DELTA: ‘Dead’ APC Man Seeks Arrest Of Oyegun, Emerhor, Others Over Fake Death Certificate
UP in arms against Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is Chief Christopher Anirah, over an alleged forged death certificate, which resulted in his substitution as the party’s candidate in the last April election into the House of Representatives election for the Okpe, Sapele and Uvwie Federal Constituency in Delta State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disqualified the top member of the APC from contesting the election based on the certificate reportedly submitted by the party to the electoral umpire.
He was allegedly replaced with Mr. Gibson Akporehe. Anirah is, therefore, demanding that the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, order the arrest and prosecution of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Apart from Oyegun, Anirah, who spoke from a secret location, wants the police to arrest and prosecute Chief O´tega Emerhor, the party’s governorship candidate in the last election, as well as Mr. Gibson Akporehe, the party’s House of Representatives candidate who substituted him, following his purported death.
The politician, who has since gone underground because of threats to his life, said the APC Deputy state Chairman, Mr. Cyril Ogodo, Mr. Member Eghelenohor and Mr. Igho Okirikpo are also culpable.
There was commotion at the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Asaba on August 12 when Anirah who was presumed dead made a surprise appearance in court and opened a can of worms.
Anirah, who was subpoenaed to give evidence in an election petition case between Akporehe of the APC and Mrs. Evelyn Omavowan Obor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), surprised the court when he “rose from the dead” to give his testimony.
The court had just started sitting for the day when counsel to Akporehe, Mr. Charles Umweni, told the tribunal that Anirah could not come to the tribunal to testify because he had died of cardiac arrest.
But to the amazement of the court, Anirah stormed the tribunal and jumped into the witness box, as Justice Adebukole Banjoko called his name. The action temporarily disrupted proceedings, as the bewildered audience murmured and laughed, prompting Justice Banjoko to hit the gavel on the desk and call for order.
During examination by counsel to the respondent, Mr. Onome Egbon, Anirah told the tribunal that he was the rightful candidate of the APC for the constituency in the 2015 National Assembly election until his name was “fraudulently substituted” with that of Akporehe on the ground that he (Anirah) was dead. Continuing, he told the tribunal that Akporehe allegedly, “forged a death certificate from a General Hospital that I died of cardiac failure and hypertension”.
He also told the tribunal that somebody who posed as his family member was made to testify that the death was true, to convince INEC to carry out their plan of substituting his name.
Anirah said he has received several death threats through phone calls warning him not to come near the tribunal premises to testify in the matter between Oboro and Akporehe, as doing so would be at his own peril. He added that the threats have since been reported to the security agents.
He said: “The notice was supported with a forged death certificate signed by a non-existent Dr. Jude Omoefe from a non-existent Government Hospital in Okpe, Orerokpe. 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 one Okonji at the Ughoton Customary Court, Ughoton, Delta State. An emotional Anirah 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 hit with the news of his substitution.
He said he got wind of the “evil and desperate plot” to rob him of his mandate, but all his efforts to protect same failed. “After the primaries, I traveled briefly out of the country.
When I returned on January 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 it did not know about it. “When I formally reported the matter to the party, the state chairman, Erhue, and the gubernatorial candidate, Emerhor, instructed the deputy state chairman, Ogodo, to go back and restore my name, which he did after collecting some amount of money from me.”
He added: “Surprisingly, after my name had entered the final list of INEC, I got wind of their plan to substitute me on the ground that I was dead. I wrote to APC and INEC (copies of which he also tendered). I went there myself to submit the letters.
I informed them that some people were faking my death in order to substitute me. That was on January 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 and a commissioner between me and Akporehe.
After the rally, I met him and asked why he made such a 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 7am the next day.
The call came at about 9pm. That same night, I left Sapele at 11pm, drove to INEC office in Abuja where I met Mr. Ibrahim Bawa, the head of legal unit of the commission. “They interviewed me and I gave them evidence 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 about the issue, asking why the APC, of all parties, did such. 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 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, Oyegun, Cyril and Otega conspired and 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 wrote (he also had a certified copy of the letter) to its office in Asaba, Delta State that I was dead and should be substituted.
