- • Provides list of witnesses
Subterranean plots hatched by some unscrupulous persons to rig the forthcoming election of the Onitsha International Drug Market in Anambra State, has been revealed by the International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety).
In a letter to the Anambra State Director of the Department of State Service (DSS), the group gave a low down of how elective positions are being sold at the market and listed the victims/witnesses to the plot.
Signed by Intersociety Board Chair Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., the letter revealed that “elective offices at the Onitsha Int’l Drug Market (Ogbogwu) are now sold to the highest bidders. To contest any elective office including as low as ‘office of whip or provost’, at least N50,000 mandatory and non-refundable cash sum must be paid within 48 hours, or the contestant counts himself out of the race. For post of chairman, it requires mandatory cash payment of N250,000, N200,000 for secretary, N150,000 for first vice chairman, N150,000 for second vice chairman and N50,000 each for posts of assist secretary, financial secretary, treasurer, assist financial secretary, public relations officer and provost or whip.
“Not less than 50 contestants in all have been forced to pay the criminal sums in return for issuance of the Anambra State Government printed and approved “Expression of Interest or Market Election Contestant Form”; issued by the State Ministry of Commerce & Trade, Awka. To evade legal and electronic traces, the sums are mandatorily demanded to be paid cash without any form of written acknowledgement issued to those who paid. To secure rush and compliance, a short notice of two days is issued to the contestants, after which those who failed to pay are totally shut out and instantly disqualified.”
Giving the backdrop and details of the case, Intersociety wrote: “In the instant case, the perpetrators are the Government of Anambra State appointed 18-member ‘caretaker committee’ for the Market led by Mr. Anthony Ezioba, who is also contesting for the post of financial secretary in the much delayed Market Election. Though the State Government’s “Expression of Interest Election Form” does not contain any amount to be paid, but the Government’s “Caretaker Committee” is using same to rip off the contestants.
“There is also no law anywhere in the State mandating Market or Community election contestants to pay any amount before being allowed to contest, but the criminal practice has become unchecked and a norm in the State. In many cases, officials of the State Markets’ Central Association also partake by demanding and receiving ‘settlements’ in huge cash sums, usually before or on the day of such elections.
“It is on these notes that we have written the Anambra State Director of SSS (Alex Agada) requesting, with greatest respect, that his office swing into action by tracking the perpetrators and getting them under the law to immediately refund the sums extorted. It is discovered that not less than N4.5M was criminally extorted from the victim-contestants. Intersociety letter to the State SSS was dated today, being 4th May 2020, which has been duly transmitted to its director since yesterday through electronic WhatsApp mode.
“We have also written to Anambra State Commissioner for Commerce & Trade (Uche Okafor) using the same channel of communication (WhatsApp). His letter is also dated today, 4th May 2020. The Trade & Commerce Commissioner was in his letter, charged to liaise with the State Director of SSS and ensure conclusive investigation into the fraud and extortion and recovery of the extorted sums and their return in full to their owners. The Commissioner was further charged to ensure a credible and popular election at the Ogbogwu Int’l Market and shun any act capable of robbing the election of its credibility, popularity and general acceptance.
“Intersociety had also in its letter to the Commissioner restated its firm calls for open and direct election in the Market using ‘Option A4’ and ‘Line Registers’; adding that if the option of using ‘delegate election’ must be used following the Government ordered and WHO prescribed COVID-19 preventive and safety protocols; and if the State Government insists on going ahead with the election in this COVID-19 period, then two weeks gap after today, being 4th May 2020, shall be given to the traders of the Market to convey their Line Meetings so as to mandatorily elect Government specified number of delegates from each Line who will participate in the adopted ‘delegate election’. The Commissioner was told in clear and bold terms that the idea of cooking up list of ‘delegates’ outside the approval and participation of the traders through their Line Meetings, as being widely speculated, is chaotic and totally unacceptable.”
On the victims/witnesses, Intersociety said in the letter: “Below are the names and contact numbers of those extorted, amount paid per head and total amount forcibly collected from them: (1) Ugochukwu Nwosu – chairmanship (08037046029), paid N250,000, (2) Donatus Ajamma – chairmanship (08036741261)-paid N250,000, (3) Chukwuleta Ndubuisi –chairmanship (08037444780) – paid N250, 000, (4) Leonard Ezeruo – secretary (08033377282) – paid N200,000, (5) Kenechukwu Anago – secretary (08037307097) – paid N200,000, (6) Uchenna Diogu Uba – secretary (08033267993) – paid N200, 000, (7) Okwudiri Jude Okoro-1st vice chairman (08037949861)-paid N150,000, (8) Ebere Ndukwu – 1st vice chairman (08036527790) – paid N150,000, (9) Chibuzo Nwokeji – 1st vice chairman (08173442208) – paid N150,000, (10) Innocent Nwaukwor – 1st vice chairman (08036725687) – paid N150,000 and (11) Kingsley Ohaelosiuba – 2nd vice chairman (08035407602) – paid N150,000.
They also include: (12) Christopher Nwako – 2nd vice chairman (08036779267) – paid N150,000, (13) Festus Udungwo – 2nd vice chairman (08094387010) – paid N150,000, (14) Emeka Gedegwu – 2nd vice chairman, paid N150,000, (15) Angus Onu – assistant secretary (08037991646) – paid N50,000, (16) Nwadike Tobias – assistant secretary, paid N50,000, (17) John Nwosu – assistant secretary (08037853482) – paid N50,000, (18) Ikechukwu Nwokedi – assistant secretary (08033227128), (19) Nwaike Izuogu – fin secretary (09063786882) – paid N50,000, (20) Tony Max – fin secretary (08037243581) – paid N50,000, (21) Anthony Ezioba – fin secretary (he is the chairman of the caretaker committee) – 09064878284, he paid N50,000, (22) Emeka Agu – treasurer (08035475665) – paid N50,000 and (23) Ernest Nwafor – treasurer (09081082770) – paid N50,000.
Others are: (24) Jude Okafor – public relations officer, paid N50, 000, (25) Uchenna Igboamaeze – public relations officer (08177326311) – paid N50, 000, (26) Nonso Okafor –public relations officer (08034260680) – paid N50,000, (27) Chidi Mbah – public relations officer (08188743525) – paid N50,000, (28) Samuel Nebo – whip (08037910746) – paid N50,000, (29) Mbah Christopher – whip (08136697849) – paid N50,000, (30) Nnamdi Igboeli – whip (08037104727) – paid N50,000, (31) Onwe Okwuchukwu – whip, paid N50,000 and (32) Chinonye Nwaka – whip, paid N50,000
The rest are: (33) Basil IBIK – whip, paid N50,000, (34) Emeka Ogbonna – whip, paid N50,000, (35) Ikechukwu Egbo – whip, paid N50,000, (36) Ugochukwu Ofoma – whip (08064530270) – paid N50,000, (37) Ifeabata Anthony – whip (08064481559) – paid N50,000, (38) Uzoma Nwadike (08063725235) – paid N50,000 and (39) Benjamin Ikebata – whip (08164841417) – paid N50,000. From our rough calculations here, at least N4.5m was forcefully and criminally collected by the Caretaker Committee on behalf of the Government of Anambra State.