By Desmond Odoh

Things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold in the camp of the Enugu Labour Party, LP, gubernatorial candidate. It is not only because victory has numerous relations and friends, thus leaving the camp gloomy and abandoned since Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, last Monday, tore to shred the NYSC certificate forgery allegation against Governor Peter Mbah and asked the agency to pay him N5 Million for “fraudulent design, misrepresentation and suppression of facts” in its disclaiming of Mbah’s discharge certificate. Or because the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos added to Mbah’s winning streak and ended the week on the high note for him on Friday by dismissing Edeoga’s appeal for lack of merit, saying he could not prove allegations of over-voting or certificate forgery. It is because these developments have put Edeoga under pressure as he is lost in the mountain of debts incurred in the prosecution of his gubernatorial project.

As predicted in my piece April writeup, which I titled “Edeoga Gambles: Investors, Lenders Beware”, Edeoga has recently taken to his heels, as his money lenders and investors swoop on him.

In that article, I detailed how Edeoga and his in-law, Chief Nnia Nwodo, were going around, sweet-talking people into parting with their hard-earned money in the name of mandate recovery. As an insider and former financier of the Edeoga governorship project myself, I shed light on the horse-trading and permutations in the camp before the 18th March 2023 general election. But it didn’t work out.

While that could be forgiven because it was simply not meant to be. In fact, it was more like a jinxed project because everything we put on ground, plus the Obidient movement fervour almost took Edeoga to the Lion Building. However, I found it ungodly and insensitive for Edeoga to continue to frisk people off their money in these hard times in the name of mandate recovery. Therefore, I warned the lenders and investors alike to start putting their lives back together beyond the mouth-watering promises by Edeoga because his governorship voyage had ended and any further investments or loans would only end in tears and misery.

But what did Edeoga, his in-laws, and handlers do in response? They ran helter-skelter until they got the owners of Vanguard to pull down the post from their website and social media handles. However, the good thing was that the horse had already bolted before they tried to shut the stable. Those who had ears heard, while some said they had gotten to the point of no return, having liquidated their businesses to fund Edeoga and getting him into the Lion Building by hook or crook was the only chance of having their lives back. They were also willfully stupid because Edeoga convinced them that Mbah’s NYSC certificate was fake and their victory a done deal. But the facts are now out there to the contrary.

Today, the chickens have come to roost and it is war between them and Edeoga. But when this mandate recovery scam began, I told them that on a good day, tribunals and courts don’t deal in emotions and propaganda, but in facts and law! Today, those who listened call to thank me, while the stubborn flies now inundate me with calls over spilt milk. They lament how Edeoga and Nnia Nwodo conned them off their money, how they even sould properties to see to the end of it all. What breaks their hearts now, according to a number of them, is that they can no longer reach Edeoga or Nwodo. It is either Edeoga PA tells them that Edeoga went to the mountain or that Edeoga and Nwodo are “making progress” in Lagos where southern appeals were transferred to. They complain that nobody is telling them anything about refund of their “investment” or repayment of loans. Whoever told them that a cockerel that goes to a witch doctor’s home ever goes home with the owner?

I have no tears for them because I forewarned them. That is true friendship – I told you, not I would have told you.

Below is my April article I referred to. Happy reading.

“Edeoga Gambles: Investors, Lenders Beware”

By Desmond Odoh

For weeks now, Nnia Nwodo and Chijioke Edeoga have been going around, luring people to commit their resources to a project to reclaim Chijioke’s mandate through the court. I am not out to say that people shouldn’t contribute. But I’m only saying, based on personal experience and my knowledge of Law, that people should look before they leap.

First off, I am a staunch supporter and financier of Nsukka cultural zone and Chijioke Edeoga’s governorship project. I am also an insider. No apologies. But after the PDP governorship primary election in May last year, Edeoga met with us and explained that Dr. Peter Mbah visited him and they agreed to work together. He told us to support Mbah with the same fervour we supported him. On 8th June, he personally signed a statement endorsing Mbah and urging Enugu people to rally behind him. So, we joined the Mbah team.

To our greatest surprise, Chijioke took his governorship project to LP not long after without the courtesy of pre-informing us as insiders and stakeholders. We read it in the news like every other person. When confronted, he said his sponsors, the Nwodo family, insisted. We were all angry. Many pulled out at that point, but I was among those that decided to give him the benefit of doubt.

