Local Civilian Coup in Anambra State


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Inside Story of the  "Local Civilian Coup" in Anambra State

Mobolaji E. Aluko




Monday, July 14, 2003



Every time one thinks that no new thing can occur under the Sun in Nigerian politics, something else happens.


Wonderful!  Very wonderful! Read another simply fascinating script below about the Anambra saga!   


Arthur Eze (for Emordi under Abacha)....Emeka Offor (for Mbadinuju under Obasanjo).... Chris Uba (for Ngige under in-law Obasanjo)...all Anambra godfathers (for governors or governors to be under an Abacha/Obasanjo regime)!


Na wa o!


But the question now is:  who will bell the cat?


Section 308 of our sham 1999 Constitution protects Deputy-Governor Udeh (and 73 other Nigerian Untouchables) from criminal and civil prosecution, if not investigation - unless he is impeached like Omisore was!


But who will impeach him, except a State Assembly whose Madame Speaker and virtually all Assembly members are complicit in this unique civilian coup?


Who will even arrest them, except a police AIG Raphael Ige who is himself complicit?  [Well, this one is easy: brother Tafa can send another "aburo" to do the dastardly deed! But it appears that Raphael omo Ige is beginning to say that he "arrested" Ngige for his own protective good?  "Ogbon lo gba" - all it takes is street-smartness!]


And who will be the judge of this case, except State Chief Judge Okoli Ejidiofor who seemed to be complicit, with his unusual hurry to swear in a new governor in the person of Udeh?


Anambra State may be stuck!


Before now, I had been shaking my head and scratching it too and wondering:  how did all of these people think that they could get away with this apparently hare-brained scheme, without KILLING Ngige ahead of time?   What impunity!  I was wondering:  If in fact the governor comes out and says that he did not write a letter of resignation - and if they had not assassinated him and probably pinned it on APGA or some "Unknown Murderer" - how did they expect to get away with it?


But now I know better.....the pre-written letter of resignation, signed WILLINGLY by the governor BEFORE he became governor!   Yes, technically, he did not write the letter AS GOVERNOR, but a contract is a contract, especially when one party has ALREADY fulfilled his own part of it by financing your campaign.


Now if in fact Ngige had pre-written a letter of resignation to his godfather Christ Uba, then he would be following the strange example of President Obasanjo who did the same to all of his ministers (except reportedly for Bola Ige and Adamu Ciroma) in his first term 1999-2003, and who probably is doing the same for the present crop of ministers, although we have not heard of that this time around.  Granted that those ministers were not elected - but in my mind so was Ngige not really "elected", certainly not from the last "(s)elections" on 4-19!


So what is good for the goose is good for the gander.


Once again,  unfortunately like the Omisore case, the imprints of Aso Rock are written ALL over this saga - if not directly, but very indirectly, via strongman Chris Uba/presidential adviserAndy Uba/in-law Obasanjo and the pre-written resignation letter with a precedence, not to talk of Ngige being saved by a strange cellphone call to VP Atiku Abubakar from an Awka "latrine."


If  in fact it can be proved POSITIVELY that Ngige signed that letter of resignation ahead of time, that his true signature is on it - and I am instinctively positive that he did, with all that I have been reading about this puppet of a guy gone strong lately - then he remains RESIGNED and he should go.  That is the honorable thing to do.  His life was not at stake at that point, but he was going to derive SUBSTANTIAL financial benefit from the move, with promises that amounted to graft.  That move really technically DISQUALIFIED him from being a candidate in the first instance.


So Anambra State is probably stuck with Deputy-Governor Udeh as governor!


In fact, if Chris Uba and  the Speaker and the Assembly  and the State CJ are not to face treason trials, they had better stick with this totally conceivable story of pre-written resignation - if the signature and circumstances of a pre-written signature can be proved by them - otherwise  they are stuck with trouble BIG TIME - and long jail sentences, if not death!


At the worst, every last one of them should somehow be kicked out of there - from Ngige down to the last woman - all the political maggots in Anambra's political latrine.


Stay tuned.



