Umeh: Dozie Nwankwo biting finger that fed him- Stakeholders


By Cyril Ikpeazu

One LP candidate who could have won on his own in the senatorial vote in Anambra State is Chief Victor Umeh, a former APGA national chairman and a former senator, too, whose record of accomplishments is self-evident.

In the recent election, he garnered 103,608 votes in the election. His closest rival, Dozie Nwankwo, an APGA member of the House of Representatives, who once reportedly flirted with the All Progressives Congress (APC), earned 69,702 votes, with sitting Senator Uche Ekwunife of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) getting 49,532 votes.


“With a huge difference of over 35,000 votes, isn’t it strange that the Honorable Nwankwo should head for the Election Petitions Tribunal to demand that Senator Umeh’s election be nullified and he be upheld as the duly elected senator of Anambra Central?”, James Onuora, an Awka-based journalist, asked rhetorically when news filtered recently that the defeated APGA candidate has petitioned against Umeh’s victory.


“It is paradoxical enough that Nwankwo should contest against Umeh”, remarked Chinwe Okoli, a retired broadcaster in the state. “It was Umeh who raised Nwankwo’s hand and gave him the flag to contest for the House of Representatives when the latter was the powerful APGA national chairman in 2015. Nwankwo was then seeking to represent the Njikoka/Dunukofia/Aniocha Federal Constituency.


“It was the same thing four years later when Nwankwo was seeking reelection, though Senator Umeh had by this time ceased to be the APGA national chairman. He was still powerful, having led former Governor Willie Obiano to the historic victory in 21 out of 21 local government areas in Anambra State in November 2017; Umeh was the director general of the Willie Obiano Campaign which did a wonderful job.”


Nwankwo won in both 2015 and 2019. There is something interesting about the victories: both were obtained through judicial pronouncements. According to Emeka Anikwe, a lawyer, this explains why he is this time returning to the Election Petitions Tribunal even against his former boss. When the Anambra State government helped him to win the APGA senatorial ticket against Umeh in May 2022, by getting 162 votes as against Umeh’s 151 votes, the Hon Nwankwo expressed trepidation in his acceptance speech that he fought against Umeh. There are rumours that it is the state administration that is egging him on to continue to fight Umeh after the February 25 National Assembly election.


Critics accuse the federal lawmaker of employing the strategy of “legal ambush” to win legislative elections, having delivered two victories in legislative elections since 2015 through this means. Will the strategy work this time?

Ifeanyi Menakaya, an Awka-based lawyer, believes that a much stronger factor against Nwankwo obtaining a victory from the tribunal or the Court of Appeal this time is the margin of victory between him and Umeh in the Senate election. “A difference of 35,000 votes is huge anywhere”, he argued recently on the radio. “It does not make Nwankwo come near to victory. Neither the Election Petitions Tribunal nor the Court of Appeal can upturn this kind of victory by Umeh without serious consequences for the people of Anambra Central.


“To make matters a bit more difficult for him, Nwankwo is relying on a lot of technicalities. It would seem that the jurists are more interested in the merit of each case than the technicalities because these are political cases. The people are interested in questions like who scored more votes and in a free and fair manner rather than the length of the membership of any party. In any case, the Court of Appeal has since resolved the question of how long Senator Umeh has been a Labour Party member. It was resolved when Senator Ekwunife took him to court on this matter and the Court of Appeal affirmed Senator Umeh as a validly nominated and sponsored Candidate of the Labour Party for the 25th of February Senatorial Election.


The Hon Dozie Nwankwo, popularly known as Onye Ndozi, has been lucky with the tribunals and courts on two previous occasions when he ran for the House of Representatives. The contest for the Anambra Central senatorial zone presents a different scenario.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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