All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Senatorial Candidate for Anambra Central, Prof. Dora Akunyili, has lashed out at Dr. Chris Ngige and his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), accusing them of desperately seeking to intimidate the National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Awka with a view to perverting justice.
Akunyili, whose petition against Ngige is currently being heard by the tribunal, cited a statement circulated to Internet blogs yesterday by the Anambra State Chapter of ACN as the latest proof of the desperation of Ngige and his party to blackmail and intimidate the tribunal.
“My attention has been drawn to a statement issued yesterday, February 13, by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Anambra State Chapter, and circulated among Internet blogs, in which Anambra ACN announced that it has set up and is training a ‘Judiciary Vigilante’ charged with policing the National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Awka,” Akunyili said in a statement signed by her media aide, Mr. Isaac Umunna.
“The task of the vigilante, according to the statement entitled ‘ACN sets up, trains Judiciary Vigilante’, ‘is to keep a watch on the Judiciary closely and pay attention to some special persons so designated to ensure that the adjudication currently on-going in the ill-fated petition of Dora Akunyili is above board.’ ACN also claimed that my case/that of my party, APGA, against the announcement of Dr. Chris Ngige as the winner of the April 2011 Anambra Central Senatorial District election has collapsed. By so doing, the ACN has arrogated to itself the power to decide the verdict of the tribunal,” Akunyili added.
The former NAFDAC Director-General expressed shock over “the sheer arrogance and deliberate twisting of the facts by Dr. Ngige and the ACN in their desperation to confuse the public and poison people’s minds regarding the on-going sitting of the tribunal. Their ultimate aim, of course, is to blackmail and possibly intimidate the tribunal with a view to getting it to endorse his stolen mandate. They had earlier written a petition against the panel, vowing to ensure its disbandment, only to apologise before the panel and claim that they didn’t know who wrote the petition.”
Akunyili, who is the immediate past Information and Communications Minister, accused Ngige and his camp of having sustained an unhealthy propaganda war on the tribunal for too long. She noted that “the propaganda war started when they recruited Dr. Alex Anene, the new Returning Officer for the first election held on April 9, 2011, to orchestrate a stalemate and cause a re-run in some places instead of announcing the authentic results that gave me a clear victory.” Expressing happiness that “the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Matters Commission (ICPC) has started investigating the activities of Anene during that election,” Akunyili said “it is obvious that he could not have done what he did without being paid. I look forward to the conclusion of the investigation, which I believe is also of interest to the rest of the world.”
The APGA flag bearer lamented that “since after the election, it has been lies upon lies by Dr. Ngige and his team of propagandists,” adding: “I largely kept quiet out of my conviction that the truth will surface at the tribunal, which is made up of honourable men and women whom I trust will courageously render justice no matter how many attempts are made by my opponent to blackmail and intimidate the tribunal.”
According to her, “the first lie told by Ngige’s camp was that I had promised not to challenge his purported victory. I never made any such pronouncement – I possibly couldn’t have because the rigging was so blatant that I was in shock and could hardly believe it.
“When I eventually went to court to seek justice, Ngige panicked and resorted to desperate attempts to ensure that the case was not heard based on technicalities and in contradiction of the Electoral Act. We have gone on appeal five times and we won in all cases.”
Akunyili observed that now that the tribunal is hearing her case on merit, “Ngige and his people are panicking because they have seen the handwriting on the wall.” She accused them of sponsoring twisted versions of what transpired at the tribunal when she concluded her case with her personal testimony last Wednesday, February 8.
According to Akunyili, “While I am challenging figures awarded to Ngige in 15 wards, the defence team produced exhibit indicating that I scored 90 votes in Agulu ward three but was wrongly credited with 190 (extra hundred votes). This does not in any way damage my argument that I won the simple majority of lawful votes cast during the 2011 April poll. I am therefore confident that the tribunal will ensure that justice is done by declaring me the winner because I won by simple majority but was denied victory by the padding of Ngige’s results in 15 wards.
“My legal team, my witnesses I have made our point and tendered relevant documents before the honourable tribunal. The course of wisdom is for Ngige and his people to present and defend their own evidence when the tribunal resumes sitting on Friday, February 17. Their resort to propaganda and trial of the case on the pages of newspapers and on the Internet betray the fact that they have a bad case. As I said during my testimony before the tribunal, I care only for the right thing to be done.”
Expressing her conviction that “God is still on the throne,” Akunyili said: “I remain confident that, as a God of justice, he will ensure that we get justice at the end, Ngige’s antics notwithstanding.”
SA Media to Prof. Dora Akunyili