Drama as ‘dead’ APC candidate resurfaces at Delta election tribunal
The “dead man,” Christopher Anirah, was subpoenaed to give evidence in the ongoing trial in the case between Gibson Ighofose Akporehe of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Evelyn Omavowan Oboro of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie federal constituency, and he surprised the court when he “rose from the dead” to testify.
Counsel to Akporehe, Charles Umweni, had told the tribunal that Anirah would not come because he died of cardiac arrest and cannot be subpoenaed to give evidence. However, somebody who claimed to be Anirah jumped into the witness box to give evidence when Justice Adebukole Banjoko called out his name.
The action temporally disrupted proceedings, as there was a commotion. The bewildered audience murmured and laughed, giving Justice Banjoko a task to restore calm.
During cross-examination by respondent’s counsel, Onome Egbon, Anirah told the tribunal that he was the rightful candidate of the APC for the said constituency in the 2015 National Assembly election until his name was “fraudulently substituted” with that of Akporehe on account that he (Anirah) was dead.
He allegedly that Akporehe forged a death certificate from a general hospital to claim that he died of cardiac failure and hypertension, with which he deceived the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove his name from the list of contestants.
Anirah also claimed that somebody who posed as his family member was made to testify that the death rumour was true to convince INEC to substitute his name, adding that he has received several death threats through phone calls warning him not to come near the tribunal premises to testify in the ongoing case between Oboro and Akporehe, a threat he has since report to security agents.
“The notice was supported with a forged death certificate signed by a non-existent Dr. Jude Omoefe from a non-existent ‘Government Hospital, Okpe, Orerokpe,’” he said.
“It says Christopher Anirah died of cardiac failure and hypertension. Also backing the notice is an affidavit of death dated January 15, 2015 and deposed to by Okonji at the Ughoton Customary Court, Ughoton, Delta State.”
He took the tribunal through the sequence of events, beginning from when he won the primaries to the morning of March 28, when he was finally told that he had been substituted. Within the period, he said he got wind of the “evil and desperate plot to rob me of my mandate” but all efforts to protect were futile.
According to him, acting on INEC’s advice, he even went to the APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, who he said apologised and promised to call a meeting to discuss the matter in order to revoke the substitution letter, but that never happened, just as he had been making efforts to have the alleged culprits arrested, to no avail.
“I want Nigerians to help me fight this injustice, because if they let these people succeed, it could be another person tomorrow,” he said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Oboro, in her preliminary objection filed from Peter Mrakpor’s Chambers, is asking the tribunal to dismiss Akporehe’s petition for lack of merit, saying it is an abuse of court process.
Justice Adebukola adjourned the matter for adoption of objections and written addresses.