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Appeal Court: Group Accuses Minister Onyejeocha of Using Tinubu’s Name To Harass INEC Legal Team

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The Centre for Truth and Justice has accused the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, of undermining the administration of President Bola Tinubu and the nation’s democracy.

The Centre said Onyejeocha is using the name and office of President Tinubu to undermine the integrity of the judiciary and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in clear violation of the oath of
allegiance to which she is sworn.

Recall that Onyejeocha was declared the winner of the February 25 election for the Isuikwato-Imunneochi Federal Constituency by the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Umuahia, Abia State.

Hon. Ogah Amobi of the Labour Party, however, appealed the ruling having initially emerged victoriously.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the national coordinator of the Centre, Obinna Francis, said the Minister is intimidating and harassing state institutions to allocate her victory at the Court of Appeal.

Francis added that Onyejeocha went as far as coercing INEC’s counsel to withdraw from the case over threats to his life

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“While we had thought the counsel should have stood his ground, we now have cause to sympathize with him and understand his decision to withdraw,” the statement added.

“The counsel INEC engaged to replace him is also now under pressure to not represent INEC before the Court of Appeal as Onyejeocha has also threatened him that President Tinubu and the Chief of Staff (Gbajabiamila) will deal with him if he fails to sabotage INEC’s case in the appeal. She also vowed to show the council the full force of her powers as a female member of the Federal Executive Council.

“We are further concerned that the INEC staffers, who are responsible for engaging these lawyers for legal representation of the Commission, now live in fear for their careers and lives as Minister Onyejeocha has told them in clear terms to not further engage any lawyer to defend INEC before the Court of Appeal if they value their jobs and lives of their loved ones.

“We all know how government employees react under this kind of condition; they will simply desist from doing the right thing, which is what the Minister wants to secure an upholding of the Tribunal ruling. Our Center has tried to convince the affected INEC officials to go public with how Onyejeocha is using her position as a Minister and the name of President Tinubu to intimidate them to do the wrong thing but the feedback we have gotten so far is that they are too intimidated to call out the Minister.

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“She has gone ahead to give the Apapa faction of the Labour Party N50m to come and disrupt court proceedings. Anyone on her hit list, those who failed to do her bidding, would be harmed in the course of such disruptions, which would make it appear as if they suffered a mishap in the course of a routine fracas.

“Coming from a serving Minister, we view Onyejeocha’s actions as capable of triggering unexpected and exaggerated consequences that could spell the end for our democracy hence our decision to weigh on this matter before it is too late. The powers of the state were not intended to be abused on this scale or even abused at all.”

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While urging President Tinubu to call Onyejeocha to order, the Centre, therefore, advised Gbajabiamila to clear the air on this matter.

Francis added: “As a matter of urgency, given the preference that Onyejeocha has expressed for returning to the House of Representatives given the desperate criminality she has deployed by leveraging President Tinubu’s name, we appeal to Mr. President to excuse her from her current role so that the sanctity of the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and President Tinubu’s name would be preserved.

“In conclusion, we urge the Court of Appeal judges, INEC staff, and anyone retained as counsel by INEC not to succumb to Onyejeocha’s threats and blackmail. They should be bold enough to reveal the threats she has been directing at them for Nigeria to move beyond the era of power is might that the Minister typifies”.

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