Mbah (left) and Edeoga
The governor-elect of Enugu State and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2023 governorship election, Peter Mbah, has told the Enugu State Governorship and House of Assembly Tribunal that Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party (LP), was not a validly nominated governorship candidate of the LP and lacked the locus to challenge his emergence as governor-elect.
Mbah, in his submission, revealed that Chijioke Edeoga, who participated in the governorship primary of the PDP held on 25th May 2022, and who was also recorded to have scored 9 votes in the said primary election, could not under the Electoral Act 2022 be presented by LP as its candidate.
The governor-elect quoted Section 77 (2) and (3) which provided that “Every registered political party shall maintain a register of its members in both hard and soft copy. Each political party shall make such register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses, or convention.”
The LP governorship primary election held on June 9, 2022, about 15 days after the May 25, 2022, primary election, 2022, where Edeoga was at the venue, contested, and polled nine votes to lose to Dr. Peter Mbah, who recorded 790 votes. Mbah, therefore, maintained that since the essence of submitting the register was to ensure that only members of a political party could vote or be voted for in party primaries, it was impossible for Edeoga to claim that he was a member of LP 30 days before the governorship primary election of the party.
“The other factor standing against Edeoga is that Mr. Casmir Uchenna Agbo deposed to an affidavit to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Court on September 14, 2022, stating that he won the LP governorship primary, which held on June 9, 2022.
“The attempts by Edeoga and Chief Nnia Nwodo to compensate the said Casmir Agbo with the position of the State Chairman of the party cannot help as the evidence has also been presented before the tribunal,” a source in the governor-elect’s camp said.
“Also, the petition filed by Edeoga and LP was not signed by the National Chairman of the party, who is empowered by law to sign every Petition presented before any Tribunal on behalf of the Party. Instead, Edeoga got the same Casmir Uchenna Agbo, who is still bitter at how Edeoga and Nwodo treated him, to sign the petition as state party chairman. Agbo gladly obliged, knowing that Edeoga had committed a fundamental error.
“Truth is that Edeoga’s petition, not being signed by the National Chairman of the LP, renders the petition incompetent,” he added.
Another matter said to be standing against Edeoga is May 19, 2022, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which he reportedly willingly signed, along with other aspirants from Enugu East Senatorial District, under the PDP, to support any of them endorsed by the governor and the party, plus another statement he personally signed, pledging to support and work with Dr. Mbah.
At the meeting, which sources said, was actually initiated by Edeoga, the now LP candidate was present as well as Dr. Peter Mbah, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Senator Gil Nnaji, Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, Dr. Gabriel Ajah, Dr. Kingsley Udeh, Prof. Hilary Edeoga, Chief Evarest Nnaji, Chief Godwin Ogenyi, Pastor Beloved Dan Anike, Hon. Nwabueze Ugwu, Dr. Josef Onoh, Engr. Erasmus Anike, Prof. Jehu Nnaji, and Dr. Chukwudi Nnaji. They signed an MoU to support anyone among them endorsed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as his successor.
In Clause 5 of the MoU, the aspirants committed to “Respect for the Governor of Enugu State and acceptance of his choice of a candidate from this group in the best interest of Enugu East Senatorial Zone and Enugu State at large”. In Clause 6, they committed to “The avoidance of litigation as a result of primaries conducted regardless of who ultimately wins.”