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S’east bishops ask S’Court to stop fraud culture in Enugu

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Southeast bishops have appealed to the Supreme Court to use the opportunity of deciding the Enugu State March 18 governorship election case before it to upend what they call a culture of fraud being instituted in Enugu.

Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party took Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the nation’s highest court over the Independent National Electoral Commission’s controversial declaration of the latter as the winner of the election.

Both the Enugu State Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal ruled in the PDP candidate’s favour when the matter was taken to them, but most Enugu people appear utterly dissatisfied with the judgments.

“We are once again intervening directly in the electoral heist because Enugu is not just the headquarters of the Southeast”, the Network of Evangelical Bishops of Nigeria (NEBN), Southeast Zone, stated in a statement in Enugu today, “but also the capital of the defunct Eastern Nigerian Region”.

Besides, said the religious leaders in the statement signed by Bishop Samuel Ani, the NEBN zonal chairman, and Bishop Emmanuel Eneh, the acting publicity secretary, “ all men and women of conscience have a duty to stop the culture of brazen graft and fraud being hoisted on the good people of Enugu since a couple of individuals in INEC decided to impose an illegitimate and a very unpopular government on the people”.

The religious leaders recalled that Mbah was arrested and detained for seven months by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following his activities as the Chief of Staff to Dr Chimaraoke Nnamani when the latter was the governor, even though Mbah now claims thatbe doing his NYSC in Lagos.

“How one individual can be doing his NYSC in Lagos and working as Chief of Staff in Enugu at the same time remains a mystery to mankind”, they stated.

“Mbah was able to get off the hook only when Dr. Nnamani entered a plea bargain with the EFCC”.

The NEBN remarked that “only last week Peter Mbah’s Pinnacle Oil and Gas Company was accused by the Senate Committee on Gas of collecting N10bn from the Central Bank of Nigeria for gas expansion but made no provision for gas in its expanded facility which was commissioned on October 30 2022 in Lagos.

“Mbah’s Pinnacle is company number five in the letter signed by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Jarigbe Agom JarigbeNational Gas, who made it clear that the money was taken under the National Gas Expansion Programme when Godwin Emefiele was the CBN Governor ”.

The bishops recalled that the EFCC dragged Pinnacle to court in 2012, charging it with fuel subsidy fraud worth N2bn.

They wondered why the Enugu State House of Assembly gave Mbah approval to obtain an N170bn loan when both the monthly internal revenue generation of the state and the allocation from the federation account are not more than N4bn.

They queried: “How can the state pay back, together with interest, and how long will it take to do so?

“We hope that the rumour making the rounds that the N170b facility is to bribe Supreme Court justices is not true”.

The religious leaders accused Mbah of forging his NYSC discharge certificate and massively inflating voting figures in his native Nkanu East Local Government Area during the gubernatorial election last March.

The onus, the bishops observed, “is now on the Supreme Court to use the opportunity of the election case to get Mbah out of office and teach Nigerians that fraud doesn’t pay.

“After all, Justice Mary Odili led her colleagues in the Supreme Court to decide in February 2020 in the Bayelsa State gubernatorial vote that forgery of any kind should not be associated with any public officer, and so stopped the governor-elect and his deputy from being sworn in the next day”.

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