The suspended Secretary General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Uche Okwukwu and the factional Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo electoral committee, Prince Richard Ozuobu, has dragged the organization to court over the purported suspension of Okwukwu as the Secretary- General and the election of Prof. George Obiozor as the new President General of the organisation.
In the suit No. FCT/HC/BCO/CV/12/21 filed at an Abuja High Court, the plaintiffs joined the Incorporated Trusted Trustees of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as co-defendants.
The originating summons brought in pursuance to Order 2 Rule 1, 3 and 4 of the High Court of the Federal capital Territory (Civil Procedure) Rules 2018 and Section 6 (6) (B) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by the plaintiffs, was issued upon the application of their counsel, Godwin Diugwu.
Okwukwu and Ozuobu, in their application, want the court to determine whether by Article 11 of the Constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the President-General can unilaterally suspend/remove the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, whether by virtue of Article 14 of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the President General or any other executive can convene meetings of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, whether by virtue of Article 21 of the Constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Secretary General can be removed without a motion supported by two-thirds majority of members present; whether by virtue of Article 21 of the Constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo any other person other than a candidate nominated from the state the secretary general can replace him or whether by the combined effects of Articles 11, 14, and 21 of the Constitution of Ohanaeze, the PG without the secretary general of Ohanaeze can validly summon meeting including the meeting for the sole purpose of conducting election into national executive offices of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The plaintiffs also want the court to determine whether the purported election of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo held on 10th of January 2021 having not followed the constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo is valid.
In their statement of claims, the plaintiffs want the court to declare that the meeting that was unilaterally summoned and held by the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the Nike lake, Enugu State, on December 20 2020, is null and void, a declaration that the suspension/removal of Chief Uche Okwuwku as the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the Ime Obi meeting on the 20th of December, 2020 is null and void and of no effect and a declaration that the decision taken by the defendant and some members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the Ime Obi meeting is null and void and having not been summoned by the Secretary General in accordance with the provisions of Article 11 of the constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The plaintiffs also want the court to declare that the electoral committee set up by the first defendant headed by Chief Gary Igariwey is unconstitutional, null and void, a declaration that the purported Ohanaeze election held in Owerri on January 10, 2021, is illegal, null and void and of no effect, the defendants having breached the constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which is the foundation to conducting election of national officers of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Okwukwu also wants the court to maintain the status quo pending when a proper election is conducted into national offices of Ohanaeze, set aside the decision of selected members of the 20th December Ime Obi meeting and restrain the members from further summoning any meeting whatsoever of Ohanaeze Ndigbo without consultation with the secretary General as the constitution demands.
They also want the court to restrain Obiozor from parading himself as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, being a product of illegal election and to pay them as damages (the plaintiffs) the sum of N30 million.
Indications that all may not be well with the election of Ohanaeze emanated early in the planning stages of the execise.
Two parallel factions had emerged claiming legitimacy to hold the election. One was led by Ozuobu and the other by Igariwey. The Ozuobu electoral committee conducted its own election 24 hours earlier than that of Igariwey and elected Chief Chidi Ibe as the PG. the exercise in Owerri produced Obiozor, whose endorsement as a consensus candidate irked other contestants, leading to their withdrawal from the exercise.
Another contentious issue was the mode of election. Whereas majority of the members preferred secret balloting, the Igariwey committee opted for Option A4. Some of the delegates who had already arrived for the election had to retire to their hotels, vowing not to participate in what they described as a “Charade.”
A member of the organization in Rivers State, Chief Omenazu Jackson, told newsmen that he will challenge the outcome the election in court, stressing that his main reason for attending the Owerri election was to get an alibi and a ground for the anticipated legal battle.