-Police may initiate criminal charges against him

Following the recent judgments delivered by the courts of appeal on Saturday 6th and yesterday January 8,2021, confirming the judgment of the lower court, that disqualified Frank Ibezim from participating in the Imo North Senatorial bye-election on the grounds of forgery  of academic credential and perjury, the police is said to be ready to initiate criminal charges against him.

A police source in Abuja who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity hinted that the coast is now clear for the police to press criminal charges against Frank Ibezim. This, he said, would serve as a deterrent to other politicians, who, out of desperation go to any length to win elections.

The source stated that the matter that had already been decided by the court of appeal is a civil matter. “ But the police will in no distant time, arraign and prosecute Frank Ibezim for forgery and perjury which are  criminal matters.

“ The onus of the matter that seems to have entangled Frank Ibezim like cobwebs is the allegation that, while filling his expression of interest and nomination form, claimed to have a first degree, a National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate and a West African School Certificate, all of which were allegedly found to be forged.He only presented an affidavit to cover for all the results while claiming that the original results were missing”.

In view of the glaring evidence presented before the court, the federal high court in Abuja on December 4,2020 held that no court can authenticate forged document by way of affidavit deposed to that effect as the court would not assume the role of institutions Frank Ibezim claimed to have attended.

According to the police source, “it was on the basis of those glaring issues of forgery, perjury that Ibezim was again found to be unfit and subsequently disqualified by the court of appeal and barred from holding any public position.”

It could be recalled that the All Progress Congress, APC screening committee and appeal panel had earlier disqualified Ibezim from contesting the primaries on the ground of questionable credential, yet he insisted on contesting against wise counsel.   

Reacting to the developments, one  of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume’s counsel, Barr Emma .I. Nwosu has this to say, “election is a process that starts with intra party and extends to inter party level. Even at the inter party level, it is not conclusive until a court of competent jurisdiction says so. What this implies is that, the court is part of the electoral process.”

Barr Nwosu also confirmed that prior to the senatorial bye-election, Frank Ibezim and five others were disqualified from contesting, while Senator Ararume, Mark Uchedu, Chidinma Uwajumoagu and Bright Nwachukwu were cleared to contest.

He said, “ in an inexplicable twist of events, the Senator Surajido  led APC Primary election committee, after the party’s primaries for the Imo North bye-election, wrote a report, in which Ibezim came first, Mathew Omeghara, second while senator Araraume came third, disregarding the damning reports of both the screening committee and the appeal panel that disqualified Frank Ibezim and Matthew Omegara,” 

“ It is also on record  that the federal high court, Abuja gave a judgment that disqualified Frank Ibezim from contesting the election.Ibezim did not appeal the judgment which was delivered on December 4,2020 until after the election was conducted and won by Senator Araraume.What this  means is that he was not qualified to contest as at the time of the election.”

It was also gathered that Lady Uche Uba who  filed a suit at the federal high court, praying that Ibezim’s name should not be substituted on the ballot box lost at the Federal High Court, though was  upturned by Appeal and Supreme courts on the ground that Ibezim who ought to be party to the matter was not given fair hearing.The Supreme Court which delivered judgement on Friday,  Feburary 5,2021,however did not mandate INEC to issue certificate of return to Ibezim knowing that there is a case of forgery against him which made him unfit to stand in for election.

A cross section of political and legal pundits who commented on the lingering  imbroglio, wondered why the Senator Surajido led APC primary committee set up by the party not only disregarded the damning reports that indicted and disqualified Ibezim from participating in the election but went ahead to write a favorable report for him.