Ukaegbu Ukaegbu’s Response to the Independent Panel Inquiry About 2016 IPAI Presidential Election

IP Request to: Anyaogu E, Dick Ijioma, Leonard Ibeka, Ijeoma Oko, Eme Onyeuku, Ukaegbu Ukaegbu, Esse Esse, and Elesie Eke.

RESPONSE TO INDEPENDENT PANEL INQUIRY –

By Ukaegbu Ukaegbu:
Former IPAI Secretary (2007 – 2011),
Former IPAI Vice President (2011 – 2013),
Former IPAI Publicity Secretary (2013 – 2016),
Former IPAI Financial Secretary (2015 – 2016),
President, IPAI Pacific Coast Chapter (2007 – Present),
Vice President Elect (2016 – 2019) – [but resigned in 2017]

Considering the assigned responsibilities to your Independent Panel by the Igbere Progressive Association International (IPAI) Board of Directors to:
a) Review;
b) Ascertain what really occurred at the 2016 IPAI Convention; and
c) Make a recommendation(s), based on the panel’s findings, on how to keep Igbere IPAI united;

Your panel requested that certain members of IPAI including my humble person Mr. Ukaegbu Ukaegbu to render their account of what they witnessed especially during the presidential election held at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel, New York on Friday July 29. 2016.

Meanwhile, your panel is moving meticulously through this challenging Fact-finding phase of the task and therefore requesting me and others to account for what I witnessed others carry out/or and what I did in direct relationship to any: (1) action, (2) decision(s), (3) communication(s), and (4) unusual interaction(s), which contributed or led to the: “Decision not to announce the outcome (result) of the 1st Presidential Election result”.
Therefore, the statements below are my answers to the specific questions posed by your independent panel:

(1) Who & who made the decision not to announce the 1st election result?
ANSWER
The defunct Electoral Committee Chairman, Chief Eme Onyeuku, and the former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief Mike Awa.

(2) Why was the decision not to announce this 1st presidential election made?
ANSWER
It remains a mystery to every discerning mind why the decision not to announce the first presidential ballot was made because the reason given by the Chairman of the Electoral Committee defies common sense and logic based on the facts witnessed on the election floor.
More importantly, the decision not to announce the first presidential election certainly violated the IPAI Constitution, Article XIII, Section (I), which reads in part as follows:
“ … 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….”

In this case, the contest resulting from the aforesaid election was never referred to the Board of Directors for resolution, and as such it was a constitutional violation.

The contest resulting from the election ensued when the Chairman of the Electoral Commission announced that Electoral Committee found 4 ballots with handwriting similarities. This prompted questions and challenges by many voters on the floor including Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke, Mr. Leonard Ibeka. And Mr. Ukaegbu Ukaegbu.
First of all, Mr. Leonard asked the Electoral Committee if have any forensic handwriting expert in their midst and the answer was, NO.

While these challenges were going on, Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke was invited by the Electoral Committee to come over to the podium to examine the alleged 4 ballots claimed to have hand writing similarities and he obliged. After careful examination of the 4 ballots, Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke announced to the house that he found only two ballots out of the four ballots to have similar handwriting. Also he suggested that the Electoral Committee may invited any other person to come forward and verify what he just stated.

Irrespective of the vigorous contest and challenges, and Mr. Onwubueke’s testimony, the electoral committee Chairman Chief Eme Onyeuku insisted that 4 ballots had similar handwriting. The Chairman was then asked if the Electoral Committee had counted the total ballots for each of the candidates, and he immediately replied, NO. Then he was asked to count the ballots and then he immediately responded something like: “If the 4 ballots are removed from the total, it would be a tie 24 votes (for Esse Esse) and 24 votes (for Elesie Eke)”
Within this time of the events, the former Chairman of the Board Chief Mike Awa got into and declared that there would be a rerun based on the announcement. Thereafter, the house went wide with chaos and rancor, as many of the electorates expressed resentment on the electoral committee.

In the midst of this commotion, Mr. Ukaegbu Ukaegbu stated that the election being conducted by the Electoral Committee is becoming a sham and then appealed for suspension of further election until the Board of Directors look into the matter OR even if there would be another presidential election let it be done the next day (July 30, 2016) after the Board of Directors may have looked into the contest as stipulated in the IPAI constitution. The appeal by Ukaegbu Ukaegbu and others basically fell on deaf ears as the Electoral Committee members move on quickly to usher voters to the podium to line up for another election.

While this this chaos, raucous, disorder and contention was going on, some electorates walked out of the election hall in protest including Mr. Ukaegbu Ukaegbu who refused to be coerced into another election when the process required to conclude the first election has not been exhausted because it has resulted in a contest.

