The Independent National Electoral Commission ((INEC) today suddenly announced a new resident electoral commissioner to oversee the election in the Anambra South Senatorial District scheduled to hold tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s election was ordered by the Court of Appeal in Enugu after its judgment of December 2011 declared that Andy Uba was improperly declared the winner of the senatorial election held in April, 2011.
Tomorrow’s election will feature Mr. Uba, a highly corrupt domestic assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Chuma Nzeribe, a former member of the House of Representatives with an equal reputation for sleaziness. Mr. Uba is running on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party while Mr. Nzeribe, who was dismissed by a court from the House of Representatives, is the candidate of the All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA).
A source in INEC told SaharaReporters that today’s sudden removal of C.E. Onukaogu as the residential electoral commissioner and his replacement with Mike Igini “is part of our plan to ensure that tomorrow’s election is not rigged.” The source then stated that disclosed that the national headquarters of INEC had been briefed on the plans by one of the candidates to compromise tomorrow’s election.
Pressed to name the culpable candidate, the source was initially reluctant. But he finally revealed that “it is Chief Uba.”
INEC has revealed that Mr. Igini, an activist lawyer and resident electoral commissioner in Cross Rivers State, will conduct elections in 1,669 polling units in 118 registration areas.
Several sources in Awka as well as those within the camps of Mr. Uba and Mr. Nzeribe said they believed the removal of Mr. Onukaogu was aimed at checking and possibly frustrating Uba’s rigging plans. Those sources said Mr. Onukaogu, a professor, is known as a willing tool in the hands of wealthy politicians who want electoral results doctored.
Since his removal by the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Uba had tried to use corrupt means to regain the seat in the Senate and avoid an election. SaharaReporters reported on the former presidential aide’s offer of a N600 million bribe to Justice Dalhatu Adamu, the President of the Court of Appeal, and a few appellate justices in order to have a new panel of the court “review” and set aside the decision to remove him from the Senate.
Following the bribe, Justice Adamu had set up a new panel headed by Justice Sotonye Denton West to implement the corrupt judicial deal of rubbishing a judgment handed down by colleagues of equal rank. “By appointing the so-called review panel, Justice Adamu undermined the integrity of the judiciary,” said a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. She added: “It’s an unprecedented move in Nigeria’s judicial history. It is nonsensical to ask a panel of justices to constitute themselves into an appellate panel in order to potentially change the ruling of a panel of equal standing.”
However, after SaharaReporters exposed the fraud and numerous justices and lawyers protested, Chief Justice Dahiru Musdapher of Nigeria’s Supreme Court stepped in and ordered the immediate dissolution of the Denton West panel.
The original panel that removed Mr. Uba then sat and re-affirmed its ruling. Even so, Mr. Uba’s lawyers tendered another bizarre legal challenge in a bid to stop tomorrow’s election. On Monday, the appellate court again trashed Mr. Uba’s latest attempt to use the judiciary to sabotage a new election. Monday’s judgment set the final stage for tomorrow’s election.
Our INEC source disclosed that the commission had received intelligence to the effect that Mr. Uba had substantially compromised the electoral machinery in the state, hence INEC's decision to remove Mr. Onukaogu.
Despite the move to bring in Mr. Igini, a political observer in Awka said he was skeptical that the commission has the ability to remove the influence of Mr. Uba’s money at all levels. “But it is going to be tougher for him to rig the elections with Onukaogu's support,” he said.
Mr. Uba and his brothers, Chris and Ugochukwu, are widely regarded as some of the most corrupt political families in the history of Anambra State. However, Mr. Uba’s main opponent, Chuma Nzeribe, has a huge baggage as a corrupt and violent politician. Several sources in Anambra said they were shocked when Governor Peter Obi imposed Mr. Nzeribe as APGA’s candidate. “Many Anambrarians see Chuma and Andy as the same ten and ten pence,” said a political activist from the state, adding that the victory of either candidate in tomorrow’s election “will just cause sadness in the state.”