Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Pro-Biafran groups pull out of UPP a week after Anambra guber primary

Image result for pictures of United progressives party logo

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

The crisis rocking the United Progressives Party (UPP), Anambra State chapter seemed to be getting tougher as two prominent pro-Biafra groups, Movement of Biafrans in Nigeria (MOBIN) and Biafra Students Union (BIASU) which hitherto adopted the political party as ‘Biafran party,’ have pulled out of it over an alleged irregularity that trailed it gubernatorial primary won by former Aviation Minister, Chief Osita Chidoka.
 Image result for pictures of UPP logo and Ada Biafra
The UPP internal crisis, news48hrs.com recalled begun with its Anambra State Chairman, Sylvester Igwilo suspending the party’s two gubernatorial aspirants and some national officers, an action that provoked the party’s national leadership to dissolve the entire Anambra executive.

As both the state and national executives of the party resolved their differences at Enugu on August 18, 2017, the primary election was subsequently conducted in Awka, the Anambra State capital during which the former minister of aviation emerged UPP Anambra November 18, 2017 gubernatorial candidate by pulling 1,222 votes to defeat his opponent, Hon Chudi Offodile who got 87 votes.

Since then, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Ogbuehi Dike and Hon. Chudi Offodile, the defeated governorship aspirant and his campaign manager, Dr. Law Mefor have been engaging on media war, explaining and countering the event surrounding the election’s outcome.

The MOBIN and BIASU which are under the leadership of Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra (CG-IPOB), alleged that the UPP party gubernatorial primary would have become the freest and fairest in the country as it represents the indigenous peoples of Biafra, if not that it later turned out to be the worst rape and murder of fairness, justice and democracy in recent time.

According to the Director General of MOBIN, Rita Eberechukwu Anigbogu, the group had on August 6 written to the party, asking that the original delegates list should be used for the elections since the party published a fraudulent one in its website and Chief Chekwas Okorie, the UPP national chairman reassured them that the issues of mutilation of list would be addressed.

“Instead of addressing the obvious fraud, the UPP had generated a new garbled list, worse than the first. MOBIN intercepted it two days before the primary, and the inconsistencies were so glaring that men were made women leaders, dead people's names were seen in the list, and entire strangers were used to replace Ward executives in most cases.

“But that is not all. Also intercepted were fake national identity cards. A delegate told us that the ID cards were made in her presence and given to them to use for the purpose of the primaries, and destroy them thereafter. She also said that all the fake names on the list will be issued with a fake party membership card.

“Immediately after, another petition was written to the party chairman. MOBIN stated that the matter was an emergency that required urgent need for this to be addressed as the image of the party was at stake. He neither acknowledged receipt of this document nor did he reply.

“Due to these developments, MOBIN issued a press statement on 17th August, pointing out these irregularities and warning that if they are not checked, we will be faced with cases of fraud worse than that of other political parties the UPP claims it is better than” Anigbogu further claimed.

She also alleged that on Saturday, 19th August, 2017, the cases reported earlier were seen playing out as according to her, delegates who had come from their various local governments and wards were refused accreditation with the excuse that they should wait, while unknown faces were called out to represent the same local governments and wards.

“Right there in their presence, party membership cards were being issued to these aliens and party executives just stood around and watched. The party violated its own laws, and condoned the worst political fraud ever witnessed in Nigeria since 1999. Naturally, the delegates began to express displeasure and challenged the party for denying them the rights to vote. The police began to shoot into the crowd, and people scampered for safety.

“A woman was shot in the leg in the process. As if that was not enough, canisters of teargas were fired at will at the confused crowd. A ward chairman, Hon. Uwakwe Maduabuchi, chairman of Owerre Ezukala Ward 1 fell in the whole confusion and suffocated, giving up the ghost as a result of asphyxiation from the as the very heavy fumes of teargas. His corpse is currently at the mortuary.

“Our alliance with the UPP is currently under review. At the moment, there may be chances of considering alternatives that will be ready to defend the freedom ideology that we preach and uphold. Already, a number of options are cropping up and discussions are ongoing. But be assured that in a few days time, MOBIN shall come up with a position regarding the way forward,” she added.

On his part, Comrade Victor Uche, President of BIASU, while calling on the general public to withdraw their support from UPP, alleged that the party sold it Biafra ideology by manipulating the original delegates lists for the August 19, 2017 primary poll as a result of its corrupt national executives who according to him, were disregarding its earlier self determination ideology, equity, fairness, justice & freedom.

