From Godwin Tsa, Abuja, Jude Chinedu, Enugu, Okey Sampson, Umuahia, Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu, Stanley Uzoaru, George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The Federal High Court, yesterday, rejected an application seeking to stop the forthcoming election of the Chief John Nwodo-led Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The Incorporated Trustees of Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly had approached the court with an exparte application seeking to stop the forthcoming election into the various offices of the group.
But Justice Iyang Ekwo ordered the plaintiff to put the defendants on notice and adjourned the matter till January 15, next year.
The suit has Ohanaeze Ndigbo (Nwodo’s faction), Chief John Nwodo, Corporate Affairs Commission, Attorney General of the Federation and Inspector General of Police as 1st to 5th respondents respectively.
In an exparte application dated December 7 and filed on its behalf by Mr Amobi Nzelu, the plaintiff is praying the court for an interim injunction restraining the first and second respondents from conducting any election into the various offices of the first respondent fixed for December 2020/January 2021 pending the determination of the motion on notice filed in respect of this matter.
The plaintiff also prayed the court for an order restraining Nwodo from doing anything in furtherance of the said election into the various offices of the first respondent fixed for December 2020/ January 2021 pending the determination of the motion on notice and another order restraining the AGF and police from allowing the faction led by Chief Nwodo from conducting the said election.
In a 29 paragraph affidavit in support of the motion exparte, the plaintiff claimed that the first respondent is an illegal association having not been registered by the CAC under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
In the affidavit deposed to by Mr Onuorah Onyeachonam, president general of the Incorporated Trustees of Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly, plaintiff argued that the first respondent not being a registered association should not be allowed to operate.
Nzelu argued that if not stopped, the election into the various offices of the first defendant will be a stamp and seal on illegality.
After listening to the argument of the plaintiff, Justice Ekwo held that the reliefs sought cannot be granted without first hearing from the respondents.
He, therefore, ordered that the respondents be put on notice.
While adjourning the suit to January 15, 2021, he said the plaintiff can apply to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for the matter to be taken during vacation.
However, embatled secretary general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Uche Okwukwu, has warned that the apex Igbo socio-cultural body risked factionalisation following the setting up of an electoral committee on Sunday.
Chief Okwukwu, who described the committee now chaired by Chief Enwo Igariwey as unconstitutional, said the crisis which it would generate could present the Igbo as disunited and possibly harm the clamour for the South East to produce Nigeria’s president in 2023.
Okwukwu, who ha been at loggerheads with the Chief Nnia Nwodo-led Ohaneaze was recently suspended though he claimed he remained the scribe of the Igbo umbrella body.
“The purported Imeobi where they set up the electoral committee is null and void because only the secretary-general has the power to do so by the Ohanaeze constitution. An illegal meeting was held and they set up an electoral committee, which in my humble view is illegal, you can’t place something on nothing.”
Okwukwu, who spoke to journalists in Enugu, yesterday, also faulted the timing of the election, noting that “our tenure will end on 10th of January, 2021, technically speaking, we have about 20 days to the end of our tenure, this electoral committee would have been set up some three months ago, to go ahead draw guidelines, screen some candidates, because these days you to screen everything because of the issues of certificates in the country.
“My fear is that there may be parallel Ohanaeze. If something goes wrong, those who are aggrieved may announce a parallel Ohanaeze. I have warned, those who are desirous to do wrong should know that they cannot dominate the space. God forbid that there is parallel Ohanaze, how would the Igbo be perceived, are we not going to be seen as people who are scattered?
“If there is a parallel Ohaneaze it will survive very well, but it will send a wrong signal that we are not united and Igbo presidency will suffer a setback because we need the entire Igbo race to come together and speak with one voice. A crack that will lead to factionalisation will not be in the interest of Ohanaeze, it will undermine us. We are likely going to lose the 2023 presidency, because even as we are talking now, our house is not yet in order.”
While calling on Igbo elders to rise up and save the body, he announced that another Imeobi would hold on December 31 during which another electoral committee, as well as a caretaker committee would be set-up to pilot the affairs of Ohanaeze for the next six months.
I’m led by inspiration to contest not ambition -Obiozor
Professor George Obiozor has affirmed that he is inspired to lead the organisation.
Obiozor, at a press conference in Owerri said age is not a factor in chosing who becomes PG.
“As for energy, we’re not going for a mile race, if we are going for a mile race, may be we look for a young Igbo but this is Ohanaeze, we have to look deeper than that. Who is the head of Afenifere? Do you know why they are better than us? Who is the head of the Arewa?
“One of the greatest problem of new generation Igbo is pride. After looking at all this things, when you’re going for war of giants don’t look for dwarfs. The situation in Nigeria requires the best. PG is not my ambition, it is my inspiration. Igbo don’t need partisan politician.”
Obiozor noted that for a long time, Igbo have lacked attention from those who had ruled the country. To correct that, he said the zone must be prepared to attract attention from the ruling powers.
On why he consulted Iwuanyanwu, he explained: “When they talked about who will be the man that will raise the hope of Ndigbo, that was why I went to Iwuanyanwu. He has succeeded in business, politics and many other ventures you could think of. I started with Iwuanyanwu because he has succeeded in his own career. For Igbo, success is the greatest revenge against injustice.
He atrributed his alleged slump during a meeting at Enugu to misinterpretation by journalists at the event.
Ex-envoy joins race
Former Nigeria’s Consul General in South Africa, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, has joined the race for secretary position.
The position is zoned to Abia State.Emuchay, a native of Azumini, Ukwa East Local Government said he would chart a new course for the organisation if elected.
Ambassador Emuchay said he has been projecting the Igbo course as he was literally preoccupied with solving the problems and promoting the multiferous interests of Igbo people who are the largest and most visible Nigerian group in Southern Africa.
“As the Secretary General of Ohaneze, I will not need lessons on what constitutes the interests of Ndigbo at home or abroad.