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Anambra: INEC, Ngige, Obi in Secret Maneuver

Posted by By Yusuph Olaniyonu in Lagos and Charles Onyekamuo in Awka on 2005/08/24 | Views: 712 |

Anambra: INEC, Ngige, Obi in Secret Maneuver


Fresh intrigues aimed at controlling Anambra State governorship seat began at the weekend with the Indepe-ndent National Electoral Comm-ission (INEC) and the camps of Governor Chris Ngige and his opponent in the election petition case, Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) arrayed against each other.

Fresh intrigues aimed at controlling Anambra State governorship seat began at the weekend with the Indepe-ndent National Electoral Comm-ission (INEC) and the camps of Governor Chris Ngige and his opponent in the election petition case, Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) arrayed against each other.

While INEC is said to be opposed to the verdict of the Election Petition Tribunal which reversed its results of the April 19, 2003 governorship election in the state and is said to be contemplating appealing the decision, the camps of Ngige and Obi also see the electoral commission’s move as a sign of a plot by the Chris Uba group to get a fresh election conducted.

THISDAY gathered that INEC has briefed the chambers of Dr. Wale Babalakin, a Senior Advocate, to study the August 12 judgment of the tribunal and decide on the grounds of appeal.

Babalakin, the source said, will later this week file an appeal at the Court of Appeal on behalf of INEC against the election tribunal judgment which nullified Ngige’s election and declared Obi elected as governor of Anambra State based on the 2003 polls.

But supporters of Ngige and Obi who see the INEC move as a covert plan by the group led by Chris Uba, Ngige’s estran-ged godfather to truncate Obi’s victory and get their candidate into the State House have begun exploratory talks. The discussion is expected to the two sides working together to checkmate Uba.

According to a top source, the rapprochement between the Ngige and Obi camps came at the weekend at the behest of the latter.

The source said some strong supporters of Obi approached the Ngige camp after they heard that the governor fixed a meeting of some leaders of Anambra State for yesterday in Awka where the decision was to be taken on whether he should appeal the tribunal judgment or not.

Ngige, THISDAY, gathered had only given notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal, he has not actually filed his papers because, according to him, his lawyers are yet to obtain a copy of the full judgment delivered by Justice Garba Nabaruma.

At yesterday’s meeting in Awka, Ngige was said to have gotten the nod of the leaders who met with him to file an appeal before the 21 day expiration of the period of appeal.

The Obi camp is said to be exploring ways of halting Ngige’s plan to appeal by telling him to allow co-operation between the two camps in “the overall interest of the state”.

Members of the Obi camp involved in the exploratory talk are said to be telling Ngige’s supporters that the most important thing for the state now is to stop the Uba camp from succeeding in their plans to once again seize control the state.

According to the Obi camp, Obi camp, the Uba group had thought the tribunal would nullify the 2003 election and order fresh polls.

The plan of the group, it is believed, is for it to either present Chris Uba’s elder brother, Andy who is Personal Assistant on Domestic Affairs to President Olusegun Obasanjo or another member of the group as the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in a fresh election. The group is expected to roll out its machinery with the support from the Presidency to win the elections.

The Obi group reasoned that the decision of INEC to appeal against the tribunal verdict is another means of achieving what the Uba group failed to get at the tribunal.

A member of the Obi group yesterday confirmed to THISDAY that the two groups are having “exploratory talks”. He pointed out that the lawyer who has been briefed by INEC, Babalakin, is a close associate of Andy Uba.

It is believed that the talks between Ngige and Obi camps is aimed at creating a working relationship inwhich Ngige will not file an appeal and will eventually help Obi towin the confidence of the members of the State House of Assembly who are largely loyal to the incumbent governor.

“We know if Ngige co-operates and Obi becomes governor, another likely battle front is the House of Assembly, so we need to put that into reckoning from the beginning”, the source said.

The Obi camp is said to be assuring Ngige that they will continue the policies, programmes and projects he initiated while in office. The governor is also to be accorded a heroic role by the incoming administration in which he is expected to have some nominees.

However, in Awka where Ngige yesterday convened what he called the state’s stake holders meeting where he told participants that he had gone on appeal against the judgment and would pursue it ‘ferociously and tenaciously’.

