April 20, 2010

Controversy over Emodi’s sack deepens

By Kayode Matthew

ENUGU—The controversy trailing the two contradicting judgments of the Enugu Court of Appeal on the occupancy of the Anambra North Senatorial seat has deepened with an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, denying claims that he certified the results of one of the disputants.

Chief Alphonsus Igbeke, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP candidate, was last March, declared by the Court of Appeal Enugu as the winner of the seat, almost a year after the same court of appeal had returned Senator Joy Emodi of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as validly elected candidate.

The Senate has refused to swear-in Chief Igbeke on the basis of the contradictory judgments presented by Senator Emodi and Chief Igbeke.

The controversy, however, deepened at the weekend following revelations that INEC Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu confronted an INEC Commissioner, over claims that he certified the results presented by Igbeke at the tribunal. All the result sheets were certified at Awka INEC Headquarters from the result sheets at INEC Headquarters Office in Abuja.

The INEC Commissioner was said to have reportedly certified the results presented by Igbeke.

It was gathered that the INEC federal commissioner, who Igbeke allegedly claimed to have certified the results he tendered before the tribunal had vehemently denied the claim when confronted by Iwu.

INEC sources say that the INEC Commissioner was said to have vehemently disowned the certified results, affirming that he could not have certified it when the Resident Electoral Commissioner and the INEC Administrative Secretary were available in Awka to certify the results as they did for every other contestant, as all the result sheets were certified at Awka and not at INEC Headquarters, Abuja .

The Commissioner refused to speak on the issue when contacted on phone as he said that he does not grant interviews on telephone.

Similarly, the then Administrative Secretary of INEC in Anambra State, Mr. E. Effanga was also said to have denied certifying the election results for the petitioner, because according to sources close to INEC, the results did not emanate from the commission and there was no way, therefore any reasonable officer of the commission would have certified results which he/she was not sure of their source.

Senator Emodi’s lawyer Chief Tony Mogboh, SAN, had questioned the authenticity of the result when presented at the tribunal describing them as “oven baked” on account of the freshness of the paper on which they were written.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Assistant to Senator Joy Emodi, Mr. Chinedu Onyeizugbe has explained Senator Emodi’s decision to seek judicial interpretation of the conflicting decisions of the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal, which was first upheld and yet to be set aside and then nullified her election.

The court had upheld Senator Emodi as having being validly elected as the Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District, ruling that the election was validly conducted in the appeal brought by Jessie Balonwu, the Labour Party candidate in the election. The same court had last month in the appeal brought by the ANPP candidate Chief Igbeke, however, ruled that there was no election in two local government areas of the constituency and declared Igbeke the winner of the election.