By Comfort Obi ( The Source)
Idon’t know if you still remember this man. The man who, even though he had occupied a high office in our Country, still, publicly, exhibits his crude character; the man who has just chewed more than he can swallow by completely rubbishing, without any proof of evidence, Nigeria’s Court of Appeal, its Leadership, its Judges, and deliberately painted, especially, the character of one of Nigeria’s most accomplished female Judges with tar.
He goes by the name, Elisha Abbo and, sadly, prefixes that name with “Senator.” Not a few people, since he was removed from office, and remembering a couple of his actions now refer to him as “Extinguished Senator.”
If you don’t remember him, you are not to be blamed. You shouldn’t worry. He does not deserve the honour of being remembered, especially, by those who care about character, depth, self- respect, and self-control. People like Abbo, whose recklessness when they talk stink to high heavens, and who are usually in the news for one embarrassing behavior or the other are, for sanity’s sake, better forgotten than remembered.
However, for the purpose of this write-up, bear with me for a brief re-introduction of the man when he chooses, which has worrisomely become frequent, is a bull in a china shop.
Elisha Abbo was the Senator who represented Adamawa North until he was sacked by the Court of Appeal after he was sworn-in for a second term in office.
Not a few people were shocked that Abbo was allowed to become a Senator in 2019. Sure, he won the election then, but he didn’t deserve to be sworn-in. He stripped himself of that privilege when he fell, with his eyes open, from the olympian height to the gutter. It was when he, as a Senator-elect, did the unbelievable. The unprecedented. And should have quietly stood down as a Senator-elect.
Here’s what he did.
While waiting to be sworn-in, Abbo gave notice of his character. He shamed the hallowed Chambers before he even stepped into it. While his colleagues were preparing for the big day, the day they would be sworn-in as Distinguished Senators, Abbo went to an adult shop in Abuja to buy a s*x toy where he exhibited the trait of a bull in a china shop.
We never really got to know what the problem was. Or what transpired between the then Senator-elect and the sales girl. Perhaps, they were haggling over the price. Or the size. But before one could say jack, Senator-elect Abbo had descended on the poor girl. He went physical. The scandal was too much. Its smell rose to high heavens.
That behavior earned him days at a conventional Court, as well as the public Court. In the public Court, outraged Nigerians trounced and trashed him. But finally to everybody’s dismay, Abbo was sworn-in as a Senator even after some, rightly, scandalized women protested.
Initially, Abbo had no regrets over the incident. When the Senate set up a Panel, headed by Senator Oluremi Tinubu to investigate the adult-shop incident, Abbo insulted and talked down on her. Now, the woman she treated with so much disrespect, then, is today, Nigeria’s First Lady.
Later, Abbo apologized, allegedly, on the insistence of his political mentor, Atiku Abubakar, the man whose party, the PDP, Abbo later ditched for the APC.
I hate to think how decent people in other climes looked at Nigeria after Abbo was sworn-in as a Senator. For, such could have happened only in Nigeria.
In more civilized climes, in climes which care about the character of their leaders, especially, one going to the Senate to make laws, nobody would swear Abbo in as a Senator. He should have stood down on his own, and apologized for his disgraceful behavior.
In the aftermath, a number of people blamed the Courts for sparing Abbo. Many women felt let down.
Many were ashamed on Abbo’s behalf, and on behalf of Nigeria, that a man who went physical with a sales girl in an adult shop was sworn-in as a Senator. They felt it put a tar on the high profile office of a Senator. But as they say, it is what it is.
So, how did Abbo perform as a Senator?
I may have missed it, but I didn’t hear much of Abbo’s accomplishments in the Senate. And I didn’t quite hear much of him until he played to the gallery during the 2023 Presidential campaign. He resigned as a member of the Tinubu/Shettima Campaign team to which he was appointed because, according to him, as a Christian, he couldn’t quite campaign for a Muslim- Muslim ticket. When he resigned, he enjoyed a few days of fame which quickly fizzled out because the APC Presidential campaign Team pointedly ignored him.
But this man seems to enjoy his minutes of fame before he descends into the abyss. He clings to straws when he is drowning. He picks on innocent people. After the sales girl, after Senator Tinubu, after Tinubu/Shettima, his next target was the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio. Sacked by the Appeal Court from the Senate, Abbo addressed a Press Conference and heaped his woes on Akpabio. He said it was Akpabio who engineered his sack from the Senate because he was not in support of Akpabio’s aspiration to lead the Senate. A couple of days later, Abbo apologized to Akpabio, and pleaded that he was a victim of misinformation. He was forgiven.
But Abbo, it seems, suffers from a diarrhea of the mouth. Those who know him allege he talks before he thinks. Perhaps, they are right because, Abbo has spoken again before thinking.
