A news story published in several newspapers on Thursday, May 26, 2011, claimed that Senator Alphonsus Igbeke (Anambra North) had been dragged to court for alleged forgery and false representation.
Senator Igbeke is not happy that none of the newspapers that published the embarrassing story cared to speak with him before going to press. He spoke with ANIEBO NWAMU and STANLEY NKWOCHA on Friday on the purported case of forgery against him. Excerpts:
WE have read this story of alleged forgery and perjury against you. Can we get your side of the story?
First of all, let me assure Nigerians that my integrity is intact. The first thing to look at is who Senator Alphonsus Igbeke is. Has he ever been involved in any criminal act? Has the police ever invited him for any criminal case from my childhood to what I am today?
Senator Alphonsus Igbeke...collected certificate of return
And now what makes one think I can be so desperate to go into forgery and perjury, not only at this level but at this age? The police have their records where they can crosscheck the name Alphonsus Uba Igbeke; that’s my full name.
All my life I have never been involved in any criminal activity or court case except tribunals or Court of Appeal on strictly matters related to politics, especially when I’m being shortchanged. The point I’m trying to make is that my hands are clean and I do not know anything about this forgery of a thing. And I can assure you that, at the end of the day, Nigerians will know the truth. I strongly believe that what is happening today is happening for a purpose.
Self acclaimed godfather
I have been quiet about it because I thought that the person behind this and that is the self-acclaimed godfather of Anambra politics, who has sworn that he will never live to see me sworn in, having been re-elected. But I must let Nigerians know that this struggle did not start today.
This self-acclaimed godfather did it in 2003 when I contested for the House of Reps, when I won my primaries, he went to the extent of using the then national secretary of the party, after my name had been pencilled down and documented as the nominated candidate and duly signed by both the then National Chairman and Secretary of the party.
He went ahead and used the then national secretary, Vincent Ogbulafor, to remove my name. This same godfather went to Vincent Ogbulafor who used a stroke of the pen to cancel my name and used the same pen to write in place of my name the name of Hon. Raphael Okeke as the party’s candidate. Meanwhile, the Electoral Act stipulates that both the chairman and the secretary must sign. I had to challenge the action as I weighed into the stipulations of the existent Electoral Act.
In 2007, the same thing happened. The same denial happened and I had to go to court to challenge it. This time around, the same godfather came and told me, ‘’Look , you don’t have a seat in the National Assembly again.” I subtly told him that it was not for him to decide my fate but my people. And we fought, starting from the primaries to the election. When they changed the results of the primaries, I went to court for interpretation of Section 87 of the Electoral Act.
Each time they say I normally take my mandate from the courts. Why won’t I? The courts are the last resort, since I do not shed blood. Or should I start killing people? I am not a murderer. Perhaps they think that the tribunals and courts that are created by the Electoral Act and the Constitution are merely created for fun? The only civil way of challenging such injustice is through the court.
Is this not the best way? Or should I get myself involved in burning people’s houses and maiming lives. I am too civilized for such acts, hence the approach I always adopt.
Now, concerning the 2011 elections: After the primaries, the same thing happened – the same denial – and I proceeded to court, and the court, on March17, declared me the rightful candidate of the party. Besides, we had two parallel primaries in the state under the platform of the PDP – the ones conducted by the state EXCO and the other conducted by the national body.
Participation in primaries
But the INEC prefers the group from the state, for whatever reason I don’t know. What I did was to participate in both primaries conducted by the one from the state EXCO and the other from the national body. And I won both. It was based on both that the Federal High Court declared me the winner of the primaries. Today , they are talking about forgery from the side of the state Exco which is under the control of the self acclaimed godfather.
How about the one conducted by the National body and chaired by Senator Waku where I also won. Did they alledge forgery? You can see the obvious handiwork of despots.
The question is: in which of these primaries has the PDP come up to say its document was forged? And I want to tell Nigerians today that, if at the end of this case I am found to have forged any document, they should withdraw the sympathy they have for me and let the law take its cause.
It is their usual political gimmicks. They did so to Governors, Mbanuju, Ngige and several others. I have never been involved in forgery all my life and will never. These people have been the one that have been into forgery, but this time, they will not succeed. I will prove it despite police intimidation.
Now what triggered that “forgery” allegation was that I collected my certificate of return. Of course, you do know that if you are not a candidate for an election, you cannot be talking about winning an election because, in the first place, you are not eligible to contest an election, unless you are a candidate. As at March 17, several weeks before the election, the court had declared me as the authentic candidate for that senatorial district, the decision of which they admitted by going to the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment.
