September 18, 2016.
To: The Secretary, IPAI Board of Directors
From: High Chief Esse Esse (Member, IPAI Pacific Coast Chapter).
Supported by: Ukaegbu Ukaegbu (President, IPAI Pacific Coast Chapter)
Aa hii Ebiri! Ezumezu!
Igbere si “Ezi okwu bu ndu”.
“Please be assured that this board is very proactive, process oriented and meticulous. The board will deliberate all issues with objectivity and fairness and will come to a resolution.”
Honorable Board members of our noble organization, the above quote is from one of the paragraphs of your letter to all IPAI members dated September 12, 2016. I draw inspiration and courage from two words; objectivity and fairness in that letter as I submit my petition to you regarding the 2016 IPAI presidential election.
My Petition Regarding the 2016 IPAI Convention Presidential Election
The IPAI Constitution was completely violated and undermined before and during the 2016 IPAI New York Convention Presidential Election.
Our CONSTITUTION is supreme and sacrosanct. Adherence to the stipulations of the constitution is the glue that holds all of us together. You esteemed Board members are charged with the interpretation of this noble document.
During the IPAI presidential election campaign false and misleading information tantamount to character assassination was used against me in violation of our constitution. Article IV, Section 2b, offers a re-dress to a member whose character is “defamed, damaged or falsely accused”. The violations of our constitution in the hall on the Election Day, July 29, 2016 which this petition detailed below are verifiable and perhaps witnessed by ALL SEVEN BOARD MEMBERS.
I, High Chief Esse Esse IPAI Pacific Coast Chapter member do categorically state the following:
The IPAI Presidential Election at the 2016 New York Ezumezu was manipulated to produce a predetermined outcome. The election was conducted in such a way as to select a president chosen, promoted and supported by the former President Mr. Saul Onyeuku and the former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief Mike Awa.
The above named individuals used their official IPAI positions to recruit someone they wanted to become the president and initially appointed three-member Election Committee without the knowledge/approval of the majority of the Board of Directors in order to achieve the predetermined outcome.
The above described IPAI officials never cared about the damage their plot and actions could cause the IPAI organization and the Igbere people in general. In the pursuance of this desire, IPAI constitution was violated.
Here are the facts of my case from my perspective:
Article X111 section I of our constitution states:
“An election ad-hoc committee shall be appointed by the Board of Directors to conduct all elections at the national convention of IPAI. Any contest resulting from the election shall be referred to the Board of Directors for resolution. The Board’s decision shall be presented to the general house for approval and adoption. The Caretaker Committee shall appoint the first election ad-hoc committee, and any contest resulting from this first election shall be referred to the Caretaker Committee for resolution and its decision presented to the general house for approval and adoption. The ad-hoc committee shall consist of five members.”
1. The Presidential Election
After the voting ended and votes were counted, I had 28 votes and Mr. Elesie Eke my opponent had 24 votes according to some of the members of the Election Committee. (Names will be given as witnesses upon request)
The question is why was that first balloting vote tally not announced to the general members at the convention? According to election practices once votes are counted and THERE IS NO OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE LIKE THE NUMBER OF VOTES RETURNED BEING MORE THAN VOTES DISTRIBUTED, the election committee was duty bound to announce the result of the vote tally.
The Election Committee asked Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke from Massachusetts to verify some writing similarities on some of the official ballots and he said “I can confirm that only two ballots had similar writing and not four.” All of you seven board members were present in the hall during the New York 2016 presidential election and therefore are witnesses to the following FACTS:
(I) Mr. Onwubueke was called to verify four (4) ballots with similar handwriting by the electoral committee.
(II) That Mr. Onwubueke stated that only two (2) ballots had similar handwriting AND NOT FOUR (4).
A. Why were the other two ballots not put back to my vote tally where they were pulled from?
Nevertheless, the Election Committee discarded 4 (four) ballots belonging to me, to artificially make the contest a tie. Why didn’t the Election Committee discard two ballots that Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke confirmed to have similar writing? Votes that have similar handwriting are not an election malpractice. Our constitution states that one has to be present to vote and no voting by proxy. As far I know neither the members of the election committee nor Mr. Onwubueke are handwriting experts therefore none of them should be studying hand writing. I submit to you that it was a ploy by the original three member election committee in order to produce the predetermined result of electing Mr. Elesie Eke in line with Mr. Saul Onyeuku’s statement “Never Esse, anybody but Esse”. But this plan was truncated by one of the election committee member appointed in the hall by the former board chairman Chief Mike Awa and again inadvertently by one of the original three Election committee members. They both stated “Yes we counted the votes and Esse had 28 and Elesie 24 and Mike told us that Ukaegbu wrote someone’s name so we had to go through all the votes and pulled four votes from Esse”. The election committee cannot claim they did not count the votes because in the hall the chairman said “if we remove the four votes it is a tie, 24/24” How would one know that information if the votes were not counted?
Also, according to some members of the Election Committee, a total of 53 votes were distributed and 52 (28+24) were returned. That vividly showed that no outside or foreign ballots were introduced to the official ballots.
Furthermore, the first three appointed members of the Election Committee came to the convention with the already prepared official ballots that were used throughout the balloting/election process.
It must be emphasized that there is no place in our constitution that gave the Election Committee power to tamper with ballots or discard ballots and then conduct a rerun of the election. Rather, the constitution states that a contested election should be referred to the Board of Directors.
If the Election Committee encountered problems or had issues during the electoral process, our constitution spelled out the process to undertake in the event of a contested election. Therefore, I submit that this was a scheme hatched out to produce a predetermined result.