Also, the Biafran Voice International (BVI Channel 1), a broadcast arm of CG-IPOB, has also pulled out of UPP, vowing to make it irrelevant similar way, it reportedly made it relevant.
Hon Offordile, a two term member of House of Representative for Awka north and South Federal Constituency, had two days to the primary election complained of alleged falsification of delegates list by officials of the party and followed it by tendering notice of withdrawal from the race at about 11am, while delegates were being accredited for the polls, alleging lack of confidence in the exercise.

Offodile alleged that “After a hotly contested ward and local government congress in June 2017, in line with Article 10[4] of the UPP constitution, a delegates list comprised of local government chairmen and secretaries and ward chairmen, secretaries, treasurers, youth leaders and women leaders was compiled and counter signed by the state chairman and secretary and all the local government chairmen and forwarded to the national headquarters for record purposes.

“To the surprise and consternation of party members, a delegates list copiously at variance with the list of ELECTED delegates was uploaded on the website of the UPP on the 29th of July 2017 and variously amended on the 4th and 5th of August 2017. The website list contained strange names with no phone numbers unlike the authentic delegates list that had the phone numbers of all delegates displayed. 

“When accreditation commenced on Saturday the 19th of August, the day of the primaries, I got information that only those whose names appeared on the website list were being allowed into the venue. I drove down to the venue at about 9am and handed over a letter of protest to the election committee chairman, Chief Ejike Uche and the chairman of the party in Anambra state, Dr Sylvester Igwilo. I threatened to withdraw from the primaries if they insist on the use of the illegal register.

“When the call fell on deaf ears and considering the fact that my Christian faith and the Biafran Ideology we profess, places a high premium on human life, I promptly withdrew from the exercise. I consider it unconscionable for the party to have carried on with the primaries under the circumstances”. 

The National Publicity Secretary of UPP, Chief Dike Ogbuehi, while reacting on behalf of the party, described the allegations as malicious, unsubstantiated and unprovoked vituperations against the UPP and its leadership.

He, however, noted that the current response from Hon. Offodile was not new to the party as he has been blaming everybody else for his political failure stating from his days in PDP and APGA.

“The question any discerning member of the public should ask is who has the motivation to hire thugs and cause public disorder that compelled the Police to fire teargas canisters to disperse the melee that occurred at the venue of the accreditation of delegates to the Primary Election?

“Why is it that it was a few minutes that after Hon. Offodile handed over his letter of protest to the Congress Committee conducting the accreditation exercise that all hell was let loose, even after over 1000 delegates had been accredited successfully and conveyed to Emmaus House, venue of the Primary Election? 

“The story of the various intrigues and subterfuge deployed by Hon. Offodile to scuttle the well-planned Governorship Primary Election at Awka are still unfolding. The Police are yet to make their investigation public. An aspect in which Hon. Offodile sponsored litigation to scuttle the Congress well in advance of the date of the Congress is still pending at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja and will be heard on 29th August, 2017”.

Dr. Law Mefor, on his part, said he learnt of the manipulated delegate list from MOBIN, which entered a partnership agreement with the UPP as its mobilization agent, discovered that the alteration done by the national was over 50%, among other grave discrepancies that made the list justifiably contentious and unacceptable to many.
According to him, that led to the problems between the Anambra State UPP executive and the national executive and the spate of suspensions and dissolutions that attended the party just before its primary.

“I believe that the main reason Hon. Chudi Offodile withdrew from the race and subsequently, from the party after a delegate also died, protesting the exclusion of his Ward executives from accreditation for voting. Chief Chike Ogbuehi’s statement glossed over such real points at issue and was more interested in being politically and legally correct, and passing the buck of the responsibility of the death of Hon. Comrade Maduabuchi Uwakwe who died of teargas suffocation during accreditation, following the avoidable reckless use of teargas by the police.

“Chief Ogbuehi needs to be reminded that if the over 50% of delegates (he chose to call hired thugs of Hon. Chudi Offodile) on the original list were not replaced, even with non-UPP members who were seen (and caught on video tapes) openly filling UPP membership cards at the accreditation arena, there wouldn't have been protests and Uwakwe would be alive today.

“May I also place on record that my idea of Biafra ideology, which the UPP says it has adopted, is of the same kind as integrity, honesty, fairness, and above all, respect for the people, which, to me, translates to internal party democracy. With what has happened in the UPP so far, there is nothing different from what obtains from the other political parties that the UPP seeks to upstage, if its members are not allowed to determine who would be their delegates and ultimately, the party flag bearer. It is exactly those same charades that made some us to join UPP, believing it is any different”.



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