Breaking: Chimaroke in secret meeting with Edeoga, duo plot against Chukwu, Mbah

…as battle shifts to election tribunals

By Andrew Ochei

A leaked picture of a secret visit over the Easter weekend by the embattled governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu State, Mr Chijioke Edeoga, to his well-known political foe and traducer, the former governor of the state, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani has sent shock waves round political circles in the state.

The outcome of the March 18 governorship and senatorial elections in the state and in Enugu East senatorial zone, respectively, in which both Edeoga and Nnamani lost, had left the duo bitterly aggrieved, vengeful and pointing accusing fingers at perceived sources of treachery and betrayal which they are blaming for their losses.

Sources close to the duo said while Nnamani took to the micro-blogging platform Twitter to vent his rage against Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu State governor-elect, Mr Peter Mbah and other PDP chieftains for allegedly colluding with the Enugu Labour Party to rig him out, Edeoga was more diplomatic and taciturn in public, instead expressing his misgivings and disappointments privately to trusted aides and associates. Edeoga, it was reliably gathered, alleged betrayal against him by the former Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji, the senator-elect for Enugu East zone, Mr. Kelvin Chukwu, his elder brother Barr. Lucky Chukwu, and the leaders of Nkanu Odenigbo, one of the two sectional divides in the zone, for sacrificing him in a tradeoff with the PDP to secure victory for Chukwu and their “family” (Nkanu Odenigbo) at all costs.

The state has come under turbulent political waters as accusations and counter-accusations are flying around within the strained political atmosphere. Insiders believe that it was only a matter of days before Nnamani and Edeoga, united by grief, perceived betrayal by trusted political allies and associates, and hell-bent on recovering their “stolen mandates”, began to see the need to work together, in a realignment of political forces that took political watchers and pundits in the state totally unawares.

The stage is already set for a political showdown in weeks and months ahead. Political bigwigs in the state are realigning their political interests to oust some elected officials, as the battle shifts to the election petitions tribunals and other courts.

Recall that Senator Nnamani, whose election was postponed from February 25 to March 18 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable the Labour Party shop for replacement of its slain candidate, Barr. Oyibo Chukwu by yet-to-be-identified gunmen, lost to the latter’s younger brother, Kelvin Chukwu at the polls.

Mr. Edeoga, an Eha-Amufu born politician in Isi Uzo local government area, is a journalist and former Commissioner for Local Government Affairs for four years, and Commissioner for Environment for three years under the incumbent governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, lost to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Mbah, a lawyer and oil and gas magnate from Owo in Nkanu East local government area of the state.

It was reliably gathered that some political gladiators who saw the bickering within the PDP as an opportunity to win over Senator Nnamani to the cause of the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate in the state brokered a truce between the two former antagonists who fell out with each other after Edeoga failed to secure a return ticket to the House of Representatives in 2003 while Nnamani held sway as governor.

Senior politicians in the state however confessed to our correspondents that they were not particularly surprised by the reconciliation between Nnamani and Edeoga. A former chairman of Isi Uzo local government area who pleaded for anonymity because of the dicey political atmosphere in the state explained to our reporter the intimacy between Nnamani and Edeoga, despite the belief by the general public that they are sworn political enemies.

“Barrister Chijioke Jonathan Edeoga is an old kingpin of the Ebeano political dynasty, formed by the former governor as the dominant group in the PDP. It was Nnamani that brokered the truce between Edeoga and Chief Osita Ogene, which enabled Ogene to emerge as the chairman of Isi Uzo in the December 1998 local government elections, while the House of Representatives slot for Enugu East and Isi Uzo federal constituency was ceded to Edeoga.

“They were close friends and allies. Though Edeoga distanced himself from Nnamani and Ebeano political family after he failed to secure their support ahead of the PDP governorship primary, Edeoga cannot deny being one of the leaders of the group. I urge you to read the statements made by former governor Sullivan Chime a few days to the governorship election, where he named himself, Chijioke Edeoga, Frank Nweke Jr of APGA and even Chief Uche Nnaji of APC as top members of Ebeano family right from 1999. Sullivan can be bold and honest.

