–      says :APC candidate Ihezuo lied on oath

The Labour Party candidate for Orlu State constituency, Comrade Precious Nwadike, has approached the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Owerri, in a bid to reclaim his mandate, which he alleged was stolen by the the All Progressive Congress APC, candidate who he said was not qualified to contest the election abnitio on the grounds of alleged irregularities and discrepancies.

Nwadike, in Petition No EPT/IM/SHA/2023 between Comrade Precious Nwadike, Labour Party as petitioners, and the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, the All Progressive Congress APC and Chief Dr Barr Ikenna Martins Ihezuo, as respondents averred that the grounds on which the petition is based are that, for a person to be qualified to contest for an election in Nigeria such a person must in accordance with the extant electoral Laws, of necessity submit to the Commission (INEC) all the required information about himself to ground his qualification to contest in such election.

All such information must be correct, exact and convey the true position of facts and situation. Where it is adjudged or discovered that the information submitted (some of it Oath) by the would-be candidate then such a person will be disqualified for lying on oath and legal action may be instituted against him. This position is in line with the position of the Electoral Act, 2022 and INEC Regulations and Guideline for the conduct of election 2022.

Over time, aspirants for an electoral position or Candidates have been disqualified for perjury or for one form of misstatement of facts oranother by INEC or by Courts of Law.

In the instant petition, the 3st Respondent submitted all the required information by the Commission and accompanied same with an affidavit or oath in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022.

The Petitioners aver that the essence of the information sought by the 1st Respondent, compulsorily from candidates, is to know of any disqualifying factors which such candidate may be subject to at the time. The 3rd Respondent at the time of supplying the requested document and information to the 1st Respondent was by reasons of his previous convictions and fraudulent involvements in the United States of America disqualified from participating in the election of 18th March, 2023 as a candidate to the office of the Member representing Orlu L.G.A, State Constituency.

The 3rd Respondent was fully aware of this disqualifying pieces of information but went ahead to conceal them and deposed to facts on oath contrary to the true state of his status.

The Petitioners averred that on February, 2008, the Assistant United State Attorney, (AUSA) Allison Danner received an anonymous letter providing further information on some Defendants she was then prosecuting for fraud. The said Defendants were Andrew Ashiegbu, Linda Ashiegbu, Doris Anyanwu, Erhmanuel Anyanwu, Nnamdi Peter Ihezuo and Ikenna Ihezuo (3rd Respondent herein).

The Petitioners further aver that on March, 6 2008, “a CIS TV File,” with the FDNS Unit on Ikenna Ihezuo (3rd Respondent herein) was reviewed by Special agent Brown. The review brought; the following information about the 3rd Respondent to light:

On or about October, 29th 1991, a petition for Alien relative application was received for one Ihezue Martins Ike with a date of birth as October 10, 1960. The said application disclosed that Ihezue Martins Ike was then married to a US citizen by name Lillian Yvonne Brown-Ihezue.

The Petitioners further averred that on or about 08th of May, 1995, one Ikenna Peter Ihezuo made an application to adjust status. The date of birth of the Applicant Ikenna Peter Ihezuo was disclosed as June 08th, 1967. This application also disclosed that the mother of Ikenna Peter Ihezuo was Mary Ihezuo, his father’s name was Martin Ihezuo, his former spouse’s name was Oby Nwanne and he stated that he had no children.

On the 7th day of March, 2008, copies of the photographs and fingerprints associated with each of these records was forwarded by fax to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Processing Centre for analysis. The analysis returned by the examination of the photographs and fingerprints done by the FBI determined that Ikenna Ihezuo. .and Martins Ihezue Ike are one and the same person.

This discovery made by the FBI prompted further investigation into the man Ikenna Ihezuo and it was discovered that he has fraudulently supplied false and falsified documents and information to immigration and US embassy in the course of obtaining Visas. That he also went under different names and used1 different dates of births at different times in order to deceive and defraud unwary individuals.

Based on these discoveries made of his numerous fraudulent acts, the 3rd Respondent Ikenna Martins Ihezuo was recommended to be proceeded against for fraud and to be deported from the United States of America. Pursuant to this recommendation, the 3rd Respondent was prosecuted for fraud and deported back to Nigeria in 2008. A copy of the Notification of Departure of Alien (Bonded) from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S immigration and Customs Enforcement is hereby pleaded and shall be relied upon at the trial.

