Forgery Scandal Rocks Labour Party
Information reaching Ibom Focus says that Forgery Scandal Rocks Labour Party
The recent interview by the original candidate of the Labour Party for Enugu north senatorial zone, Ernest Ikechukwu Ugwu, on the political debauchery allegedly inflicted on him by the Labour Party leadership and Chief Okey Ezea (Ideke) is something that should bother every man of conscious and lover of democracy, particularly those from Enugu north.
In the interview, Ugwu painted graphic details of how the leadership of his party allegedly conspired with Ezea to forge his withdrawal letter and the affidavit that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) relied on to replace him with Ezea.
Prior to the electoral reforms of 2010, political parties and godfathers singlehandedly imposed their godsons and goddaughters on the parties as candidates. When they could not manipulate the primaries, they simply replaced elected candidates with their minions. For instance, there were cases in Anambra state where people that never participated in the 2003 elections or who ran for the house of representatives were announced as elected senators.
Consequently, since 2010, the national assembly has incrementally tightened the processes for the replacement of candidates. By virtue of section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022, a candidate can only be replaced in the event of death or wilful withdrawal in his own writing. However, in this case, the heartbroken Ernest Ugwu swears by his ancestors that he neither wrote INEC nor was deposed to any affidavit withdrawing from the senatorial race.
Labour Party, on its part, claimed that Ernest Ugwu lacks the capacity to run a senatorial race, let alone when such a race is against a sitting governor. They claim that he was only a placeholder but refused to relinquish the ticket when they found a stronger candidate, Okey Ezea.
However, Ugwu shredded their argument in the said Arise TV interview published by Thisday Newspaper. According to him, he had always known the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, since 2011 when he worked with Obi in the area of educational reform while the latter was governor of Anambra state. So, when Obi left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Labour Party, Ugwu was the one that mobilised and transported delegates to Asaba in his car for Obi’s presidential primary election.
He said: “I was the person who conveyed, from Enugu to Asaba, all the delegates for Peter Obi’s primary election. I conveyed them in my car. I wasn’t a delegate, but when Peter saw me he said; “thank God you are here, come in; you are not a delegate, but you are going to sit with me”. I was sitting right before him, not far”.
“So, after all these things, I rallied around to mobilise an Enugu north senatorial candidate for Peter, but nobody wanted to take this position. I, first of all, went for the house of representatives ticket, but when I didn’t see anyone challenge the governor (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) in the senatorial contest because they were all running away, I contested the primary and I won, unopposed. It’s not like I had someone, who came second”.
It is understandable if nobody wanted the Labour Party senatorial ticket initially because it wasn’t yet a popular platform in the east at the time. But once the Obi ticket clicked, politicians, who couldn’t secure tickets in the PDP and APCscampered for Labour tickets to various elective offices. That automatically became an oil boom for some unscrupulous Labour Party leaders, as they sold to the highest bidders at the expense of those who risked it. And in Ernest Ugwu’s case, he alleges that neither Okey Ezea nor the party leaders talked to him.
Hear his story: “I looked for everybody to come and contest the election and they refused and I contested and won and nobody came to me and asked me, give me this ticket, you went ahead and forged my withdrawal letter without my consent”.
“This is where they signed a signature (displaying a document). This is not my signature. I will show you my correct signature. And this particular signature they signed here for my withdrawal, I got this thing from the court because they never approached me.
“Interestingly, this particular signature is the signature that purportedly received the letter for Labour Party as the administrative secretary. You can see it. So, I am Ugwu Ernest. I am also the administrative secretary for the Labour Party.
“If you come to the affidavit, you will still see that it is the same signature that signed the affidavit. To make the matter worse, if you look at this thing, it’s a letter written to me by FCT high court. What did they write? I asked them: I didn’t know when I came here (to the FCT high court) to do any affidavit. Give me a certified true copy of my affidavit; let me know whether I did this thing in the dream. And they wrote to me. See their reply (displaying the court’s letter). We didn’t see you and there’s no record like that”.
Ernest has equally raised some fundamental posers regarding the capacity to win an election, which the Labour Party musketeers must do well to respond to rather than hiding behind a finger. He said: “If, for instance, I don’t even have the capacity to run, as they claim, are we now going to allow someone, who has the capacity to forge my purported withdrawal documents without my consent? Someone, who forged court documents? Is that what the Labour Party and Peter Obi represent?
“It’s just like what Chimamanda Adichie said in Germany. The Germans came to Nigeria, took our cultural artefacts, the ikengas, the ichis and we are asking them to give us the ikengas back, the ichis, etc. And they are telling us we won’t be able to take care of the Ikengas, which we produced ourselves. How can you be telling me that I can’t compete in something that I won, in something you said ab-initio it couldn’t work?
“The first time I met with this man, Okey Ezea, was when he came to my father’s burial on July 23, 2022. But this forged document is bearing July 15, which means that they had already finished forging the documents and my signature before I even set my eyes on him for the first time.”
By this account, Labour Party has done grave injustice to citizen Ernest Ugwu. They seem to forget that the party wouldn’t have had an Enugu north senatorial candidate if Ugwu hadn’t contested and won the primary election. And without a candidate in the person of Ugwu, they wouldn’t have had anybody to replace him because you must have a candidate before you can make a replacement.
Moreover, when such political corruption goes on in the Labour Party, which pontificates and presents itself as the change we need, the only reasonable conclusion to make is that the beautiful ones are not yet born as far as our political space is concerned. It is still the same politicians doing old things on new political platforms.
The allegation by Okey Ezea and labour party leaders that Ernest Ugwu is working for the Enugu PDP and Governor Ugwuanyi is bunkum and pedestrian. Even in the unlikely event that it is true, does it justify the criminal acts Ernest accuses them of?
Besides, have we come to finally replace integrity, character, and competence with forgery, vote buying, and sponsorship of electoral violence as the actual requisite capacities to run for political offices in Nigeria? What then is the difference between Labour Party and the PDP and APC that the Labour Party daily badmouths? It can only be the case of the pot calling the kettle black because if you could contrive such height of impunity outside the seat of power, only the heavens can tell what you are capable of when you grab power.
In any case, there might still be hope for Ernest Ugwu and democracy, as the matter is presently before the court of appeal. And if the story out there is anything to go by, then we might yet witness another Senator Ahmed Lawan v. Bashir Machina scenario pretty soon. Enough is enough.
Onuh, a political analyst, writes from Nsuka