….purportedly “dead candidate” seeks prosecution of APC leaders
…..says “I want the world to know I’m not dead
…..they got a fake man who signed as my family head
…..lawyer demands N2bn from APC
By Our Correspondents.
It sounds more strange than fiction. For real, it is one of many intrigues and subterfuge that characterized the just concluded general elections.
Now, the 49-year -old politician and victim the act, Mr Christopher Anirah, has called on relevant security agencies to investigate some leaders of the All Progressives Congress in Delta State, who allegedly forged his ‘death certificate’ in order to disqualify him from contesting the March 28 National Assembly elections.
Anirah told News Investigators in Abuja, that some leaders of the APC in the state allegedly robbed him of the party’s House of Representatives ticket for Okpe, Sapele and Uvwie Federal Constituency of the state in the last general elections.
Documents, including the party’s result sheet and the final list of candidates published by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, indicated that he won the APC primaries held on Dec. 7, 2014.
But Anirah specifically alleged that some APC leaders in the state, including the Deputy Chairman, Mr Cyril Ogodo, and the Secretary, Mr Chidi Okonji, conspired to deny him the party ticket at the 11th hour in favour of one Mr Gibson Akporehe.
He further alleged that the men carried out the wicked plot in connivance with the state chairman of the party, Mr Jones Erhue, and the APC candidate in the April 11 Governorship Election in the state, Mr Otega Emerhor, among others.
Displaying documents obtained from INEC records, Anirah told our correspondents that the alleged conspirators perfected their “satanic agenda” by forging his death certificate with which they deceived INEC into substituting him with Akporehe on the eve of the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
He also accused the APC national chairman, Mr. John Odigie-Oyegun, of “turning a blind eye to the plot even when he was notified through series of letters and physical contacts that I, (Anirah) was alive.”
Among the documents made available was the letter of substitution from Odigie-Oyegun which was dated Jan. 20, 2015, and addressed to the chairman of INEC.
The five-paragraph letter, marked APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/015/108, was titled, “DEATH OF SUBSTITUTED CANDIDATE: OKPE, SAPELE, AND UVWIE FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY, DELTA STATE FOR THE HOUS OF REPRESENTATIVES”.
It reads in part “We regret to inform you of the death of Mr Christopher Anirah, our substituted candidate for Delta State representing Okpe, Sapele and Uvwie Federal Constituency for the House of Representatives.
“Please find attached the notification letter from the family, affidavit and death certificate for your perusal and retention.
“Please be advised that we request that Hon. Gibson Akporehe initially submitted by the Party should be reinstated as our candidate accordingly…
“Odigie-Oyegun’s letter to INEC is based on a similar one he received from the Delta State chapter of the APC through Okonji, the state secretary. The title of Okonji’s letter is, “SUBSTITUTION OF A DEAD CANDIDATE”.
It reads, “Sequel to the sad and shocking news we received from the Anirah family of Sapele, on the sudden death of Christopher Anirah, who was our candidate for the House of Representatives elections, we are compelled to put forward the name of Gibson Ighofose Akporehe, as a replacement candidate for the Okpe, Sapele and Uvwie Federal Constituency of Delta State in the February 2015, National Assembly Elections.”
The letter was dated Jan. 15, 2015 and was written before the elections were postponed till March 28.
Attached to the Okonji’s letter was a copy of the death notification from the Anirah family also dated Jan. 15.
It was signed by one Odibo Anirah, who the ‘dead candidate’ has dismissed as non-existent in his family.
The fake death reads: “I, Odibo Anirah, the head of the Anirah family of Sapele, with a deep sense of loss and grief wish to convey to you on behalf of my family, the death of our brother, Christopher Anirah, which sad event occurred on the 14th of January, 2015.
“Until his death, he was the candidate of your party for the Okpe, Sapele and Uvwie Federal Constituency of Delta State in the 2015 National Assembly Elections. My family shall notify your party of the burial arrangements in due course.”
The notice was supported with the alleged forged death certificate signed by a non-existent Dr Jude Omoefe from a non-existent Government Hospital Okpe, Orerokpe, stating that Christopher Anirah died of cardiac failure and hypertension.
Also backing the notice was an affidavit of death dated Jan. 15, 2015 and deposed to by Okonji at the Ughoton Customary Court, Ughoton, Delta State.
