As the general elections remains few weeks away, facts are beginning to emerge on the plans of insiders in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to scuttle President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid and frustrate the electoral fortunes of State and National Assembly candidates loyal to him, including those from Anambra State.
It is important to point out that the heavy weights being schemed out at the instance of a group led by Ejike Oguebego, a loyalist of Chief Chris Uba in complicity with INEC officials synchronized by the duo of Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku and Barrister Bawa are those who can swing votes in favour of the President and PDP in Anambra State.
Investigation by our reporter revealed that part of the moves to stop President Jonathan from coasting home to victory in the forthcoming Presidential election billed for February 14, this year was the complicity of the electoral commission with the Oguebego-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to botch a court order.
Recall that, in the run-up to the 2015 general elections, Mr. Oguebego faction of the PDP in Anambra State had obtained an order of the Federal High Court presided by Justice Chukwu in which the court recognized Oguebego-led PDP in the State and whatever list of candidates emanating from it.
Specifically, the Justice Chukwu’s Federal High Court judgment order in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/854/2014 in Paragraph 5 states as follows: That the 2nd defendant (INEC), its agents, servants, privies, assigns, officials, whatsoever name they may be called, are restrained from accepting or receiving any delegate list or nominated candidates that may emerge from the congresses or primaries conducted by the Caretaker Committee set up by the 1st defendant (PDP) for the PDP, Anambra State Chapter, except those that may emanate from the plaintiff (Oguebego).
By this order, it means that if PDP sends any list to INEC that is not from Oguebego, INEC is restrained from accepting the list.
However, in the process of nominating candidates for the general elections, an exparte judgment was obtained at the FCT High Court of equal jurisdiction ordering the PDP on one hand to submit to INEC the names of Senator Andy Uba, Hon. Mrs Uche Ekwunife and Princes Stella Oduah as senatorial candidates for Anambra South, Central and North districts and on the other hand ordering INEC to process and publish the said names.
INEC believed to have been compromised dilly-dallied and did not publish the names of senator Uba, Ekwunife and Oduah until the order expired.
Operationally, legal minds are of the opinion that the court judgment earlier obtained by Oguebego did not give any specific or direct order to INEC and the electoral commission has no power or authority to collect list of candidates from a State Chapter of the party contrary to well-established position of the law of the land, the Electoral Act and Supreme Court of the land, that ruled that it is only the National Chairman and National Secretary of a Party that can submit list of its candidates to INEC.
It is an accepted position in law that any law that conflicts with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is rendered null and void and of no effect.
This position, may have informed the contention of those who stand by the decision of Senator Uba, Hon (Mrs) Ekwunife and Princess Oduah to go ahead with their campaigns, stressing that only the National leadership of the party represented by its National Chairman and National Secretary that should submit names of its candidates for the election.
But Chief Chris Uba’s moles in INEC, particularly Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku, the INEC’s Commissioner for the South East zone and Barrister Bawa, the acting Director of Legal Department think otherwise and are frustrating National Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega’s desire to obey the Supreme Court interpretation of the law to wit, that the National Chairman and National Secretary of a party are the only officials of a political party mandated to submit names of its candidates to INEC .
Against the backdrop of the two conflicting orders, and desire of Professor Jega to toe legal line to implement the Supreme Court order, the duo of Nwuruku and Bawa, according to sources, asked Chief Chris Uba to file a contempt proceedings against the National Chairman of INEC to use it to deceive him and create the impression that the commission is disobeying a lawful court order.
This gambit, it was gathered, was what prompted Jega to remove his hands from the matter and allow the Legal Department to have its way to interpret the Justice Chukwu’s court order to allow the Oguebego group to favour Chief Chris Uba, Senator Annie Okonkwo and John Emeka for the Senate seats, among others.
In addition, to the Legal Department, INEC has the Delta State-born Ire Miren as Head of the Legal Services Committee which has five Commissioners including Nwuruku from Ebonyi State who was asked to share the ‘dirty money’ from the hatchet job running into about one hundred million to other members for a job well done, though some officials denied ever receiving the money. It was gathered that he collected close to N200 million from the political godfather gunning for elective post in Abuja from which he was able to put up one of the best mansions in the South-East geo-political zone.
Insiders in INEC, still make a jest of the situation that when Jega led INEC chieftains to a wedding ceremony of Ambassador Nwuruku’s daughter at his country-homein December, last year, the INEC National Chairman was baffled to discovered the magnificent edifice put up by his junior officer the source of which is a subject of secret probe, according to an insider who leaded anonymity.
Ambassador Nwuruku’s accomplice, Bawa is said to perpetrate sleaze with impunity especially in money laundering believable through the Alhaji Wase who operates Bureau de Change near Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
The move to push the Oguebego list at the instance of Nwuruku and Bawa, according to a source, unsettled the Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim who had preferred the former Aviation Minister, Princess Oduah to former Transport Minister of State, Chief Emeka, a brother to former Deputy Governor, Chinedu Emeka.
According to information made available to our reporter, Senator Anyim contacted his kinsman, Nwuruku on 12th January this year on his interest to have Princess Oduah to replace Chief Emeka as the Senatorial candidate of the PDP for Anambra North in Oguebego list, but Nwuruku pointedly told the SGF that he could only do so with the consent of Chief Chris Ubah.
On account of this, a meeting between Senator Anyim and Chief Chris Uba, it was learnt, was arranged by Nwuruku for the interested parties and held at Chris Uba’s Asokoro residence in Abuja, but it could not achieve any purpose because the deadline had elapsed for substitution and Chief Emeka refused any underground move to substitute his name.
The fear now, pundits observe, is that, given the fact that the Legal Department of INEC is the engine room of the Commission and is involved in the intrigues and monumental sleeze, the 2015 elections may be bungled and not be free and fair, if these characters are not sanitized.