All of you seven board members were present in the hall during the New York 2016 presidential election and therefore are witnesses to the following FACTS:
(I) Chief Mike Awa was constantly communicating with the election committee even after the board had been dissolved.
(II) Mr. Ukaegbu and Chief Mike Awa had a shouting match in the hall when Chief Mike Awa accused Mr. Ukaegbu of interfering with the election. It was just plain out of order for ANYBODY to be interfering with the election committee once the election was in process. The optics and maneuvers supported by facts are tantamount to election rigging!
The former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief Mike Awa made himself the moderator on election floor, interfering with the electoral process. The former Chairman of the Board of Directors kept going to the podium where the members of the Election Committee sat to say something and in one of such process he found out that Chief Esse had 28 votes and his candidate Mr. Elesie Eke had 24 votes. He then told the Election Committee that Mr. Ukaegbu had written a name on a ballot for someone. This allegation against Ukaegbu was completely false. The Election Committee then went through my ballots and pulled out 4 ballots and discarded the four ballots in order to achieve an artificial tie votes.
B. Why did the former Board Chairman keep communicating with the Election Committee? If the former Chairman denies it was his interference that led to the search for similar handwriting then the million dollar question is WHAT LED THE ELECTION COMMITTEE TO START A SEARCH OF SIMILAR HANDWRITING? THE ONLY ONE COMMUNICATING WITH THEM WAS CHIEF MIKE AWA AS WE ALL WITNESSED.
Soon after the dissolution of the IPAI Governing Body in order to conduct new elections, nobody from the old IPAI officials has the right under the constitution to interfere with the electoral process or communicate constantly with the Election Committee. If the Election Committee encountered a problem during the process, the matter should be referred to all the members of the Board of Directors for resolution as the constitution clearly stipulated.
The former Chairman’s input was what led to the disruption and manipulation of the voting process. We have never had a moderator between the Election Committee and the house in any of our elections since the inception of IPAI. It is unconstitutional! The Election Committee is charged with running the election, period.
a. Interfering with the Electoral process/communicating with the Election committee by Chief Mike Awa
b. Suppressing the voice of IPAI members by not announcing the result of the first balloting
c. Conducting an unwarranted election rerun by the election committee
2. Appointment of Election Committee:
Article X111, Section I of IPAI constitution states that “the Board of Directors shall appoint the Election Committee and it shall consist of 5 members. But The former Board Chairman, Chief Mike Awa and former Secretary of the Board, Chief Chukwu Oko in collaboration with the former IPAI President Mr. Saul Onyeuku and perhaps another board member selected three members of the Election Committee. Two out of the three original Election Committee members turned out to be immediate family members of the Secretary of the Board and the Ex-President, wife (Mrs. Ijeoma Oko) and brother (Dr. Eme Onyeuku) respectively.
There are seven members of the Board of Directors, 3 of which are from Pacific Coast Chapter and the other from Michigan. None of these members can find notice nor recollect deliberation in a quorum constituted meeting about the Election Committee. The Board’s quorum is half+1 equals 4. The ex-president is not a member of the Board and therefore cannot constitute a quorum.
Furthermore, some of you reading this petition can vouch and attest that the Ex-Chairman of the Board Chief Mike Awa called some individuals to canvass for the election of Mr. Elesie Eke for president. He said “It is Elesie “we” want to go this time”.
The ex-president Mr. Saul Onyeuku said “Everyone knows I am supporting Elesie.” He added “Esse didn’t work well with me, if I am at East he is at West” and vowed that Esse can never be the president of IPAI. He repeatedly said “anybody but Esse.”
Since the Ex-Chairman of the Board had a preferred candidate he should have recused himself in any deliberations involving the appointment of Election Committee if ever there was any. Also, the ex-president should not have had ANY INPUT in this process.
The email announcing the Election Committee selection was sent to Mr. Saul Onyeuku, Chief Chukwu Oko and Chief. Mike Awa and none sent to any of these other 4 board members. It was kept a secret to other board members. Email recipients will be submitted upon request.
All of you seven board members were present in the hall during the New York 2016 presidential election and therefore are witnesses to the following FACT:
At the hall on election night, the Ex-Chairman was challenged about the appointments and he said there should have been 5 members of the Election Committee instead of three. He appointed 2 more and called two other board members to agree with him. “If ever these appointments were made by the board as the constitution stipulated, why did we stop at 3 and not 5 members as enshrined in our constitution” ? A former member of the board directors asked after the fact. “I am not that old that I cannot remember voting for someone” He continued. “I don’t like to be made to look stupid”. He finalized. This former board member is willing to appear before you to confirm these statements upon request.
The Election Committee was not appointed by the Board of Directors but selected by the Ex-Chairman and cohort.
For all these reasons I am humbly requesting:
a). That a fact finding panel be set up to investigate the election process during the 2016 IPAI Convention in New York.
b). That the result of the first balloting of the presidential election be announced to all IPAI members.
c). That former President Mr. Saul Onyeuku and former Secretary of the Board Chief. Chukwu Oko who are presently members of the board should recuse themselves in ANY deliberations and/or voting regarding this matter, for the sake of fairness, transparency, equity and good conscience.
d). That the former board Chairman Chief Mike Awa and members of the election committee should not be members of any panel set up by the board if any.
Finally, Honorable Board members you are the last hope for the will of the people to be restored. Your job is not for the faint hearted, it is for courageous men and women like you who will call it as you see it regardless of whose ox is gored. I am confident that if you follow the facts with our constitution as your guide that you will reach a decision that will re-unite our fractured organization.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.
High Chief. Esse N. Esse, Member, Pacific Coast
1. Email notifying board members of the appointment of an Election Committee.
2. Names of witnesses.