The plans of some politicians can be quite interesting. Convinced that neither himself nor his All Progressives Congress (APC) is popular enough to win the November 18 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, Tony Nwoye, the APC candidate, has drawn up plans to rig the vote.
We can authoritatively disclose that Nwoye, who became a member of the House of Representatives by forging the result in his Nsugbe constituency and bribing the Court of Appeal to accept it after it had been rejected by electoral officials in the 2015 general elections as a fraud, has a two-pronged strategy to manipulate the election result in his favour.
The first part is to have two sets of electoral documents, one fake and the other authentic. The authentic documents will be used in places where he believes he enjoys relative strength while the fake ones will be used in areas where there are strong indications he is weak, and they are in the overwhelming majority.
The second part of the strategy is to use the police and the military to subdue voters who are most likely to protest against the planned declaration of false results. Police and military chiefs may not buy into the plan since they want to maintain the standard set in the 2015 elections which earned local and international applause.
“The first part of the strategy cannot work without the active collaboration of officials and agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)”, a confidant of Nwoye told our correspondent on condition that his name would not be disclosed in the media.
Another confidant confirmed that Nwoye is not working alone on the plot to use the electoral body to rig the election, saying that top party members are “working hard to ensure that a friendly person like the Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture at Umudike in Abia State, Professor Francis Otunta, is appointed the returning officer of the state for purposes of conducting the November 18 election”.
Though those working with Nwoye on the election rigging project are not yet known to our correspondent, one person understood to be neck-deep in the plot is Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment as well as coordinator of the Tony Nwoye Campaign.
Ngige, who twice ran unsuccessfully to return to the Government House in Awka, ironically had a frosty relationship with Nwoye until now.
Nwoye, whose activities as leader of the dreaded Black Axe cult resulted in his expulsion from the University of Nigeria medical school, led the mayhem visited on Anambra State between November 4 and 6, 2004, during Ngige’s tenure as Anambra State governor. During the mayhem, coordinated by Chuma Nzeribe, then a member of the House of Representatives who is now in APC, the Government House was burnt, together with the State House of Assembly, the headquarters of the state judiciary, as well as the state broadcasting service.
The arsonists were hired by the self-proclaimed godfather of Anambra State politics, Chris Ubah, to remove Ngige from office through a proclamation of state of emergency because Ngige had reneged on his promise to hand over the state’s treasury to them, after they had rigged him in as governor in the 2003 general elections.
According to sources close to both Nwoye and the Labour and Employment minister, Ngige was up to three months ago still pleading with Arthur Eze, a controversial businessman from Anambra State and Nwoye’s financier, to stop supporting Nwoye in his quest to become the APC governorship candidate on the ground that “Nwoye is not marketable, given his record as a very violent and fraudulent person”.
The minister on one occasion pointed out to Eze the “terrible implication of having as our party’s candidate the person rumoured to have killed Barnabas Igwe, chairman of the Onitsha branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, who was on September 1, 2002, assassinated alongside his pregnant wife, Amaka Igwe, also a lawyer, in Onitsha.”
At the APC primary election on August 26, 2017, which Nwoye won with 2146 out of the 5430 votes cast, Ngige campaigned for one Joseph Chukwuma who was to get only 125 votes.
“Ngige’s sole reason for now backing Nwoye, including in the plan to rig the election, is to prove that as APC leader in the state right from the day the party was formed that he is still relevant in Anambra politics”, said a former National Assembly member and close political ally of the minster who didn’t want his name mentioned in the press because he doesn’t want to “be accused of being a saboteur”. The ex legislator is opposed to the rigging plans and even Nwoye’s candidature.
Our investigation has revealed that both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are not in the picture about the election rigging plans, and they are not likely to approve of them if eventually they become aware of them.
Anambra Governor Willie Obiano met Buhari on Tuesday, October 4, in State House, Abuja, over the polls, and the president pledged to make it free and fair. “Buhari likes high performing governors like myself,” Obiano declared to State House correspondents after the meeting.
Okafor is a lawyer in Onitsha, Anambra State.