Bolaji Aluko


Inside story of the coup in Anambra State




Sunday, July 13, 2003


TO understand what is happening in Anambra State, it is best to adopt the famous quip about Nigeria by Sully Abu, a distinguished political writer who noted: "Nigeria is like being on a plane that has just been taken over by hijackers." In the context of Anambra politics, it can be inferred that a hijack operation is in progress.

For the second time since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Anambra State is in throes of major political crisis. But on the scale of audacity and brazenness that offends basic decency, the latest bust-up has provoked unparallel outrage across the country. Nevertheless, the common view is unanimous about one thing— this fight was expected, but the question was when.


The godfathers’ script...

Just like in 1999, barely a month after the swearing-in of the new administration, fight broke out between Sir Emeka Offor and the then Anambra State Governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, over patronage. As the story went, Offor, as godfather had used his political connection and resources to install Mbadinuju, who it must be said, ran a close and pulsating race against Prof. ABC Nwosu, who lost due to the support the governor had from powerful backers like Offor. Having firmly settled in office as governor, Mbadinuju, was reluctant to accede to the demands of Offor, which he considered steep. Angry at the effrontery of the governor to show signs of independence, Offor mobilised the deputy governor and majority of the members of the state Assembly, many of whom he sponsored into office and were therefore loyal to him to begin impeachment proceedings. The deputy governor, Prince Chinedu Emeka, was being positioned to assume office as governor in the event of the successful removal from office of Mbadinuju. In fact, there were stories that Mbadinuju and Emeka had such heated argument and at one time came short of exchanging blows. Meanwhile, Offor, had moved members of the legislature to nearby Enugu State where they were quarantined in a secret location to prevent any defection to the governor’s side.


It was from this location that the ‘renege’ members of the House attended sittings in Awka, and from where they initiated the impeachment proceedings against the governor, which never sailed through before outside intervention brokered amity. But the reconciliation was superficial as over the course of time, the truce broke down creating more opportunities for more exchange of fire between the two. Governance of the state suffered. By the end of Mbadinuju’s tenure in April, Anambra was in stasis. It was the only state that had the embarrassing record of shutting down public schools for over a year; salaries of public servants were not paid for nearly 10 months; pensioners were owed; public service virtually collapsed. Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of the state was overtaken by filth.


For the most part the fight was on Mbadinuju. He claimed that Offor was fighting him for no just cause because he had met all the terms of agreement, which included allowing him (Offor) to nominate commissioners of works, finance and some other senior aides in government. He also said that he had given Offor enough contract to defray his electoral expenses. But Offor was to cast his disagreement on the loft agenda of bringing good governance to the state, which he said was not possible under Mbadinuju, because according to him, the governor was too corrupt. To show he had no intention to continue to associate with the state government, Offor, withdrew his nominees from serving in Mbadinuju’s government and floated a political pressure group, Anambra People’s Forum(APF). The group for the most time had the singular duty of causing the governor nightmares.


Arthur syndrome ...

How did the state come to this sorry pass is the question many Nigerians have been asking. The fact is that the godfatherism in Anambra had its roots in the military under Abacha, when a business mogul Chief Arthur Eze was the dominant political factor in the state. It must be understood that the first civilian governor of Anambra, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife had no such problems. He merely contended with the challenges of governing the state and his own place in history.


But as soon as Abacha took over, Chief Eze became the satrap of the Abacha junta in the state and it is said he influenced who was posted as military administrator to the state, and could cause the posting out of such officer if he found reason to suspect lack of co-operation. And Chief Eze’s payoff was getting juicy contracts, many of which are said to have been left uncompleted for one reason or the other. As it were, Chief Eze’s influence did not end there. Flushed by trappings of easy money and power, Chief Eze, it must be recalled, moved around in long convoy of cars of mobile police men. He also had a complement of civilian hirelings that he attached to his convoy, one of whom was Chief Chris Uba, who was said to be head of Chief Eze’s ‘Brown shirt’ storm troopers.


