are ready to give all and total support to Buhari’s government, now moving forward, I can tell you that I have told my people that we have a working arrangement with the All Progressives Congress APC (Resounding Call for Change by his aides), we will not deal with people who did not recognize us and who are not ready to do good to the society. I have told them during my address that we will have some people remaining in Labor party including myself, but the large majority of them should move to APC where we are going to lock horns again not too far from now.
What makes your supporters still keep faith with you till now on this challenging political journey?
All of them have been part of my electoral journey because I’m part of them, we relate as brothers and sisters and most importantly, they have been part of the deliberations and proceedings in the tribunal from the beginning, I have already given them consolation that we won the case, that they should be convinced without any reasonable persuasion that we won the case.
You said the judges disagreed among themselves after the judgement, how do you mean?
Yes I said that because, already the judges are fighting among themselves that they were coaxed into giving that judgement. Some of them are even ready to come out with the true judgement, you know when you tamper with a child of God with a clear vision, what is happening now is not unexpected among the judges. Like I said we will get to the conclusion of that case.
Are you going to appeal the tribunal judgement?
Yes, we have done that already, I told you that we will follow that case up to the Supreme Court where we will seek an order of mandamus for the Supreme Court to tell the country whether it was right for an Appeal Court to set up an incompetent tribunal. Can’t u see that when they declared them winner at the court there was no jubilation? Everywhere was quiet; that alone says it all.
If the Appeal Court orders a rerun election in the local government in dispute or in all the seven local governments of the senatorial district, are you ready?
Look, we are ready and we will win anytime any day. I say so because the people are very pained with what is going on, we saw the impunity which the former governor behaved and people were struggling on how to outlive that pain, not knowing that the judiciary is even worse than any other participant in this particular case. Yes! People are despondent, people are dejected but we are giving them hope, because no country or state can grow without challenges and I believe at the end we are going to overcome and win for the people. If it means going for another election and another tribunal for another six months, we will go through it so that people can learn. I know that for them (PDP), they can forge results and defeat me but when it is proper election that people will vote, I will floor them any time any day.
The judiciary just like any other arms of government has its own bad eggs, but it’s not all of them in the judiciary that are bad and we are praying and hoping that we will still meet some of the old judges that are ready to respect the truth that the judiciary stands for and entrench democracy. So we hope the judiciary will right the wrongs because there is no injury without remedy, we didn’t set up the tribunal.
Finally, what will you say about the tribunal judges?
The tribunal was a very hopeless one, they knew what they were coming to do ab initio. The three judges cannot say they did not know that the former tribunal chairman was of the Customary Court who has little or no knowledge about the Evidence Act and criminal procedures among others; but they kept the secret until few days to the judgement date and when Paul Erokoro (SAN) brought the motion, I called our lawyers to ask for the matter begin afresh by way of motion in other not to disgrace the judiciary but because the judges want to justify the bribe collected, he adjourned ruling on that when our lawyer raised the motion, but the Nigerian judiciary will still have to decide on it because we are going to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion to serve as a reference point for others who think they can deprive innocent people their right of place in the society.
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