Ngige who spoke to a crowd of Traditional Rulers, representatives of some registered parties in the state including PDP members loyal to him, and members of the State House of Assembly said he convened the meeting to tell them that the verdict of the tribunal was a judgment of man with all its “flaws and errors”, and not of God and should therefore not perturb them.

He said the judges of the lower tribunal were biased against him and wondered why the tribunal struck out the petition brought by the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) Governorship Candidate in the state, Chief George Muoghalu on non-joinder of some parties only for the same tribunal to uphold Mr. Peter Obi’s petition, which shared same semblance with that of Muoghalu.

“We called you people today to encourage you. The judgment you saw was the judgment of man and not of God. We looked at it and found all the flaws and errors and decided that we will go on appeal.

“Since the judgment, some people have been writing in the newspapers, especially “The Vanguard” that Ngige should not go on appeal because it will amount to wasting the state’s money and resources.

“But I consider that these people writing are not from Anambra State. It is you who are from Anambra state that will direct me. If you say I should not go on appeal, I go home, but from what I have seen, going on appeal is a step in the right direction.

“We are going to prosecute that appeal ferociously and tenaciously. We are going to prosecute it with the best Senior Advocates all over Nigeria. Already, we have recruited four more; and if the number we have assembled is not enough, we recruit more. We are going there (Appeal Court in Enugu) and we are hopeful we shall get justice”, he said.

He said Obi whom the court declared winner of the April 19, 2003 gubernatorial election in Anambra State did not win because according to Ngige there was over voting in Obi’s native Agulu Community.

“You see Peter Obi who the court declared winner in the elections didn’t win. He had over-voting in Agulu… he keeps saying, let’s go to the Pope and swear, which Pope? Let us not take the name of the Pope in vain. He is our Cardinal Pontiff. But one thing I know is that the verdict of the tribunal is bereft of logic and common sense.

“The Tribunal threw out ANPP candidate’s petition for non-joinder of necessary parties, but upheld Obi’s petition which is almost the same with Muoghalu’s petition on the same ground. I think they are biased; there is no logic in it.

I think it was the late Rotimi Williams who said that law is mainly a thing of common sense. I don’t think there was common sense in this judgment of the tribunal”, he said.

But in what looked like a contradiction of his assertion that Obi did not win the election, Ngige in another breath said he had before the judgment mobilized all shades of elders and public opinion leaders to persuade Obi to withdraw his petition so that he could concentrate on the development of the state. He added that his opponent failed to bulge even when he made concessions to him to accommodate his party men in his cabinet.

“That Peter Obi faction of APGA has been spoken to severally by Catholic Bishops, Labour Leaders, Market Leaders and the rest that they should come and negotiate so that we pay them off, and they nominate people into the cabinet, they go and we continue with our good works, but it was to no avail. They refused”, he said.

All those who spoke on the occasion, including Speaker of the House of Representatives in the botched Third Republic, Chief Agunwa Anekwe eulogized Ngige and urged him to proceed with his appeal.

Chief Okey Muo-Aroh, one of Ngige ‘s special Assistants who acted as the Master of Ceremony on the occasion said the idea of the meeting was to hear from the people and pass a resolution. He said the appeal must be won.
James Nwabia, the chairman of Labour party urged Ngige to continue with his appeal because he will triumph. Anambra people he said were behind him.

Dr. Okey Umeano, a dentist, and Chairman of Chekwas Okorie’s faction of APGA in Anambra State said his party offered Ngige support and membership because they believed in him. He wondered why the PDP should be denied the governorship after it won the National Assembly and House of Assembly elections in the state.

The Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Ozo Ughamadu said the legislators entered into a blood covenant covered in Jesus Christ with the governor soon after the abduction of July 10, 2003, and that nothing will make them abandon him.

But while reacting on the objective of the meeting, Coalition of Democratic and Civil Rights Group (CODECGS) in Anambra said it was absurd and wondered what Ngige intended to achieve with the meeting.

“Ngige has turned politics into a clownish fellowship of sentimentalists; praise singers and sycophants. I don’t know why the Ngige camp has chosen to dramatize their going to appeal. We don’t know what he intends to achieve by calling the people to sensitize them on his appeal." the group’s chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi told THISDAY.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.