Did Senator Ayogu Eze forge the Peoples Democratic Party’s result sheets with which he returned himself as the winner of a supposed parallel primary election on 8th December? This has remained one of the hottest political issues in Enugu and beyond since the Enugu State chapter of the party leveled the allegation against Senator in a petition to the Police. This is one matter the Nigeria Police and the perhaps the courts would have to resolve as a matter of urgency.
To refresh our memories, the state’s PDP conducted a primary election on 8th December last year where it elected a Member of the House of Representatives, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as its candidate for the 28thFebruary, 2015 governorship election. Ugwuanyi was declared winner by the PDP national electoral panel in the State led by King Asara Asara, having polled 937 out of the 983 votes cast by both elected ad-hoc delegates and the statutory delegates. President Goodluck Jonathan and the party’s National Chairman capped it up with the presentation of the party’s flag to Ugwuanyi, who is now neck deep into a statewide campaign with other party stakeholders to deliver the PDP in all the elections in the State.
On the other hand, however, is Senator Ayogu Eze who claims that delegates loyal to him had also conducted a parallel primary election and “elected” him candidate with 530 votes, while Dr. Samuel Onyishi supposedly got 30, Anayo Onwuegbu 10, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi 15, Hon. Eugene Odoh 25, Prof. Onyeke Onyeke 20, and Chinedu Onu 31. But no member of the PDP national electoral panel or party state or local government executive, INEC observation team statutory delegate or accredited ad-hoc delegate was in attendance in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, thus leaving a lot of gaping legal holes in his claim.
Besides, an Enugu High Court had also restrained Senator Eze from parading himself as the Enugu guber candidate. In addition, the Senator and Sam Onyishi are already in an Abuja Federal High Court to slug it out with the PDP and Ugwuanyi. The court presided over by Justice Eboh Chukwu had earlier declined Senator Eze’s prayers to restrain the PDP from submitting any name other than his to INEC or stopping INEC from accepting any name of candidate other than his. Both Senator Eze and Onyishi’s cases slated for January 14 in the same court could not be heard due to the industrial action by the judicial workers.
However, while the legal fireworks go on, all eyes are on the Nigeria Police as Nigerians to see what becomes of the PDP’s petition urging them to “arrest and prosecute Eze for the uttering and forgery of PDP Result sheet in accordance with the dictates of the law.”
The petition reads in part: “The party, from the National headquarters, appointed a five-man electoral committee to conduct the primaries for the election of the Governorship candidate for Enugu State. The members of the panel were King Asara A. Asara (Chairman), Barrister Ukpai Ukairo (Secretary), Barrister Saratu Umar, Engr. Alamu Adeyemi and myself as the State Chairman of the party.
“The members came with the official result sheets from the party headquarters, as well as the ballot papers and other materials required to conduct the primary election. At the end of the electoral exercise, the members issued a result of the election wherein they returned Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as having won the election.
“Surprisingly, Senator Eze who was a candidate at the said primary election has now uttered (legal term) a result purporting same to be the result of the said primary election of 8th December, 2014. The said result was produced on a forged result sheet purporting same to be the result sheet of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“I hereby enclose the original result sheet of the party, which has the name of the party, the logo of the party, the address of the national Secretariat and the serial number of the result sheet issued out to the panel, the signatures of the National Chairman, the National Secretary, the National Organizing Secretary, the returning officer and the Electoral Officer. I mark same as Annexure I.
“I also annex as Annexure 2, the purported result of the primary election written on the forged result sheet purporting same to be the result sheet of the party. A look at this Annexure 2 will show that it does not contain the essentials of the authentic result sheet of the party as enumerated above.”
For me, it is either the PDP is lying or Senator Ayogu Eze is guilty as accused. But if the PDP, which is in the best position to know which is genuine result sheets, the Senator has a cause to worry. With such elaborate differentiations between the genuine result sheets and the forged document by the party itself, the onus is on Senator Eze to prove his innocence. Sadly, he has not come up with any logical statement explaining how he came about the result sheets or if they were genuine, whether himself or his supposed “authentic delegates” were permitted by law to handle such a document.
Section 465 of the Criminal Code Act CAP C38 LFN provides that “A person who makes a false document or writing knowing it to be false, and with the intent that it may in any way be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in the State or elsewhere, to the prejudice of any person, or with intent that any person, may in the belief that it is genuine be included to do or refrain from doing any act, whether in the state or elsewhere, is said to forge the document or writing”
Section 467 of the same Act provides for the punishment for the said offence. According to the Section, “Any person who forges any document, writing or seal is guilty of an offence, which unless otherwise stated, is a felony, and he is liable, if no other punishment is provided, to an imprisonment for three years.”
It therefore follows that the issue of making a false result sheet of the PDP raises serious issues of forgery contrary to Section 465 of the Criminal Code Act. Such puts the Nigerian Police on the spot to urgently follow the matter to a conclusive end even as far as the courts if need be. It is in the interest of democracy, including Ayogu’s to do so because an alleged criminal offence cannot be treated as a PDP familiar affair.
The Ayogu Eze saga presents us with an opportunity to halt the gale of “parallel” primaries across the parties and define how far an aspirant could go on his/her own in pursuit of his/her political ambition.