(3) What was the process taken or followed in making the decision not to announce the 1st election result?
ANSWER
After collecting the ballots from the electorates, the Electoral Committee tallied it and then pulled 4 ballots which they claimed to have similar handwriting from one of the two candidates. Chief Mike Awa was interfering with the electoral process since he went to the podium and repeatedly and told the electoral committee members something before the decision not to announce the first ballot was made.

Some of the voters questioned the Electoral Committee’s claim that 4 ballots had similar handwriting and then one of the voter, Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke was invited to come and examine the 4 ballots. After he carefully examined the ballots, he announced to the house that two ballots had similar handwriting and not 4 as claimed by the Electoral Committee.

Thereafter, Dr. Anyaogu Elekwachi went to the podium to inform the Electoral Committee that the two ballots with similar handwriting belongs to him and his wife. Irrespective of these testimonies, the Electoral Committee canceled 4 votes which belongs to one candidate.

The house still questioned the Electoral committee further and the committee insisted on their claim and did not call for a second witness to examine the ballot. While this was going on Chief Mike Awa was still communicating with the electoral committee even though he was supposed to wait until the electoral committee hand over the contested election to the Board of Directors.

(4) How was the decision to annul the 1st presidential election result communicated to the contesting presidential candidates (to Mazi Elesie & Chief Esse)?
ANSWER
The decision to annul the first presidential election was announced on the floor and there is no indication from my perspective that the two contestants were communicated to personally or privately.

(5) Was any opportunity given to any of the presidential election contestants (Mazi Elesie & Chief Esse) to contest the issue of the HANDWRITING SIMILARITIES?
ANSWER
NO, the candidates were not given any opportunity to contest the issue of handwriting similarities which the electoral committee allegedly claimed to have found. Also, the candidates were not given opportunity to challenge the cancelation of the four ballots and the announcement of tie votes.

As soon as the first election was unconstitutionally annulled the electoral committee and then Chief Mike Awa without any hesitation ordered for fresh second election which some of the IPAI members including Mr. Ukaegbu Ukaegbu immediately opposed vehemently and vociferously.

The Electoral Committee members and Chief Mike Awa rushed the electorates to line up on the podium for the second election. The candidates and the electorates were coerced into lining up for a second election and many of the electorates obliged because perhaps they have no idea what the constitution says about contested election.

(6) What was told to Mazi Elesie / or Chief Esse (particularly; to Esse) to get his consent to annul the 1st presidential election result; and to go to a 2nd balloting?
ANSWER
The contestants Mazi Elesie and Chief Esse Esse were basically the candidates on the ballot and as such were required to follow the rules set by the electoral committee. There is no indication from my perspective that the consent of the candidates were sought before the annulment of the first presidential election.

The Electoral Committee insisted on a rerun and forced it on the house because they swiftly directed the electorates to climb up to the podium and line up for another voting. The candidates simply obeyed the IPAI’s constituted authority because any disobedience at that point would result in automatic disqualification of the candidate.

(7) When/how was the decision to annul the result of the 1st presidential election communicated to the entire Convention Delegates on the floor?
ANSWER
The Election Committee asked Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke who lives in Massachusetts to come up to the podium to examine some handwriting similarities which the electoral committed claimed to have discovered.
After Mr. Fidelis Onwubueke examined the presented four ballots, he announced to the house that he can confirm that only two ballots had similar writing and not four.
Also, Mr. Onwubueke added that the Electoral Committee may invite another person to come and confirm what he reported.

Moreover, Dr. Anyaogu Elekwachi went to the electoral committee and informed the Chairman that the two ballots belongs to him and his wife who was sitting beside him during the voting.
Despite these testimonies, the Electoral Committee did not invite a second person as suggested by Mr. Onwubueke but instead went ahead and removed 4 ballots from one candidate and then announced the result to be a tie vote (24 votes for Esse Esse and 24 votes for Elesie Eke).

At this juncture it was clear to me that an artificial tie has been created to force a rerun of the election. Creating artificial tie contravenes the IPAI Constitution that promotes honesty and equality of all members.
Once again, there was a constitutional violation of the IPAI Constitution Article XIII, Section (I), because the Electoral Committee did not refer the contested election to the Board of Directors but instead the former Chairman of the Board muddled up the electoral process through his series of interference and interaction with the Electoral Committee.

