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Legal luminary challenges purported Ohanaeze Ndigbo election

Enugu – Chief Enechi Onyia (SAN), a chieftain of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, says he has filed a lawsuit against the recent election by a faction of the Igbo apex social-cultural organisation challenging the propriety of the election.

Onyia made this known in Enugu on Thursday shortly after filing the suit against the election at the Enugu State High Court, describing it as “a nullity and unacceptable”.

President-elect of Ohanaeze Ndigbo World-Wide, Chief John Nwodo (R) receiving certificate of return from Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Prof. Anya O. Anya, after the 2017 Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly Elections, in Enugu on Tuesday. Photo:NAN.

He stressed that the Igbo socio-cultural organisation needed to avoid further leadership crises rather it was time to rally the people for effective contributions to benefits from the Nigerian project.

Onyia, who is also the lead counsel in the lawsuit said that for the past 16 years of democratic rule, the Igbo people as a group had benefited nothing meaningful from the Federal Government due to the activities of “self-serving leaders”.

He said that the organisation had been riddled with leadership crises which necessitated governor Rochas Okorocha to call for a truce in the interest of the people.

“Then, they were parallel executives led by Chief Enwo Igariwey and the other, which was a caretaker committee led by Chief Ralph Obioha.

“We had five cases scattered in all the states in the zone but in the interest of the people, we decided to allow Igariwey to lead up to January 2017.

“The agreement was that there shall be an election committee where Igariwey’s executive will contribute seven members, while that of Obioha will contribute five members and representation by the state governors,” he said.

Onyia said that when the implementation of the agreement became impossible “the caretaker committee went to court’’.

“We asked the court to declare that Igariwey has no constitutional right to conduct any election into the executives of the organisation because his term had expired.

“At the court hearing, after the purported election, counsel to the respondents, Chief James Ikenyi (SAN) hid from the court the fact that his clients had conducted the election irrespective of court action.

“But as far as we are concerned, what they did was an illegal act. The election has not held. They are prostituting Ohanaeze and it will be resisted,” he said.

Some chieftains of the organisation led by Sam Nwodo, Ralph Okafor and Haruna Aja had filed a suit against the Igariwey-led executive.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, counsel to the plaintiffs, Onyia told the court that his clients had filed a motion to stop the said election as planned by Igariwey’s executive.

Onyia said that the respondents lacked the constitutional rights to conduct the said election as their tenure expired on Jan. 13, 2015, adding that the process was served on them on Dec. 22, 2016.

However, counsel to the respondents, Ikenyi told the court that he was just briefed about the matter the previous day, adding that he had not responded to the process.

Ikenyi asked for an adjournment to enable him respond to the process on the grounds that his time was still running.

The court presided by Justice A. O. Onovo then adjourned the matter to March 1, for hearing.

Some of the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs included – that the declaration that the term of office of the first defendants’ executive committee of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo expired on Jan. 13, 2015.

“That a declaration that the continuation in office of the executive of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo led by the first defendant as president-general is contrary to the provisions of the constitution of the organisation and unlawful.

“That order restraining the defendants from further usurpation of the powers and functions of the executive of the organisation contrary to its constitution.

“That an order granting that the Igbo `Leaders of Thought’ led by Prof. Ben Nwabueze and or Chief Mbazulike Amaechi organise an election that will elect officers of the organisation nationwide.’’


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