On 1st February, 2024, he went to town with outlandish allegations against Judges of the second highest Court in the land. The attack was unprovoked. And unprecedented.
A three-man Panel of the Court of Appeal threw him out of the Senate many weeks ago. But on February 1, Abbo suddenly realized he was no longer a Senator, and descended on the Court and its Judges.
At a press conference, he went overboard. He swam in the gutter and picked gutter words. He painted the Court of Appeal in tar. He publicly dismissed all the Judges of the Court as corrupt. He rubbished all the judgments given under the Presidency of Honourable Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem. He called her corrupt. A bribe taker. He alleged that under her, the Appeal Court has become a bazaar of sorts where justice goes to the highest bidder. He said the Justices usually send their children and cronies to those (politicians) who have cases against them for “deals”. He accused them of something comparable to the dirty old saying: “money for hand, back for ground.”
After dragging the Court and its President, he reserved a special treatment for the Honourable Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme.
The Imo State-born Nwosu-Iheme, a no-nonsense Judge, has just been elevated to the Supreme Court. Nominated and confirmed along with 10 others, and waiting to be sworn-in, Abbo appealed to President Bola Tinubu to withdraw her confirmation and elevation to the Supreme Court.
Nwosu-Iheme was the Chairman of the Appeal Court Panel which sacked Abbo from the Senate.
So, Abbo dragged her, a woman he does not really know, and would never know; a woman whose achievements and accomplishments tower above Abbo; the first, if not the only female Judge in Nigeria to earn a PhD; an absolutely, according to not a few people, fearless and courageous Judge.
It is difficult to know why Abbo, specifically, picked on Justice Iheme-Nwosu. She was not the only Judge on the Panel. There were three of them. She could not have lorded it over the other two. Or forced them to sack Abbo. They were at liberty to disagree with the judgement. Isn’t that why there are minority or dissenting judgements when the Judges don’t agree on a decision? Nwosu-Iheme’s only crime is that she was the one who read the judgment. Isn’t it amazing that Abbo was so ignorant he didn’t know Nwosu-Iheme was in no position to influence the judgement which threw him out of the Senate?; that the judgement was a collective decision, unanimous?
And here is the most ridiculous.
Abbo alleged that the judgement which was read to sack him was not what was originally written; meaning that the original judgement was substituted. He said he has a recorded version of the judgement read in Court, and is in possession of the “correct version”. He said they were different. He did not say how and where. So, will he please avail us with both.
My elementary understanding is that in appeals, not everything written is read out in Court else it would last for hours. Only the introduction and the decision are read. The rest is contained in the Certified True Copy, CTC, for interested parties to pick.
The only reason I can adduce is envy. He doesn’t understand Justice Nwosu-Iheme’s rich resumè. He doesn’t understand how she made an all-round success of her life. Perhaps, Abbo abhors successful women. Senator Oluremi Tinubu. Honourable Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem. Honourable Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme. Let’s leave the poor sales girl here. In that order, Abbo has tackled and ran them down.
But nobody should blame Abbo. For too long, Nigerians have allowed a number of unscrupulous politicians to destroy everything we hold sacred. Every of our values. They destroyed our polity. They destroyed our youths. They destroyed our culture. They took away our innocence and our self-esteem. They reduced us to a state of helplessness and hopelessness.
They have so defamed and desecrated our Judiciary that our Judges, our Judicial Officers, most of them, decent, brilliant and hard working, have been reduced to nothing. They have degraded our Judiciary and made it a laughing stock within and outside the country.
When politicians win a case, they praise the Judiciary for being the hope of the common man, the pillar of democracy. But when they lose, they descend on it and dismiss it as corrupt.
I have always wondered why Judicial Officers don’t defend themselves; why they don’t sue those who defame and libel them; and why the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, keeps quiet, and does nothing in the face of such brazen and reckless allegation against Judicial Officers like Abbo’s. In one fell swoop, Abbo rubbished the Court of Appeal.
When Olumide Akpata was the NBA President, he tackled the then Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, when he tried to rubbish a Federal Judge. Umahi was forced to apologize.
Question is: Why is everybody letting people like Abbo get away with shaming our Judicial Officers before the world?
Abbo’s allegations are weighty. He should be invited to provide proof. He who alleges must prove. He should provide evidence and make public the names of the Judges who send their children and cronies to collect money for them from politicians. He should provide the names of Judges who had ever asked him for gratification or asked any of his colleagues for same.Otherwise, here are what Abbo owes:
A public apology to the President of the Appeal Court, the Honourable Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem.
A public apology to the Honourable Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, Supreme Court Justice-designate.
A public apology to the Judges of the Appeal Court.
If he fails, Senator Abbo should be sued for everything he has got. That could earn him a seat where he should have been sitting on after his scandalous outing and public exhibition at that adult shop in Abuja.
As they say, the ball is in his court. Your proof “Extinguished Senator”, your proof.