I was informed at 8am on the day of the election that I had been replaced.” According to Anirah, since then he had been making efforts to have the alleged perpetrators 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’s 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.”
He said that he initially reported the matter to the Delta State Police Command, Asaba, but Emerhor allegedly used his influence to stop any arrests.
Not relenting in his quest for justice, Anirah said that in frustration he went to the Zone 5 police office in Benin, Edo State, to report the matter.
In Benin, he said he met the Assistant Inspector General, Mr. Musa Daura, who directed Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fave Samali, to handle the case, adding that he swung into action immediately by summoning courage to invite Oyegun for questioning.
He lamented that the “brazen action” made Samali to almost lose his job as he was reportedly “exiled” to a “Siberian village” in Lagos for daring to question Oyegun, who ordinarily has no immunity or waiver under any law in the country.
He said the Inspector General, Oyegun’s homeboy from Edo State, personally, got involved in the case and transferred it to Abuja where he was invited for questioning and gave statement, but surprisingly, since April 2015 till date Arase has neither arrested nor prosecuted those involved.
He said: “These persons have committed a crime against the Nigerian State and the IG, being the most senior officer of the law in Nigeria, should not show favour to any person in any matter.
I am still waiting to hear any action of the IG on the matter. I believe the notion that some people in Nigeria are ‘beyond the law’ is why they went ahead to declare me dead on March 27 2015 and later again declared me dead in August 2015 at the election tribunal in Asaba, where I was subpoenaed.”
Anirah said he was amused when he read a report in one online media, which quoted the APC National Chairman as denying ever having seen or known him in person.
I want Nigerians to help me fight this injustice, because if they let these people succeed, it could be another person’s 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
He explained that when he wrote to INEC over the issue, he copied the party’s national office in Abuja and even met Oyegun in person in his Abuja residence earlier this year to inform him that he was hale and hearty.
He said he even took photographs with Oyegun, but that in a desperate move to clear his name, the National Chairman is now feigning ignorance of the whole drama.
He vowed to publish the photographs at the right time. Anirah added: “Oyegun promised it will never happen again but I was surprised to see that less than 24 hours to the election he aided this group of political miscreants that lied about my death by forwarding a letter to INEC for me to be substituted.
It is regrettable that a man who cannot keep to his word is the chairman of our honourable party, the APC.” The State Secretary of APC, Mr. Chidi Okonji, said he was not part of the plot.
He said: “I was never a part of the cabal which forged the certificate of Anirah. Anirah won the primaries of Okpe, Sapele, Uvwie Federal Constituency. I was never aware of his purported death. I am aware that Anirah is alive. He is hale and hearty and couldn’t have declared him dead. My signature was forged.
It is crystal clear that the signature in the letter of substitution is not mine.” Confirming the petition from the beleaguered politician to the Delta State Police, which called for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators, the spokesperson, Celestina Kalu, explained that Anirah never followed up after he submitted it.
Kalu, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, said the police were set to thoroughly investigate the case before he suddenly petitioned the Zone 5 Headquarters in Benin, where the case was then transferred to Abuja for further investigations. She said: “We are not covering up for anybody. Anirah actually petitioned, claiming that he was wrongfully declared dead.
He called for the prosecution of top members of the APC, but suddenly bypassed us and went to Zone 5 in Benin. We had to back off. We were ready to investigate.” Anirah insisted that he is still a bona fide member of the APC contrary to rumours making the rounds that he has decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after his testimony at the election tribunal.
He said: “I have not at anytime conceived the idea of decamping. I am still a loyal, committed and trustworthy member of the APC. As regard my appearance in court in the Delta State Electoral Tribunal in Asaba, I did not go to court to support or be a witness for the PDP as it has been rumoured.
I went to court in response to the subpoena served me by the Election Tribunal to testify.” Insisting on the arrest and prosecution of Oyegun and company, Anirah said his person and reputation have been seriously damaged as a result of the activities of few persons whose plan it is to destroy his political carrier and crumble the party.