By ANIEBO NWAMU
I’m back in Abuja, after almost two years in my home state for the 2023 general election. Like many others in the OBIdient movement, I was persuaded to obtain a voter card by the emergence of Peter Obi as Labour Party presidential candidate as well as the assurances of INEC chieftains including Mahmoud Yakubu that the use of BVAS would make the elections free, fair and credible. Of course, I’ve been thoroughly disappointed.
My testimony is different from what you’ve heard from some professional liars who appeared as guests on TV, or social media “influencers” who operated from America and Europe. I was an eyewitness, a player on the field, and a long-standing commentator on Nigerian affairs.
In brief: Peter Obi won the presidential election, but the cabal that ruins Nigeria has not tolerated him. The cabal calls the tune in the presidency, INEC, security agencies and judiciary. Just as Nnamdi Kanu foretold, “Your PVC is useless.” It was in 2015 that Kanu predicted the person who would be declared president in 2023. So all the talk about PVC, BVAS, INEC guidelines and Electoral Act was balderdash. Even the constitution of the country is a vehicle of convenience.
Let me demonstrate the proofs with what happened in Enugu State where the Labour Party won more than 80% of elective seats in spite of the vote-buying by the then incumbent PDP administration. The LP governorship candidate, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, easily defeated the PDP candidate, Mr Peter Mbah. But corrupt INEC and judicial officials have now awarded victory to the loser.
In this season, only a tiny minority — vote thieves and their families — are happy in Enugu State. The majority, already emasculated by a crashed national economy, wear long faces because their last hope has faded after the Nigerian judiciary endorsed certificate forgery and vote thievery.
In Enugu, LP won seven out of eight available House of Representatives seats, two Senate seats out of three, and 14 out of 24 Assembly seats. The governorship election was obviously won by the LP candidate. Results from 16 of 17 LGAs in the state were ready, 24 hours after voting ended on March 18. In spite of the thuggery and vote manipulations by the incumbent PDP in collusion with compromised INEC officers, LP governorship candidate Edeoga was leading with almost 12,000 votes. Only Nkanu East, home LGA of PDP candidate Mbah, was left. So the vote thieves aided by INEC officials raised over 30,800 votes for the governorship candidate, though fewer than 15,000 were accredited to vote for the governorship, senatorial and House of Assembly polls held at the same time on the same day in the LGA.
Returning officer Maduebibisi Iwe dithered until he was summoned to Abuja. On March 22, a “committee” led by Festus Okoye allocated almost 17,000 votes to Mbah, and Iwe returned to Enugu to announce the falsified results. Iwe said he knew it was wrong but he was “working under authority”. Enugu’s money moved to Abuja had done the deed!
All of us expected the court to reverse that injustice. To have their way, however, the vote thieves used billions of naira stolen from public funds to grease the palms of judicial and electoral officials. A huge bribe often proves irresistible to many. Few judges would refuse to take N3bn or more to deliver abracadabra as judgement.
As an active participant in the 2023 elections, I can testify that this country is gone. Section 182 of the country’s constitution that forbids submission of a forged certificate to electoral body INEC by a political candidate has now been latently repealed. The 2022 Electoral Act that forbids non-use of BVAS for polls is now obsolete. Other things remaining constant, there may be no election cases to be filed in Nigerian courts in the future. “Go to court” means “get frustrated” or , if you have cash, “go and buy a favourable judgement”. Occultic groups have gripped the country between their claws.
An indication that Enugu’s money had changed hands is the celebration of victory inside the Government House a day or two before each of the governorship election tribunal, the appeal and supreme courts was to deliver judgement. They boasted in the streets that they already knew the content of each judgement. The PDP candidate and incumbent governor received congratulatory messages ahead of each. Besides, Mbah had taken several trips to Aso Villa where he reportedly promised to decamp to the APC soon after the courts had awarded him victory.
The bribe takers did not even hide their bribes. Consider the strange tricks: The 2022 Electoral Act says accreditation via BVAS is compulsory, and the penalty for over-voting is cancellation of results outright. In Nkanu East LGA, fewer than 15,000 were accredited for three elections on March 18. The total votes cast for senatorial and HoA polls were fewer than 15,000. But, for governorship, over 30,800 “voted” for Mbah. Edeoga’s counsel got the CTCs of the results from INEC and they show 15,000+ votes. In court, INEC had no witness and no defence for over-voting in the 10 PUs of Owo and Ugbawka areas that produced about 9,000 votes. What more proof is needed?
In many areas in Igbo-Eze North and Udenu LGAs, LP’s votes were swapped with PDP’s. Where, for instance, LP received 400 votes and PDP 20, LP’s votes recorded on INEC form turned 20 and PDP’s 400. The result sheets signed and uploaded on IReV were presented in court. The “learned” judges didn’t accept them.
NYSC was subpoenaed by the court. It came and presented overwhelming evidence that the discharge certificate Mbah had presented to INEC was forged. The “learned” judges rejected NYSC’s statement because it was not front-loaded on day one. For you to prove forgery, you must present the original, we heard. In other words, for you to prove that someone stole your goat, you must produce the stolen goat (even if the goat had been eaten).
We see how courts conduct proceedings elsewhere in the world. Judges struggle to find the truth. They seek justice, not technicalities. They don’t try to mystify the law.
Could Ike Ekweremadu, for instance, have been tried in Nigeria for organ harvesting? And if he had been, would any court have convicted and jailed him? Never! James Ibori was discharged and acquitted by Nigerian courts, but he was convicted and jailed in the UK for the same offence. Where are those involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal? Only non-Nigerians are in jail abroad.
This state has failed. All crimes have now been legalised in the country. I’m not giving anyone hope. You can’t find justice or peace in a place where criminals call the shots. Agencies created to fight corruption are almost useless. Only God can rescue Nigeria now.
*Nwamu, an editorial consultant, lives in Abuja.*