“Things started falling apart among members of the Ebeano political family when Edeoga and a few others decided to pitch tent with Chief Okwy Nwodo, the then National Secretary of PDP, when his feud with Governor Nnamani escalated. Edeoga really had no choice than take sides with Nwodo. Remember he is married into the Nwodo family. His wife Nkechi is the daughter of Grace Obayi, the elder sister of the Nwodo brothers, and Edeoga at different times served as the personal assistant to Chief Joe Nwodo, Okwy’s elder brother, and later as Deputy Press Secretary to the then Governor Okwy Nwodo.

“Chief Okwesilize Nwodo, with Edeoga and other politicians in their camp later teamed up with Nnamani’s estranged godfather, the former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, to stop the re-election of Governor Nnamani in 2003 though they failed. So that was how Edeoga and Nnamani parted ways”, he explained.

However, following the recent attacks on Governor Ugwuanyi, Mbah, and other PDP leaders by Senator Nnamani on his verified Twitter handle where he openly accused them of rigging him out while aiding the victory of the Labour Party senator-elect in the zone and getting their support for Mbah in return, insiders said Edeoga saw reconciliation with Chimaroke as timely to fight their cause together and displace their former political party.

In the outbursts that caused ripples in Enugu political waters, Nnamani had on March 26, 2023 lashed out at Nkanu politicians.
“Nkanu Clan at it again! Nest of vipers! Brothers rigging for themselves and rigging brothers out.

“Peter MBA’s Betrayal is one more betrayal too many. I have difficulty processing it, I must confess.”

A reliable source close to Nnamani said the stunning tweets was received with tremendous joy in the Nsukka Labour Party circles and the Edeoga camp, and became an instant thaw in the enmity between him and Edeoga. Thus when the opportunistic Edeoga made peace overtures to Nnamani, he was received with open arms.

Since then, the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate and a couple of high profile delegation had visited the senator at his Agbani home on different occasions to agree on terms even though it was done in secret.

A source close to Edeoga disclosed that they were skeptical at first that the senator would agree to work with them because of his volatile temperament. When, however, the idea of realizing back his mandate was sold to him if he supports Labour Party governorship flagbearer to get favourable judgment, he bought into it wholeheartedly, vowing he would teach the “Nkanu conspirators lessons they would never forget”. The source said Edeoga was equally skeptical about Nnamani’s sincerity to sabotage an Nkanu-born governor-elect and made his doubts known to him. Senator Nnamani however told Edeoga that his quest for vendetta against Ugwuanyi, Mbah and his co-conspirators was irreversible, assuring him that in the following days and weeks, he would use his Twitter platform to tarnish and discredit the March 18 polls in the eyes of the public and the judges involved in the post-election litigations.

True to his threats, Nnamani on April 8, 2023 resumed his tirades on Twitter. He tweeted: “Imagine the Characters Gburus, Egbe Cornelius Nnaji, Ofo Chukwuegbo, illiterate Speaker, Block head Anayo Ede, mesmerized Uche Ejim and still clueless Peter Mba planning election rigging! But for Peter others are basically “Brainless”.

Going for broke, he specifically accused them of subtracting from his votes and delivering large votes for Labour Party senatorial candidate, while leaving the governorship results untouched in favour of their preferred candidate.

“Labour guys stood bye while they delivered the Urban Assembly and Senate to them. And in Brazen selfishness took the Governorship” (sic), he tweeted.

“Imagine Peter Mba winning Enugu East LGA and Chimaroke Nnamani loosing with over 13000 votes. Same accreditation of votes, same party, same election period. Ditto 2 members of the House of Assembly! Peter Mba winning Enugu North LGA, ebeano loosing with over 7000 votes.

“Same accreditation of votes, same party, same election. Only the foolish wicked Gburus, his sidekick and heartless minions will plan this evil”.

A prominent Nkanu PDP leader who did not want his name in print dismissed Nnamani’s allegations as mere conspiracy theories, saying the senator by himself damaged whatever remained of his and Ebeano brand when he launched relentless malicious attacks on Mr Peter Obi and his Obi-dient followers while irritating them the more by campaigning for the loathed APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu. “Ebeano was reckless and his loss was self-inflicted. He angered even his staunchest supporters and the killing of Oyibo Chukwu, whoever may have been responsible, worsened his case. His insinuations on same party, same election, same day and different results do not hold water. Hon. Nnoli Nnaji of PDP won his election on the same day the people rejected Atiku of PDP and voted massively for Peter Obi of Labour Party. Our people are wiser now and in these elections voted for candidates and not parties. It’s surprising that Senator Nnamani pretends otherwise”, he said.

