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The Petitioners, Labour Party and her candidate for the House of Assembly election for Nkanu West State Constituency in the 2023 general elections in Enugu State, Hon. Johnpaul Anih, opened their case on Saturday, July 8, 2023 at the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Enugu and called witnesses to challenge the victory and qualification of the PDP House of Assembly candidate, Mr. Iloabuchi Desmond Aniagu.

The three-man panel of the Tribunal heard testimonies from the 1st Petitioner, the Labour Party candidate at the election, Hon. Johnpaul Anih and the Subpoenaed witness, who is a member staff of the 3rd Respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as well as the Petitioner.

During his evidence, the 1st Petitioner, Hon. Johnpaul Anih, tendered a letter dated 27th April, 2023, which was addressed to his counsel, Mr. Chimezie Ogenna Nwodo, by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in response to an enquiry made through his counsel’s letter dated 11th April 2023. In the letter of 27th April, 2023, WAEC unequivocally stated that “the Council’s records show that Candidate Aniagu Desmond Friday sat the May/June 1996 examination….”, buttressing the allegation of the Petitioners that the 1st Respondent, Mr. Iloabuchi Desmond Aniagu of the Peoples Democratic Party DID NOT sit for the WAEC examination held in 1996.

The electoral umpire was subpoenaed to provide the Certified True Copy of Form EC9 with the accompanying documents of Mr. Iloabuchi Desmond Aniagu (the 1st Respondent) which he submitted to INEC prior to the 2023 general elections. The document was tendered in evidence through Mrs. Nifemi Adewole of the Legal Drafting and Clearance Department of INEC.

Aside the WAEC certificate scandal, it is obvious from another document accompanying the Form EC9 of Mr. Iloabuchi Desmond Aniagu, that he presented a forged First School Leaving Testimonial purportedly issued to him by the ‘Nkanu West Local government Education Authority of Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State’ in 1990 to INEC.

As a matter of fact, all certificates submitted by the 1st Respondent, Mr. Iloabuchi Desmond Aniagu, to INEC prior to the election, cast lingering doubt on his qualification to contest the election.

During his cross-examination, the Petitioners, through their first witness, Johnpaul Anih further provided overwhelming evidence to confirm that the Primary and Secondary School Certificates which Mr. Iloabuchi Desmond Aniagu submitted to INEC via his form EC9, were forged or fake.

Responding to questions from journalists shortly after the court sitting, counsel for the Petitioners, Chimezie Ogenna Nwodo Esq, expressed confidence that the case is such that the Tribunal should wield the big stick and hold that the 1st Respondent was constitutionally unqualified to contest in the election in the spirit of the letters of Section 107(1)(i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), having presented forged or fake certificates to INEC.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday, 12th July 2023 for continuation of the trial.

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