The contest for the Anambra gubernatorial race has become a muddled and confusing exercise for the electorate and the informed experts in Nigerian electoral laws. This is particular with the exercise to produce the candidate for the All Progressive Grand Alliance [APGA] – of which the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo was elected by the APGA led by the National Chairman, Chief Victor Oye following a primary election.
The primary election was followed by the submittal of the selected gubernatorial candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] through electronic means.
To enable the party transmit their gubernatorial candidate to the INEC, the INEC had devised a mechanism. The mechanism required the INEC to generate a special secret code to be made available to the party national chairman to enable the party to log on to the INEC online platform to download the necessary form for the gubernatorial candidate and the deputy gubernatorial candidate.
The INEC made the secret code available to Chief Victor Oye at the capacity of the national chairman of the APGA. The code was used to download the forms for the gubernatorial candidate and the deputy on July 2, 2021. The forms were filled out by the candidate and the deputy. Another code was generated by the INEC and made available to the party national chairman – to enable him submit forms online to the INEC platform. Both forms were submitted by Chief Oye on July 2, 2021. A confirmation of receipt was generated and delivered to the party national chairman. On the same day, a hard copy of the forms were delivered to the INEC office in Abuja.
As expected, the INEC was bound to publish the names of the party’s candidate seven days after the names are submitted to the INEC. In APGA’s case, the names were to be published on July 9, 2021.
But INEC did not.
Rather, INEC waited till July 16, 2021 to publish the names – for reasons known only to the top officials of the Commission.
The publication of names came following suspicious actions of a group led by an aggrieved member of the APGA who was disqualified during the gubernatorial screening exercise of the APGA, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji. The group had secretly approached a federal high court in Jigawa State to stage a near criminal overtake of the process undertaken by the APGA to select its gubernatorial candidate.
Hon. Umeoji acting in tandem with his in law – Jude Okeke – who he presented as the new factional chairman of APGA – brought an Alhaji Aliyu to sue Jude Okeke claiming to be the national chairman of APGA.
In essence, Alhaji Aliyu approached the court in Jigawa State asking the Judge to declare him the substantive national chairman of APGA. And as planned, the Judge ruled Jude Okeke was the substantive national chairman of APGA. And that only candidates submitted by Jude Okeke were to be accepted by INEC.
Upon receiving the ‘near criminal’ ruling from the Jigawa State court house in Birini – the group led by Hon. Umeoji approached some of INEC officials in secret. 247ureports.com have it on good authority the Umeoji group “reached” an understanding with the officials of INEC – who advised the Umeoji’s group to keep the judgement/ruling a secret to enable the INEC publish the list of candidates without the Oye led APGA having a chance to response to the Jigawa State ruling.
The compromised INEC officials advised the Umeoji group to preempt the Oye group by going ahead to filed an appeal against the ruling of the Jigawa State court. As advised, the Umeoji group approached a court in Kano State. The same Alhaji Aliyu filed an appeal there.
As the appeal was being filed, the INEC published the list of candidates – replacing the names of Professor Soludo and Dr. Ibezim with that of Hon. Umeoji and Lilian Orogbu. They skillfully cited the court order for the replacement.
With this action, the INEC was thrown into turmoil, internal turmoil. It became certain officials of the INEC had been compromised by the aggrieved gubernatorial aspirant of the APGA. The colleagues who were left out of the deal [two of them] were unsettled.
247ureports.com gathered monies were distributed in large amounts to keep the plot secret from the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, the INEC recognized national chairman of APGA, Victor Oye, the chosen APGA gubernatorial candidate, Chukwuma Soludo – and other members of APGA.
The Oye led APGA – expectedly – were shaken up by the action of the compromised INEC. The Governor of Anambra State who was in Houston, Texas USA having a brief vacation was taken unaware. The same for Professor Chukwuma Soludo who was having a rest in London, UK when the list was published.
As it appears, the Oye team find themselves playing catchup. They have since joined the Kano appeal suit brought about by the “Alhaji Aliyu”. The suit is to be heard on the 28th of July 2021. It is expected the appeal will reverse the ruling of the lower court ruling – knowing that Jude Okeke was never the national chairman of APGA.
Jude Okeke is not a card carrying member of APGA. “I have never met him before” says Victor Oye.
As a caveat, the emergence of Jude Okeke came about only after the gubernatorial aspirations of Hon. Chukwuma M. Umeoji failed. With only days after Umeoji was disqualified and his appeal to the Oye led APGA on his disqualification dismissed, Jude Okeke who is an in law to Umeoji moved to a hotel lobby in Utako, Abuja to declare the suspension of Chief Victor Oye as the national chairman of the APGA. Jude Okeke claimed he had convened a national executive council [NEC] meeting at the Abuja hotel.
However, according to the rules of the party as resolved in the last APGA national convention, and backed by the latest APGA constitution, only the national chairman of the party is to convene a NEC meeting. In addition, the NEC comprises of 680members of which includes the Governor of Anambra State, his deputy, all the commissioners, advisers and aides, all elected officials, political appointees, and board of trustees. None of which were present at the “NEC” meeting convened by the in-law to Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, Jude Okeke [Umeoji is married to the sister of Jude Okeke].
A competent source within officials of INEC told 247ureports.com some of the officials of INEC were successfully “reached” and compromised by associates of Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji to enable the plot to be successfully carried out. Unverified but credible source indicate properties were purchased for some of the INEC officials in Dubai in exchange for the role they will play in ensuring Umeoji’s name is published instead of Soludo’s name. It remains uncertain the extent the compromised INEC officials can affect the removal of Soludo’s name.
Meanwhile, Hon Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya – a member of the house of representative representing Albasu/Gaya/Ajingi in Kano State – who is involved in the amendment of the electoral act, frowned at the practice of obtaining suspicious court rulings from distant locations. He insisted a clause be included in the law to stop the practice. He stated that it aides illegality in the electoral system.
He cited the recent “jankara” ruling obtained by desperate politicians in like of the Umeoji group as a classic example. The honorable member from Kano sought for the clause to be included in the amendment to the electoral act.