We met with Chief Nnia Nwodo, Prof. Bath Nnaji, among others. Nnia said that Enugu North senatorial zone was already locked down for Chijioke, as it was an Nsukka cultural zone project. By the way, I am from Isi-Uzo. Prof. Bath Nnaji, on his part, assured that he would divide Nkanu votes along Amadi/Ikenga and Odenigbo, but on the condition that he would be given a freehand to field only the Odenigbos as candidates for all the National and State House of Assembly seats across Enugu East senatorial zone. This, coupled with the further division of Nkanu votes among Peter Mbah (PDP), Chief Uche Nnaji (APC), and Mr. Frank Nweke Jr. (APGA) would undo Dr. Mbah in Nkanuland. Then, Edeoga’s deputy would come from Greater Awgu to help dilute PDP’s influence in the area.

On this, however, it is to be noted that Okey Ezea’s viral video where he clearly stated that the gubernatorial election was a domor die war between Nkanu and Nsukka cultural groups did a lot of harm. Many Obidients and Odenigbo Nkanu saw it as a wake up call. They chose Nkanu over political and other divisions.

Again, it was reckoned that with the Obi effect, plus APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, the Church would be fully drawn out, and all LP candidates would benefit. And it worked, especially during the 25th February elections.

Nnia assured he had already secured the cooperation of the security agencies, particularly the Army, using serving and retired Nsukka Generals. Truly, this particular one worked well during the governorship election.

So, we all raised millions of naira. Nnia Nwodo sold houses in Lagos and overseas. He was also able to get many to invest in the project based on an established benchmark, depending on the position you are eyeing in the incoming government (Commissioner, Council Chairman, Board Chairman/member, DG/head of state parastatals, etc. and the range of contracts you hope to execute). The buy-in was huge, as the permutations looked great both on paper and in reality.

Those who doubted Chijioke and LP’s chances came begging with their money after the 25th February tsunami that left the PDP with only one out of eight House of Representatives seats and saw Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi losing the Enugu North Senatorial District election to Okey Ezea of the LP. Okey Ezea was a serial election loser before 25th February. Nnia’s home became a Mecca of sorts and money was flowing in.

I believe Chijioke stood a better chance had the election held on 11th March because everything was already in place – the Obi effect and indoctrination by the Church were still fresh and high, while the Catholic priests in Nsukka cultural zone were still determined, etc. However, the shift in date, coupled with the misjudgment that Edeoga would automatically inherit Obi’s goodwill hurt us. We didn’t face the reality early enough that OBIDIENTS weren’t necessarily LP or Chijioke Edeoga’s fans. In fact, most of them were even PDP members, who believed in Peter Obi. There was also the mixed vibes from the OBEDIENTS, with Aisha Yesufu endorsing Frank Nweke of APGA. Imagine Frank’s 17,000 votes went to LP. Obi also didn’t outrightly endorse Chijioke by raising his hand as he did for others like Alex Otti.

We also didn’t reckon the world of difference between the sentiments that informed people’s choices in the presidential election, which was a national election, and those of the governorship election, which is very local. Many who voted LP in the presidential and National Assembly elections thought it was wrong for Chijioke to succeed his cousin, Governor Ugwuanyi. Some felt it was not right for Nsukka cultural zone to retain power for another eight years in a seeming breach of the power rotation agreement. Although Chijioke hails from Enugu East zone in terms of geopolitics, he did not hide the fact that he was vying on behalf of Nsukka cultural zone which Isi-Uzo is part of. Again, being an in-law of the Nwodo family (he’s married to the daughter of Nwodo’s elder sister- Grace Obayi). Many saw it as a family business. Many Enugu people and OBIDIENTS hate the idea of another era of godfathers, especially when Enugu cannot figure out what hey have benefitted from all the high positions occupied by the Nwodo family since ages.

Again, the one-week extension exposed the wide gap between Chijioke and Peter Mbah. Chijioke behaved and sounded so incoherent and timid in his public and media outings. Those videos where Mbah’s media team paired Chijioke and Mbah on critical issues like water, security, etc. were a big blow. Chijioke also gaffed many times. For instance, how could he say he didn’t need a manifesto to govern well? How could he say he had more leadership experience than Peter Obi? How could he boast that he had been in government since the early 1990s when he had nothing in terms of projects to show for it.

