Enugu PDP still haunted by ghost of 2014 primary

Ekweremadu

Ekweremadu

All may not be well for the Enugu State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Although the party is looking forward to the May 2016 date for the state congress and possibly use it to shore up its fortunes, the outcome of the December 5, 2014 primary which gave some members victory and inflicted injuries on others still hunts the party.

The bone of contention is the Udi/Ezeagu House of Representatives seat occupied by Dennis Amadi following his election last year.

Although Amadi is occupying the seat, the issue of the rightful candidate produced at the primary of the party between him and former occupant of the seat, Hon Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi has refused to leave the party.

Amadi, who had variously accused Ozomgbachi of benefitting from a forgery of a letter that allegedly authorized a former lawmaker in the state, Mr. Paul Anikwe and a chieftain of the party, Mrs. Ify Ozoani to act as returning and electoral officers in the primary of the constituency held last year, had last week written to the Inspector general of Police asking for the prosecution of the two former law makers and the female chieftain.

It could be recalled that the primary of the party for Udi/Ezeagu constituency in which the duo of Anikwe and Ozoani worked as returning and electoral officers had returned Ozomgbachi as the candidate for the election. They were alleged to have been appointed by the then Chairman of the party, Elder David Aja through a letter, which Amadi claimed to have been forged.

Thus, to give effect to his claim, Amadi had on July 6th last year and August same year petitioned the IGP and Solicitor general of the federation complaining of the forgery, impersonation and perjury against the Anikwe and Ozoani. Following the petition, the Police boss directed an investigation into the allegations, where a team invited the two as well as interviewed Ajah, who allegedly denied authorship of the letters appointing the said duo as returning officer and electoral officer for the Udi/Ezeagu federal constituency primary.

It was learnt that the Solicitor general, federal Ministry of Justice had directed the police to properly investigate the matter and forward case file to the office of the Federal Director of Public Prosecution for legal advice.

The police was said to have sent an interim report dated 3rd September 2015 to the Ministry of Justice, which was rejected by the Ministry because it did not come with the case file. But the file containing the full report, the statements of all the parties, the alleged forged documents, the forensic report was delivered to the
Ministry of Justice on 2nd October 2015.

It was based on this that a legal opinion was given by the Ministry that a case of forgery was established and directed the Police to take the case file to the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Enugu State for prosecution since the alleged act was committed in Enugu State.

Although the case is now pending before the Chief Judge in charge No. E/117C/2015 (Commissioner of Police V Ozomgbachi and two others), Amadi in his petition last week alleged an attempt from the legal department of the FCIIB on the Commissioner of Police to retrieve the case file containing the legal opinion of the Ministry of Justice (which empowered the case to be charged to court) from the Attorney-General office on the guise that the report was falsified while being sent to Enugu.

He added that another letter was written to the Commissioner of Police in last month from the Force headquarters asking the state police boss to retrieve the file from the office of the Attorney-general of the state, adding that the accused persons have filed suit No. E/44m/2015 against the Attorney-General and Inspector General of police for a judicial review of the police investigation.

In the petition he entitled “Save the integrity of the Nigeria Police”, he alleged that the accused persons were using their connection to block prosecution, calling on the IGP to “investigate the letters emanating from the Commissioner of Police (Legal FCIIB), his motives and the reason for desiring to assist the accused persons not to take their criminal trial”.

Sources close to the party said that there was no way the party would continue to progress especially in the constituency if the matter was not amicably resolved. This is because of the alleged interests of some stakeholders from the Enugu West Senatorial zone on those involved in the matter.

Chime

Chime

Again there was the alleged effect it would have on the political career of those involved in it. For instance, while it is a known fact that the former Governor, Sullivan Chime had supported the candidature of Amadi against Ozomgbachi in the 2015 elections, based on the unwritten rotational principle of elective offices in the party in the state; Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu had supported Ozomgbachi.

On the other hand, Ozomgbachi, Anikwe and Ozoani were also supporters of the Deputy President of the Senate and were part of the struggle in 2014 to ensure that the structure of the party was controlled and retained by Ekweremadu, despite Chime being the governor.

The struggle over who controls Enugu PDP’s structure was the cause of the division in the party during the 2015 general elections.

A source in the party claimed that while Amadi with the support of the ex-governor and some stakeholders will want those involved in the alleged forgery prosecuted, the Deputy Senate President and other stakeholders will want the matter to be discontinued.

The source added however that the implication of not prosecuting the matter might mean conferring the right candidature of the party in Udi/Ezeagu on Ozomgbachi, since he was declared winner from the alleged congress superintended by Anikwe and Ozoani.

To ensure that the separate interests of the major players in Enugu West constituency continued to hold sway on the party, a fierce battle has already started over who among them (Ekweremadu and Chime) will produce the next chairman of the party from Enugu East senatorial zone.

Also of interest to the two party leaders is the position of the secretary of the party zoned to Enugu West senatorial zone. The source insisted that none was ready to give in on any of the positions in view of the 2019 politics of the state.

Last week, the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting of the party held. Although it was meant to attract present and past functionaries of the party among other stakeholders, sources said however that those connected with the matter or apologetic on those involved in it did not show up at the meeting. These included two members of the House of Reps and a Senator.

It was also gathered that the key actors have refused to yield to promptings by stakeholders over the matter, based on its implication to their political career among others.

Apparently perturbed by the development, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who was at the meeting appealed to party faithful to imbibe the spirit of love, unity and peace as members of one family for the party to enjoy a smooth exercise that would guarantee its success in future elections.

He said the future of the party depended on how successful it conducted the congresses, asking them to shun bitterness and rancor as well as put aside the past and work for the growth of the party.

A chieftain of the party, Eze Chinwuba said the greed for power caused the crisis that engulfed the party in 2014, stressing that its outcome was yet to be settled. He however tasked the state leadership of the party to begin the process of healing the wounds that arose out of it.



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