January 13, 2017

New twist to Ohanaeze polls fallout

New twist to Ohanaeze polls fallout

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.

*Nwabueze, Ejike, ILT distance selves from litigation
*Igbo forum tasks new leadersship on non non-partisanship
*S’East PDP pledges support for Nwodo-led exco

By Clifford Ndujihe,  Dennis Agbo &  Nwabueze Okonkwo

Elder statesman and Chairman of the Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, and his deputy, Professor Chiweyite Ejike, have distanced themselves and the ILT from any court case seeking to nullify the election of the Chief John Nnia Nwodo-led newly elected Ohanaeze executive.

Professor Ejike, was one of the candidates for the president-general post and lost to Chief Nwodo at the poll held on Tuesday.

A day after the election, the ILT, reportedly represented by Chief Enechi Onyia, SAN, was said to have lodged a legal proceeding against the election of the new executives, insisting that the past executive committee of the group led by Chief Enwo Igariwey had no locus to conduct the election that produced Nwodo. It argued that the tenure of the Igariwey-led executive had expired two years ago, that the Igariwey-led executive was served the court process on December 22,  2016 but it was defiant and went ahead to conduct the election.

The court process lodged in an Enugu state high court presided over by Justice A. O. Onovo, fixed March 1, 2017, as a date to commence hearing on the validity of the Chief Igariwey-led executive to have conducted the election.

However, in a press statement and telephone chat, Professors Nwabueze and Ejike said they are not aware of the suit and have no hand in it.

Quoting the reports, Nwabueze, in a statement said: ‘’We hereby state categorically that, until we read the above news reports, we were unaware of any such court action or of any plan or intention to institute same. Neither I, as Chairman of The Igbo Leaders of Thought nor Professor Ejike (a candidate at the said election), as Deputy Chairman, knew anything about the court action. Neither did we authorise anyone or group to institute such a suit on behalf and/or in the name of Igbo Leaders of Thought. The reports in the two newspapers are thus completely false and unfounded as well as downright mischievous and malicious. We are yet to get copies of the originating processes in the case, in order to find out who the real plaintiffs in the court action are and their names.

Nnia Nwodo

We hereby disassociate the Igbo Leaders of Thought and ourselves as its Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively from the said court action and from the false newspaper reports.

‘’After the series of crises that have riven our Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo needs a breathing space to try and repair the damage of the past and to reposition itself for the future under a new leadership.

‘’We will like to clear the unfortunate misunderstanding of our position. For the purposes of the now concluded election, we thought it in the best interest of Ndigbo that there should be a genuine contest for the office of President-General at an election fairly conducted and at which there would be an equal playing field for all the candidates. We considered this a legitimate position to take.’’

Speaking in like manner, Ejike told Vanguard on phone: ‘’The report is surprising to me. It is totally false. We (ILT) don’t have any case in court against Ohanaeze and did not ask any lawyer to represent us. Why should we? Professor Nwabueze is our leader and chairman and a lawyer. We don’t have a better person than him. I hope the wrong impression will be corrected. I presented myself for the Ohanaeze election and Ndigbo have made their decision. All we need now to join forces to move Ndigbo forward.’’

 Forum tasks new leadership on non partisanship

Meanwhile, Ndigbo Unity Forum, NUF, an Igbo socio cultural organization has tasked the Chief Nwodo-led newly elected leadership of Ohanaeze not be partisan and to always stand for equity and justice.

NUF also tasked the new executive tojoin hands with the governors in all the Igbo speaking states that are members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other stakeholders in the region in formulating policies that will revive Igbo culture and language.

In a congratulatory statement jointly signed by its President, Augustine Chukwudum and Secretary-General, Chinedu Onyebuchi, the NUF described the election that produced the new Ohanaeze executive as free and fair, adding, “we commend everybody associated with Ohanaeze Ndigbo whose effort, in one way or the other, contributed towards achieving a rancour-free election that produced Chief Nnia Nwodo and other members of the executive”.

 S’East PDP pledges support for Nwodo exco

Also, the South East chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday congratulated Ndigbo, the new leadership of Ohanaeze and Nwodo.

National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South-East, Chief Austin Umahi, said with the emergence of Nwodo as Ohanaeze president-general, Ndigbo a new Igbo order has been born.

He wrote Nwodo: “With your emergence as the President General of the Apex Socio-Cultural organization, an umbrella body uniting all Igbo and Igbo speaking states across the country, we can now believe that Ndigbo have come to a level of self determination.

”It is therefore on this note that I write on behalf of the PDP in the zone to congratulate you on your election as the leader and also urge you to keep the interest of Ndigbo at the uppermost part of your heart.”

“PDP as a party is desirous of having a robust synergy with your office at the Ime-Obi, to enable us chart a new cause for Igbo survival and existence. In the face of obvious challenges staring us in the face as a people, we believe that a new era has come in Igbo land and we have come to the level of tenaciously holding on to our common inheritance and striving harder to maintain our lead in all facets of life especially in political, social and economic sectors using unity as a weapon.”

Umahi further commended the leadership and urged them to partner with state governors in the zone to enthrone discipline and save the dying Igbo culture and language from going into extinction.