Anirah’s lawyer, Mr. Frank Tietie, has formally written to the APC demanding a N2bn compensation on behalf of his client for the “financial, emotional and psychological pains” he and his family suffered in the matter.
In a letter dated May 7, 2015 and addressed to the party’s national chairman, Tietie said his client’s would head to court to initiate criminal proceedings against the accused party leaders should the party fail to respond to the demand.
Tietie, who was with Anirah at the news conference, said; “What we have just seen is a situation where desperate politicians have exhibited no boundary in carrying out whatever their ambitions are.
“My client was said to be dead. There is even a fake death certificate to that effect. Let’s not forget the fact that my client was the authentic candidate of the APC for the Okpe, Sapele and Uvwie Federal Constituency of Delta State.
“What we want to ensure here is that we still have a regime of law, what we call rule of law, in this country. We expect that with all that my client has gone through, he has been denied his rights as a candidate who won the primaries of the APC.
“All the efforts he made to convince Chief John Oyegun, the National Chairman of APC, that he is alive, and then the efforts he made even at INEC to convince Ibrahim Bawa that he was alive and that there was no justification in substituting him, were brushed aside.
“A death certificate was issued that a living man is dead, and then INEC was convinced against the law to substitute him. It is unfair, it is illegal and it is also punishable under our laws, and this will be a true test case for the punishment of electoral offenders, and also for the punishment of those who ride roughshod on our laws.
“We expect that there should be no stone left unturned on the part of the IGP, and also on the part of the Attorney General of the Federation, to ensure that all these persons are arrested, prosecuted and jailed for this obvious act of lawlessness and criminality”
Anirah further explained to journalists, how he won the primaries and how the party chiefs told him in the early of March 28 that he had been substituted.
“I got wind of the evil and desperate plot to rob me of my mandate, but all my efforts to protect it ended in futility,” he lamented.
He said, “After the primaries, I travelled briefly out of the country. When I returned on Jan. 23, I heard that one Cyril Ogodo, the deputy state chairman of my party, had sold my mandate to one Gibson Akporehe. The party claimed not to know about it.
“When I formally reported the matter to the party, the state chairman, Erhue, and the governorship candidate, Emerhor, instructed the deputy state chairman, Ogodo, to go back and restore my name, which he did.
“Surprisingly, after my name had entered the final list of INEC, I got wind of their plan to substitute me on the grounds that I was dead. I now wrote to APC and INEC..
“I went there myself to submit the letters in which I informed them that some people were faking my death in order to substitute me.
“That was on Jan. 24. Before then, during our campaign at Orerokpe, the APC governorship candidate told the people at the rally that in a few days time they would know who would be the House of Representatives candidate.
After the rally I met him and asked why he made such statement knowing I was the candidate. He just smiled and didn’t say anything.
“Five days later, I got a call from INEC in Abuja that if I was alive I should come to their office at 7 a.m. the next day. The call came at about 9 p.m. That same night, I left Sapele at 11 p.m., drove overnight to INEC in Abuja where I met Mr Ibrahim Bawa, the head of legal unit of the commission.
“They interviewed me during which I gave them evidences that I was alive. They then assured me that I could not be substituted because I was alive. They said that they were not happy over the issue, asking why the APC of all party did such a thing.
“They said I should meet the APC national chairman who signed the letter of substitution to revoke it.”
Acting on the INEC advice, Anirah said that he went to Odigie-Oyegun, who he said apologised and promised to call a meeting to discuss the matter in order to have the substitution letter revoked.
“What I saw was that on March 27, a day to my election, the APC leaders went back to submit the same letter to INEC that I was dead and then submitted the same forged death certificate.
“On the strength of that, INEC headquarters then wrote to its office in Asaba, Delta State, that I was dead and should be substituted I was informed at 8 a.m. on the day of the election that I had been replaced.
“I want the media and the good people of Nigeria to help me fight this injustice, because if they let these people succeed it could be their turn tomorrow. It is unfair and inhuman for a man that is alive to be technically erased from the surface of this earth.
“My mother, children and friends are yet to get over the shock they experienced when they got the news that I was dead. The embarrassment I get wherever I go that I’m dead, is unbearable.
“I want the world to know that I’m not dead, I am alive. It’s just some people in APC that want me dead, and if anything happens to me and my family, they should be held responsible, because they want to kill me; they want me dead.”