The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), one of Nigeria’s foremost and oldest civic societies, has alerted security agencies of plans by one of the leading political parties in Enugu State to unleash violence on voters in the state as well as corrupt the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to announce a false result of Saturday’s gubernatorial and state legislative elections.
In letters to the state Commissioner of Police, the Director of State Security (DSS) in the state as well as the INEC authorities, the CLO pointedly accuses the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State and the Peter Mbah Campaign Organisation of having concluded plans to “thwart the collective will of the Enugu people through violence and corruption which they call the APC (All Progressives Congress) playbook used to mar the February 25, 2023, presidential and federal legislative elections in favour of the ruling APC”.
According to the letters signed by the CLO chairman, Dr Geofrey Ndu, and the secretary, Comrade John Okechukwu, both the PDP and the Peter Mbah Campaign reached the decision last week in the belief that it is the only means through which they could retain power in the face of mass disaffection in Enugu State after 24 years of power.
“If the APC”, they reasoned at the meeting held in Mbah’s residence in Enugu, “could get away with the blue murder of the February 25 election because of the incumbency factor at the national level, we, too, could do something at the state level because we are the incumbent administration”.
The PDP chiefs in the state are alarmed at the result of the presidential and federal legislative elections in which the Labour Party (LP) won seven of the eight House of Representatives seats in the state and Okey Ezea defeated Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi by 104, 492 to 46,948 votes.
The PDP leaders expressed surprise that not even the assassination of the LP candidate for the Enugu East senatorial race, Oyibo Victor Chukwu, an ex-chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), could dampen the enthusiasm of LP supporters from mobilising voters in the state, according to an anonymous PDP member who took part in the meeting but has since joined the Labour Party. The senatorial election will now hold this weekend, with Sir Kelvin Chukwu, younger brother of the slain LP candidate, now taking the place of Oyibo Chukwu.
The CLO chiefs expressed deep concern that “no concrete action is known to have been taken on the detailed report provided on Friday, March 3, by the ex-Information Minister of Information, Chief Frank Nweke, himself a former top PDP executive, that the PDP administration in Enugu has been working in cahoots with the Enugu State INEC staff led by Mrs Ifenna Onoh to the extent of having a permanent suite at Fontana Hotel in Independence Layout, Enugu, where they meet regularly for all manner of things, including compromising INEC’s ICT staff for purposes of rigging elections”.
The civil society alleged that the PDP candidate has “so desperate for fear that the N13bn he borrowed from both Fidelity Bank and Polaris Bank to prosecute the election is going up in smoke”.
It, therefore, called on the security agencies to be extra vigilant in Enugu during the election and on the INEC national leadership to monitor Mrs Onoh and other staff members.