Going to challenge that verdict in court is an admission that you are not a candidate. And after every election, the issue for determination would be, who was the candidate as at the time of the election?
Section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 was amended to correct the past precedents whereby someone who did not participate in an election would be issued with a certificate of return and that person would be there for several years. My opponent is asking for certificate, never, that is unlawful as he was never a candidate in that election.
The highest thing he can get, assuming he has a case, is for nullification of the election and not for him to be issued a certificate of return, because of the provisions of the Electoral Act. But because they are ignorant, they are busy saying they are waiting for Prof. Jega to come and issue him with certificate, whereas, as it is now, the INEC does not have the powers to withdraw the certificate. Only the court of law can.
The police they are trying to use cannot even do that. If you have a case, you go to court and matters are in court already.
The allegation of forgery evolved at the instance of INEC issuing me with a certificate of return. Since then, they have deployed one nefarious programme or the other in a bid to stop me from being inaugurated. And I can tell you that till today, I have never received any invitation from the police, either by text or phone call.
It was last week Tuesday or so that after they got the warrant of arrest from a magistrate court, despite the subsisting order of a Federal High Court against the police. They got it on Friday and, on Tuesday, the chief of staff to the Senate president, Hon. Ogar, called me while I was in the South-East… as people kept calling me that the police were looking for me. I could not understand as there was an order restraining them from doing so.
Meanwhile, the police had already gone to get the warrant of arrest even without invitation – no call, no text – and they sent it after they had gotten the warrant of arrest. Apparently, they might have been looking for me and wanted to confiscate me so that I would not participate in the inauguration as they planned.
That is their game plan, otherwise, Police will not be rushing it, to the extent of disobeying the order of the Federal High Court. They refused to discharge the subsisting order before any action in line with the law.
This same people accusing me of forgery today, when judgement was delivered on March 17, proceeded to sponsor very contradicting reports in the National dailies like ‘Igbeke forges court judgment’, ‘Igbeke in trouble over court judgement’, ‘Igbeke in this and that’. Sadly they made the headlines of newspapers’ front pages.
The media gave it all the prominence without even calling me initially to have my reaction. I mean, how could any reputable media have gone to press with such damning reports without confirming from the other party?
It was the height of unethical journalism, though I will never forget their unalloyed support during my struggle to the Senate 2010.
Afterwards, they called me and said they wanted me to react. I told them in very unambiguous terms that (perhaps) ‘the judge that delivered the verdict is dead, the clerk and other staff of the court are dead and the court closed down and turned to a supermarket’. I mean a case of forging court judgment: is it what should be discussed on the pages of newspapers? What else could I have told them?
After much pressure I told them that it is High Court 2, Abuja; they should go and find out the details themselves. Do you know what it means for someone to forge a court judgement? Something that never happened? It was just the height of despicable desperation.
Even at that, to underscore their mischief, do you know they were at the court when the judgement was delivered? But they did it to blackmail me. But if I forged a court judgment, then, I presume that there must be an original one that I forged. The question is where is the original one then, since they alleged that I forged the other one? Since then, Nigerians have not heard anything about it again, apparently, they did not get the cooperation of the judge or the staff to buy them over as usual.
Now it was when they alleged that I forged a court judgment that I now heard that they had already planned with the police to arrest me under the pretext of forgery that they would arrest me and hide me so that I could not campaign since I had now been declared the candidate for Anambra North senatorial district.
So I quickly went to court to seek the enforcement of my fundamental human right against the inspector-general of police, and this was as far back as March. But they told Nigerians and the whole world that I got an order to restrain the police from arresting and investigating me.
Maybe just to soothe themselves. But what I did was to go to the National Library and got a certified true copy of the publication and attached it to my affidavit, and the court had to protect me because it was obvious that they were desperate in their act.
When I now got my certificate [of return], they jumped to the very mundane plan. It is possible that the IGP may not even know of the games being played by his subordinates. In their desperation to get me, despite a subsisting court order of Federal High Court they now went to a magistrate court to circumvent the federal High Court order. Meanwhile, they had been coming to the Federal High Court, filing all manner of affidavits and counter-affidavits.
You mentioned policemen targeting you. Do you know them?
I don’t know their names since I have never known them and they have never called me. They are just busy hunting for me. All they are after is my certificate of return. By the side, some people would call you [to say]that there is a way of solving this, and that is if we reach a truce such that they would pay me off and I would then release my certificate of return. That is stupidity, but it tells you the mindset of these people.