The 3rd Respondent perjured when he made several untrue and/or false statements in his declaration or Oaths concerning himself as a person, his educational qualifications or background as well as concerning his criminal records.

The Petitioners further plead that the 3rd Respondent was also at the time of the election not qualified to contest for the election to the office of the Member representing Orlu Local Government Area, State Constituency, as he was deported by the United States Government having been, found guilty of the following offences by the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

i.             Filling of false immigration documents

ii.            immigration/marriage fraud for over a decade

iii.          Perjury.

The Petitioner hereby contend that by reason of the said disqualification of the 3rd Respondent, the votes purportedly recorded for the 3rd Respondent in the Election were/are wasted and invalid; and that the 1st Petitioner who from the correct result of the election obtained the highest number of lawful votes cast-in the election and met the constitutional requirements to be declared and returned as the winner of the election, ought to be declared as the winner of the Orlu Local Government Area, State Constituency Election held on the 18th of March, 2023.

Nwadike further stated that, contrary to the stipulated guidelines, the Electoral Act and other external laws, the third respondent was, at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election, adding that for a person to be qualified to contest for an election in Nigeria, such a person must in accordance with the extant electoral laws, of necessity submit to the Commission (INEC) all the required information about himself to ground his qualification to contest such election.

     In addition to that, ‘’he said the 3rd Respondent, submitted all provided all required information and all information required by the Commission alongside an affidavit of oath in line with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022, INEC regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections, 2022 other grounds for which the Labour Party candidate, Precious Nwadike is relying on for the invalidation of the purported victory of the APC candidate in the March 18, Imo State House of Assembly election are as follows: Pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022, the 1st Respondent issued the “Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections, 2022” (hereinafter called “The Regulations’) and the manual for Election Officials, 2023. The said Regulations and Manual, which are hereby pleaded, are binding on the 1st Respondent and its staff with respect to the conduct of all elections, including the election of the member representing Orlu State Constituency elections being challenged in this petition.

     The Petitioners shall contend at the trial that the 1st Respondent was in the course of the elections mandatorily required to prescribe and deploy technological devices for the accreditation, verification, confirmation and authentication of voters, votes and their particulars as contained in the 1st Respondent’s Regulations.

In compliance with the above stated mandatory requirements, the 1st Respondent deployed, in the conduct of the election of 18th March, 2023 for the Member representing Orlu Local Government Area, State Constituency, the use of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and this made its use very mandatory for the purpose of accreditation, verification, confirmation and authentication of voters.

The Petitioners shall rely on the press release issued by the 1st Respondent and signed by Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education for the 1st Respondent dated 11th November, 2022, as it affects the extant election now being challenged wherein it was written inter alia that:

     “the commission has repeatedly reassured Nigerians that it will transmit results directly from the Polling Units as we witnessed in Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections and 103 more Constituencies where off cycle Governorship//FCT Area Council elections and bye-elections were held since August, 2020. The results can still be viewed on the Portal. The IREV is one of the innovations introduced by the Commission to ensure the integrity and credibility of the election result in Nigeria. It is therefore inconceivable that the commission would turn around and undermine its own innovations. The public is advised to ignore the reports. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and IREV have come to stay for Voter accreditation and uploading of polling unit results in real time in Nigeria”.

The Petitioner averred that at the conclusion of the election at each polling unit, the Presiding Officers were mandatorily required to electronically transmit or transfer the result of the polling unit directly to the collation system of the 1st Respondent. In addition, the Presiding Officer was also mandatorily required to use the BVAS to upload a scanned copy of the form EC8A to the 1st Respondent’s Result Viewing Portal (IREV) in real-time.

Where the BVAS failed to function in any polling unit, a new BVAS was to be deployed to ensure that the accreditation process conformed to the prescribed electoral process. However, where the second BVAS also failed to function, the election in that polling unit was to be cancelled and another election shall be rescheduled within twenty-four (24) hours.

Comrade Nwadike and Labour Party in the petition, averred that the election and Return of Ihezuo as winner of the House of Assembly election for Orlu State Constituency election was invalid by reason of the numerous corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 which INEC on several occasions and at different fora promised to abide by.