Uba’s duties as Chief Eze’s factotum was to take care of menial tasks and handle some other assignments. If Chief Eze needed to shake down a fellow, or to squelche an understanding, Uba was the right man and he carried out his duties admirably. Always by his mentor's side, his influence over Chief Eze was such that during Abacha’s civilian transition programme, Chief (Mrs.) Joy Emordi, was adopted as governorship candidate on the platform of UNCP, Uba got his elder brother Chief Ugochukwu Uba to be the running mate to Emordi. If Abacha had not died and his transition programme not aborted, it was a cinch Emordi/ Uba ticket would have won the gubernatorial race. With what is happening now, it seems clear that Uba learnt his lessons well, the only difference being that Chief Eze was more generous and was known to be expansive in his support without placing undue demands on his candidates.


Accident waiting to happen

Sunday Vanguard learnt that during the hey days of the standoff between Offor and Mbadinuju, Uba was known to snicker that Offor was acting like bumbling illiterate in the way he sought to remove the governor from office. He was said to have boasted that if he were to move against the governor, he would adopt a different tactics that would be more effective. With Mbadinuju losing popular support and the PDP divided over how to resolve the face-off, Uba began flexing his muscle. The first thing he did, Sunday Vanguard, learnt, was to break with Offor, on whose side he was all along, and teamed up with the governor assuring him that he would use his contact with the presidency to secure him relief from the Offor assault. His payoff contracts, was one of the uncompleted governor’s lodge. Meanwhile, Uba had remarkable entree to the presidency on account of the appointment of his elder brother, Dr Andy Uba as the Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Matters. This access to the president was used to maximum effect in the state, where people were easily beguiled into doing things by dropping the president’s name. Sunday Vanguard learnt that it was easy to pull this stunt because Andy Uba is married to Mrs Stella Obasanjo’s sister, who is a special assistant in the first lady’s office. Indeed, there are indications that for some not particularly known reasons, Andy Uba, appears to exercise far more influence within the presidency than his sinecure position entitles him to. In such a situation, it was a desperate Mbadinuju looking for ways to ingratiate himself with the president and procure succour from Offor, latched on to Chris Uba, who shortly, it turned out, had other plans up his sleeves.


With elections around the corner and the party set to nominate candidates for various offices, the PDP divided as ever following the contending interest found it virtually impossible to make progress. Again, the state set the record in the number of congresses held to elect candidates for various offices. The party congress to select the governorship candidate was conducted three times and the National Assembly candidates’ primary was conducted four times.


Ali Baba and the 40 thieves...

Each time candidates emerged, intrigue and disagreement frustrated the acceptance by the national leadership from accepting the outcome. One reason or the other was adduced for the reversal of a freely held state congress. And the ghost at the centre of the confusion at the party secretariate was Chris Uba, using to the hilt, his contact in the presidency. For instance, on the two occasions congress was held to select the governorship candidate, Mbadinuju emerged victorious. This was so because despite his troubles, Mbadinuju had firm control of the party structure in the state, yet the national leadership refused to accept his victory and overturned it. But with election time only weeks and allegedly no end in sight to impasse, a new congress was slated under chairmanship of Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu. Sunday Vanguard learnt that the coup d’ grace pulled off by Uba was, with the collusion of the party leadership, in Abuja. It was said that in this last congress, the party came up with the novel idea that cards be issued to delegates and this task was entrusted to Mantu, who was to supervise this election. Mantu, Sunday Vanguard gathered left Abuja for the southeast, but rather than head straight to Awka venue of the election, he did a detour to Enugu and allegedly spent the night at Uba’s residence where the delegates’ tags were given out to the handpicked supporters of Uba. The following day, Uba stormed the venue of the congress with armed mobile police men and his handpicked delegates wearing a specially designed cap with Obasanjo’s face on it, which distinguished Uba supporters from the others.


Because tension in the state had built up following the repeated deadlock over the election, the police ostensibly deployed about four hundred of their men to maintain peace, and were given instructions not to allow anyone without the delegate tag or wearing the special Obasanjo’s cap to enter the hall. In order not to leave anything to chance, Uba in selecting delegates for the congress sidelined statutory delegates like ward chairmen and local government chairmen of the party, who ordinarily should have voted. It is perhaps the first time such cadre of party officials did not participate in the selection of the flag bearer of the party, due to rigging. Thus, it was under such a setting that Chris Ngige emerged the party candidate barely three weeks to the general election.


