A mild drama occurred yesterday, Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at the Delta state Election Petition Tribunal when a supposedly dead man, Christopher Anirah, made an unexpected appearance in court to testify.
The News reports that the court case which was between Gibson Ighofose Akporehe of the All Progressives Congress and Evelyn Omavowan Oboro, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) became rowdy as everyone decided to run for cover when the supposed dead man made a grand unexpected appearance into the court.
The case is about an election petition matter between the aforementioned people in the 2015 House of Representative election for Okpe, Sapale and Uvwie Federal Constituency. It was said that the APC candidate, Akporehe had through his Counsel, Charles Umweni, told the Tribunal that Anirah, the witness he intended to call, could not come to the Court to testify because he was dead. He went further to say that Anirah died of cardiac arrest, hence, his absence at the court to give evidence in the on-going case.
However, the court was thrown into chaos when Anirah appeared and stepped into the witness box to give evidence after the Chairman of the three-man Tribunal, Justice Adebukole Banjoko, called out the name. His appearance caused a stir, prompting Justice Banjoko to call for calm.
Christopher Anirah told the court how he was the rightful candidate of APC for the Okpe, Sapale and Uvwie Federal Constituency of Delta State in the 2015 National Assembly election and how his name was “fraudulently substituted” with Akporehe’s name on account that he was dead. He alleged that Akporehe “forged a death certificate from a Genera Hospital that I died of cardiac failure and hypertension,” with which he deceived INEC to remove his name from the list of contestants for the election.
He also told the Tribunal that somebody who posed as his family member was made to testify that the death rumor was true to convince INEC to carry out the plan of substituting his name. He further said that he got several death threats via phone calls, warning him not to come near the Tribunal premises to testify in the on-going matter between Oboro and Akporehe, as doing so will be at the risk of his life.
“The notice was supported with a forged death certificate signed by a non-existent Dr. Jude Omoefe from a non-existent Government Hospital, Orerokpe. It says Christopher Anirah died of cardiac failure and hypertension. Also backing the notice is an affidavit of death dated January 15, 2015 and deposed to by Okonji at the Ughoton Customary Court, Ughoton, Delta State,” he said. He continued by saying:
“After the primaries, I travelled briefly out of the country. When I returned on January 23, I heard that one Cyril Ogodo, the deputy state chairman of my party, had sold my mandate to one Gibson Akporehe. The party claimed not to know about it.
“When I formally reported the matter to the party, the state chairman, Erhue, and the gubernatorial candidate, Emerhor, instructed the deputy state chairman, Ogodo, to go back and restore my name, which he did after collecting some amounts of money from me.
“Surprisingly, after my name had entered the final list of INEC, I got wind of their plan to substitute me on the ground that I was dead. I now wrote to APC and INEC (tendered copies of the letter). I went there myself to submit the letters in which I informed them that some people were faking my death in order to substitute me. That was on January 24.
“Before then, during our campaign at Orerokpe, the APC governorship candidate told the people at the rally that in a few days time they would know who would be the House of Representatives candidate between me and Akporehe. After the rally I met him and asked why he made such statement, knowing I was the candidate. He just smiled and didn’t say anything.
“Five days later, I got a call from INEC in Abuja that if I was alive I should come to their office at 7 am the next day. The call came at about 9 pm. That same night, I left Sapele at 11 pm, drove overnight to INEC in Abuja where I met Mr. Ibrahim Bawa, the head of legal unit of the commission.
Just recently, the Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa suffered a setback in his quest to contend the earlier ruling by the state’s election tribunal at Asaba that favoured his main opponent in the gubernatorial election, O’tega Emerhor of the All Progressives Congress.