But there is no need to cry over spilt milk. I am actually moved to write this because Chijioke and Nnia Nwodo are on another round of fundraising, getting people to commit their hard-earned money on what they call a mandate recovery project. Personally, I have committed over N100 million of my hard-earned money to this project and I am not even among the top investors/donors at all. Some contributed over N300 million. Many of us feel frustrated and some said they feel like committing suicide. Prof. Nnaji is now a shadow of himself financially, as he has spent so much of Geometrics’ funds on the elections. AMCON is at his doorstep, coupled with the issues he had with Nnia on how to share positions.

But more importantly, he probably knows that the premises Nnia and Chijioke are banking on to claim the governorship seat through the tribunal are not solid.

Personally, my conscience will not allow me rest if I keep quiet while people are made to part with their money in these hard times hoping to reclaim mandate banking on the issue of Dr. Mbah’s NYSC discharge certificate, which he has even denied. But let’s hypothetically assume it was forged, the tribunal will still rely on the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act in adjudicating on the matter. Regarding submission of forged certificates to INEC, Section 29 (5) provides: “Any aspirant, who participated in the primaries of his political party, who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by his political party’s candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate in relation to his constitutional requirements to contest the election is false, may file a suit at the Federal High Court against that candidate seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false”.

Subsection 29 (6) provides: “Where the Court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit is false only as it relates to constitutional requirements of eligibility, the Court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate and the sponsoring political party and then declare the candidate with the second highest number of valid votes and who satisfies the constitutional requirement as the winner of the election”.

The question then is: Is an NYSC discharge certificate a constitutional requirement to qualify for the office of the governor and to hold public office? Apart from several court rulings such as in the case of Kemi Adeosun, Section 177 expressly provides: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if- a. he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; b. he has attained the age of thirty-five years; c. he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and d. he has been educated up to at least, School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

So, if NYSC discharge certificate is not a constitutional requirement, how do we expect the courts/tribunal to disqualify Peter based on that? By the way what will be Peter Mbah’s motive in forging and submitting an NYSC certificate that he did not need in the first place?

Again, if you come by way of perjury and forgery, he can’t be convicted on the pages of newspapers. The police/security agencies will have to investigate and then charge the matter to court if prima facie is established. Forgery is a crime and it means it has to be proved beyond every reasonable doubt. It doesn’t stop at what the NYSC says because the courts know anyone could be bought over. They will also look at Mbah’s account, evidences, and listen to any witnesses he called. So, the court is the only institution vested with the final say on matters of forgery, not WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media apps. And we know how slowly the wheels of the courts grind.

Even the issue of rigging is neither here nor there. I was among the few dissenting voices that urged our team to allow INEC to announce already collated governorship election results and waylay the PDP in court, but Nnia Nwodo overruled us. At the end of the day, INEC subtracted the areas where BVAS was said to have malfunctioned in Nkanu East and left the PDP with about 16,000 votes, which was still enough for Mbah to win. So, we forced INEC to prematurely intervene in a matter the tribunal should have done for us better.

Again, after all our expensive propaganda that Nkanu East has only 7,000 registered voters, the facts out there as confirmed by Abuja I-REV during the collation and also still on INEC website is that there are 82,959 registered voters in Nkanu East out of which 33,156 were accredited to vote.

While we busy ourselves with propaganda, we forget that the tribunal will deal with facts. We forget that while we torch-light the PDP, they too will be torch-lighting us. At the tribunal, the PDP will also want us to explain how Chijioke got 12,592 votes in just four Wards in Nsukka LGA (Obukpa, Ihe Nkpunano, and Owerre/Umuoyo Wards); how he got exactly 3,410 votes in each of Ihe and Nkpunano Wards; how we got more than 12,000 votes in UNN alone while students were on election break, etc.

In summary, as I stated in the beginning, I am not saying people should not invest in Edeoga mandate recovery project. I am only asking lenders and investors (as Nnia calls them) to beware. Besides, how do we claim to have won and still want to raise such huge sum to compromise the judiciary? Is that what Peter Obi represents? Count me out of the huge gamble.

Odoh writes from Enugu

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button