The confusion did not end there. The National Assembly congress proved thorny as well. Four times it was held , but on each occasion, controversy and disagreements truncated the adoption of the candidates that emerged. Eventually with time for election already upon the party, names of candidates that won were finally allowed to stand. Thus, people like Ben Obi, Joy Emordi, Nicholas Ukachukwu who won the party ticket found shortly after the senatorial election that they were not the candidates INEC accepted due to what was said to be the court order that overturned their victory for Ugochukwu Uba, Chris Uba’s brother who replaced Ukachukwu, Ikechukwu Abana for Emordi and Anosike for Obi. The same court order also affected the six members of the House of Representatives, whose seats were taken away from them and given to another set of people who were not ordinally on the ballot. All these cases are before the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka.


The making of a coup

If today, Chief Uba in press interviews boast about installing all the political public office holders, there is a good reason for that beyond his installing Ngige and the national legislators. Sunday Vanguard, learnt that he also took care of the situation at the state legislature. It was gathered that three days before the State House of Assembly election on May 3, names of candidates cleared by the party were substituted with names of another set of people who were never cleared to seek office. The fallout of this switch of names is the confusion over the proper constituencies of some state legislators, as some of them were put in constituencies different from where they originally belong.


With the entire political system completely sewn up, Uba, felt he was in complete control of the political dynamics of his state. But he did not know that his protegee would show some spunk, although, he has begun to suspect one week before the general election that things might not be as smooth. Sunday Vanguard learnt that sensing he might have miscalculated, Uba approached Ngige and asked him to step down for Abana, but Ngige managed to persuade him that he would be loyal. Two days later, Uba summoned another meeting where he attempted to persuade Ngige to step down for his deputy Dr Okey Ude, but was also prevailed upon to abandon this tack, especially with deadline for any such changes long over. However, sources very familiar with the Ngige/ Uba political machine informed Sunday Vanguard that one of the reasons Uba did not really push aggressively to have Ngige removed from the ticket was because he had already secured a signed resignation letter from Ngige in the event that he found his conduct ‘unsatisfactory’.


If Uba thought Ngige was a pushover, he was to confirm his worst fears three weeks ago in Enugu, Sunday Vanguard learnt. But before this fiasco, Uba had never disguised his true intention immediately inauguration ceremony was over. He swiftly moved to make as much appointments without even courtesy of consulting the governor. Uba also got his nominees elected Speaker and other principal officers of the state legislature. By Ngige’s admission, Uba appointed the secretary to his government and the principal secretary without informing him. Ngige’s attempt to show some independence with the appointment of a chief of staff was resisted by Uba. Conversely, Uba’s attempt to appoint all the commissioners and special advisers to the governor was resisted by Ngige. A stalemate resulted from this face-off.


Sunday Vanguard was told that three weeks ago in Enugu, Ngige was summoned by Uba and told to make certain sums available to him on a monthly basis. Ngige was said to have informed him that it was not possible. For his temerity to turn down this request, Sunday Vanguard learnt that Hon Chuma Nzeribe, Uba’s sidekick allegedly pounced on the governor and gave him some slaps and tore his shirt in a scuffle that ensued. By Wednesday, Uba was said to have gotten tired of the ‘intransigence’ of the governor and decided to move against him.


He summoned the members of the state legislature and gave the letter signed by Ngige that he was resigning and asked them to accept it, and that the deputy governor was to replace him. The following day being Thursday, the coup against Nigige was executed. As a sting operation, it was a successful operation with AIG Raphael Ige storming government house, disarming the governors security details and abducting him from his office. If as claimed that the governor resigned, how could he have been in his office treating files and attending to visitors remains the questions that have not been fully explained. The other thing is the role of the police, the deputy governor, and the state legislature. How all of these will impact on the politics of the state is easily predicable, another four years of crisis seem certain.


Will the deputy governor retain the power he said has been entrusted upon him by the circumstances of Ngige’s resignation?


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