Now on the issue of forged certificate of return: When they alleged that, people started calling me. I said if the certificate I have was forged , then, the onus lies on them to produce the original one. INEC has not said that I have a forged certificate, but it was just desperation on their side. When we set aside the warrant of arrest, they went back to the police and, under three days, they went to the Attorney General of the Federation and the next thing was: ‘ Federal Government charges Senator Igbeke for forgery’. Others read: ‘’ Attorney-general charges Senator Igbeke to court’ etc, up till now I have not been served a summon’. It was on all the media and networks. Blackmail! This is their stock in trade. You all read where they said I forged INEC document, meanwhile, the same INEC issued me with certificate of return. Why didn’t INEC hold my certificate pending further clarifications. It is stage managed, using few people they were able to bought over. Now, it is Police that they want to use to stop me.
I am sure the AGF does not know the facts of this case, otherwise he would not have gotten himself involved in it. Assuming, there was forgery committed in this case at the state level, I think the AGF ought to be heavily involved with federal issues as such the matter would be redirected to the state AG where this offence was allegedly committed. That is, assuming if there was an offence. I move around everywhere and people see me and say: is this not the Igbeke they are looking for? I move around and feel free. I have refused to be intimidated to trade off my mandate.
So what is the next line of action now?
I want to say emphatically that I cannot be intimidated. I believe they have gotten to the last bus-stop and the question is after this, what next? For me, I can never be intimidated with this their blackmail; all their cooked-up allegations will never bother me a bit. This is the handiwork of a well-known group who are well-known for nothing but blackmail of different sorts – a group that has sworn that the people of Anambra will continue to be under their enclave, but collectively we shall reject it.
Through these individuals, Justices Nnaji, Wilson Egbo-Egbo; Justice Okpene of the Court of Appeal and Justice Adeniji and a host of others lost their jobs in the judiciary i.e through their dealings with this cabal. This cabal see Anambra as nothing but a personal business concern and property so much so that they determine who goes and who does not go. The late AIG Raphael Ige, who they used in abducting Chris Ngige when he was governor, was sacked by the police authority and later lost his life out of frustration and several others I could not remember their names now. This cabal burnt the Government House Awka, the Ikenga Hotels, and wasted lives and properties worth billions of naira. A panel was set up and a white paper produced only for it to be stepped on. This same cabal was involved in a serious case of forgery in this country but, with time, this will be revealed. This self-acclaimed godfather is responsible, again, for the crisis emanating now. May I then warn the policemen and judges joining him in this adventure to beware as they may fall like others.
Who is this self-acclaimed godfather?
Everybody knows him. He is a notorious name, every thing negative, in Anambra State politics.
At what point did your relationship go sour?
It has always been like this, since 2003. And Nigerians should know that Igbeke started politics as far back as 1997. In 1999, I contested the primaries against the late Dr Chuba Okadigbo. (May his soul rest in peace). Twice that primaries was conducted and twice I defeated him and I didn’t forge any documents. Solomon Lar, the then party chairman, and Okwesilieze Nwodo, the then party secretary, can attest to this. The party pleaded with me to step down when I defeated him twice and this was due to my popularity. I had a factory in Ogbunike, Okadigbo’s village, and his village voted for me. Senator Isaiah Balat was the panel’s chairman and after its plea I was persuaded to step down and, finally, I agreed as a party loyalist.
Based on that, Senator Anosike to whom the House of Reps ticket had already been given, challenged my nomination and now, unanimously, the tribunal declared me winner. It was at the Court of Appeal that it was upturned, not based on the merit but because the judge was… let me forget that.
In 2003 and 2007 I contested and won. These people were there when I introduced a scholarship scheme in Anambra East local government area. Everybody is a beneficiary the moment their names are enlisted/ irrespective of who you are or where you come from, including the Normadic schools. They know I am not going there for my selfish and personal benefit. I am not the one that created that popularity; but the Almighty God whom I serve.
From your projection, the attorney-general is progressing in error. Have you reached out to him?
We shall follow the due process of the law to make him see reason. But if his final decision is to proceed, then we shall meet him in the court. Nigerians will be surprise at the out-come. That I assure you.
Finally, why should this ‘ political cabal’ be afraid of having you in the National Assembly?
It is not only me. The crisis that has existed in Anambra State, politically, has been created by this cabal. But this time around, I trust that Anambrarians will wake up and say no and stand by it – and that is exactly what I’m doing. The only thing I want Nigerians to do for me is pray against abductors and assassins. For me, this case is laughable. They won’t get away with their gimmick this time around. God will bring anybody that is against Anambra State/Nigeria to book.
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