The tweets however elicited wild celebrations in the Edeoga camp, resulting in several meetings that were held at the Agbani country home of the senator. A source who participated in the meetings but preferred not to have his name in print confirmed that it was time for their caucus to take their pound of flesh from Governor Ugwuanyi and the PDP whom he accused of betraying the old Nsukka Zone by giving the PDP gubernatorial ticket to an Nkanu man and making unfulfilled promises to many of them in the ruling party.

According to him, “The time to hit back at those who took away our mandate both in the PDP and during the election is now, and in politics, you don’t have permanent enemies. What’s permanent is your interest that is at stake. So, we have to work with Senator Chimaroke having reached a mutual ground.

“See, the senator needs his seat back more than the Nkanu people needed the position of governor. You know he worked for Bola Tinubu despite being in the opposition. The understanding was that he would be the next Senate President. But we even need the governor more than the greenhorn from their zone (Kelvin Chukwu). You’re aware Ugwuanyi didn’t do anything in Nsukka zone for his 8 years in government. That’s why we voted him out, and we rooted for Edeoga as compensation for Ugwuanyi’s failure in our zone”.

Our source further boasted that politics, like game, requires the two sides to make sacrifices and reach a common ground. “It is a matter of give and take. We have presented to him the opportunity of taking back his senatorial seat if he supports us to take back our governorship seat in the court”.

In order to reassure Edeoga that the deal brokered between the duo’s camps was a done deal, Chimaroke took to his tweeter handle on April 12, few days after Easter celebration, and tacitly apologized to him for the old wound and protracted misunderstanding between them.

“Folks! My APOLOGIES! Chijioke Edeoga sent him to House of Reps. Remember being in his village 5am late 10/1998 to broker. Frank Anioma was with me. Uncle were (sic) almost killed by local vigilante at Mgbuji bridge! ebeanoFAM,” the senator tweeted.

It was revealed that Mbah’s relationship with his erstwhile political ally, Nnamani, had gone sour when he got the endorsement of Senator Nwobodo and Mr. Sullivan Chime, a former governor and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) until his suspension from the party over anti-party activities by the Ugochukwu Agballah-led APC working committee.

Both Jim Nwobodo and Chime had a longstanding messy and unhealthy political relationships with Senator Nnamani over some political differences.

Nnamani, who was assured of getting back his senatorial seat if Labour Party won in court through his efforts, even though he had resigned from the PDP following is expulsion by the party’s National Working Committee over anti-party activities, had the understanding that his sole job would be to discredit the process that produced Mbah, and the Labour Party senator-elect from the zone by accusing them of rigging, electoral infractions and other acts capable of destroying their prospects in court.

This stint operation, it was gathered, was designed to interfere in the decision of the court through frequent and unguarded statements calling out Mbah and others as rigging him out and rigging in the Labour Party senator-elect.

Since the deal was brokered, Edeoga has been secretly visiting Nnamani to perfect their plot of ousting Mbah and the senator-elect through the extra-judicial utterances that would create a negative public perception and negate justice.

With the promise of engaging in media trial by issuing statements capable of jeopardizing Mbah’s case at the tribunal, Nnamani may likely have his seat restored if the plot, as perfected by the parties, works.

A source close to Edeoga expressed confidence that they would triumph in the end. “We know Mbah and the PDP are digging for information and possibly have moles in our camp but that cannot stop us. As you can see, Edeoga is a veteran journalist, media strategist and expert in propaganda. So any revelation against us will be denied instantly. We don’t waste time in debunking unfavourbale stories about us whether fake or real, and turning them against our opponents”, he boasted.

Edeoga, who has already approached the court challenging the victory of the PDP, said he would be declared winner by the court, boasting that his people were already reaching out to the judges using their influence.

Calls made to the leadership of the PDP campaign council to react to the attacks on it and its candidates remained unpicked, even Government House Enugu media aides had refused to comment on the outburst against the governor by the senator.

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