(8) What were exactly the observable actions of some of the non-electoral committee members, such as {if you are mentioned here-under; give account of your actions – not presumptive action(s)}: (a) Chief Mike Awa? (b). Mazi Ukaegbu Ukaegbu? (c) Dr. Anyaogu Elekwachi? (d). Mazi Leonard Ibeka? (e) Mazi Elesie Eke? (f). Mazi Saul Onyeuku? (g) Chief Chukwu Oko? (h). Chief Esse Esse? (i) Mazi Dick Ijioma? (j). Ijeoma Oko? (k) Dr. Eme Onyeuku? (l). Ebere Ukaegbu?
ANSWER
BEFORE THE ELECTION: Just after the 2013 – 2016 IPAI Executive Committee were dissolved, the 2013-2016 Board of Directors took over and presided by Chief Mike Awa with Chukwu Oko as the Secretary. As the time for election drew closer, he announced a preselected 3-member Electoral Committee contrary to IPAI Constitution. This was immediately challenged by some members who were shocked that the Electoral Committee were appointed before the convention instead of at the convention as stipulated in the IPAI constitution.

According to the ARTICLE XIII, Section (I) of the IPAI Constitution, it says:
“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 IPAI Constitution Page 10 of 12 September2007 presented to the general house for approval and adoption. The ad-hoc committee shall consist of five members.”

However, the Election Committee were appointed before the convention and not at the convention. Secondly, the Election Committee must be 5 members but Chief Mike announced 3 member committee. While the opposition to the pre-appointment of the election committee before the convention was going on, Chief Mike Awa discovered he made a mistake and then tried to correct it. He ended up appointing addition two members (Mr. Elijah Kalu and Madam Ebere Ukaegbu) on the floor to serve in the Election Committee thereby having 5 members.

Also, before the election, Ukaegbu Ukaegbu served the association as the Financial Secretary (2015 – 2016). During the town hall meeting Ukaegbu Ukaegbu requested all Chapter Presidents and/or Financial Secretaries to reconcile their membership financial records with him in order to appropriately identify and verify all those who are eligible to vote and be voted for.

Whereas some Chapters did that before the convention, some Chapter Officers updated their records after receiving members’ fee at the convention. Canada and Southeast Officers or representatives paid their money directly to the Treasurer before reconciling their membership list with Ukaegbu Ukaegbu.

In addition, New York Chapter had paid in the sum of $1230 into IPAI bank account and then New York’s Financial Secretary Ms. Uche Ogwe presented the list of their members who made the payment accordingly to Ukaegbu Ukaegbu. This list tallied with the amount paid in by New York Chapter.

Therefore, it was a compilation of these names using financial records that were used to validate the list of eligible voters. More importantly, the Electoral Committee did in fact verified this list because they collected the original compilation from Ukaegbu Ukaegbu and then invited him to make sure about what they were looking for.

DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: The former Board of Directors’ Chairman, Chief Mike Awa literally usurped the duties of the electoral committee by making himself the moderator on election floor. The IPAI Constitution does not accommodate such interference since there is a provision therein to refer contested election to the Board of Directors, whose decision shall be presented to the general house for approval and adoption.

He repeatedly interfered with the electoral process by going to the podium where the Election Committee were situated to say something to them. In one of such trips to the podium he was informed about the initial count and the alleged handwriting similarities.

Eventually, he announced that there would be a rerun of the election and at the same time warned Ukaegbu Ukaegbu ‘not to collect ballot again from anyone”. This was what finally triggered the confrontation between Ukaegbu Ukaegbu and Mike Awa.

Ukaegbu Ukaegbu’s Action during the Election:
As soon as the Electoral Committee were seated on the podium, the then Financial Secretary Mr. Ukaegbu Ukaegbu was asked the Electoral Committee to call out the list of members who are eligible to vote. Also, according to IPAI Constitution all members who are eligible to vote may run for office. All the delegates inside the election hall were asked by the Electoral Committee to move towards the back of the hall and wait for their name to be called.

Thereafter, the Financial Secretary used the list that was compiled and validated in the hall to call the name of eligible voters. As the name were called, the voters moved towards the reserved area and sat down. Once this process was completed, there was not more space for Ukaegbu to sit in the reserved area and so he stood up at the one corner of the one of the sitting rows.

After all the voters sat down the Electoral Committee invited Ukaegbu Ukaegbu to present to them the financial records list he just used for further verification, which Ukaegbu obliged.

The Electoral Committee distributed the ballots to the eligible voters and after the voting took place, one of the electoral Committee members came out and collected the ballots row-by-row. He asked the voters to hand over their completed ballot to the person sitting left of them until it gets to the last person sitting at the end of the each row. Since Ukaegbu Ukaegbu was already standing up, the voters who sat close to him handed him their ballot to pass onto the other side of the row since there is a staircase entrance that divides that particular row into two sides.
(See Photo below, the Election Hall Plan for illustration purposes)

While the collation of the votes were going on the former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief Mike Awa went to the podium and basically made himself the six member of the Electoral Committee or Moderator or something like that. He told the Electoral Committees members somethings.

After the electoral committee Chairman announced a tie vote, Chief Mike Awa pointed an accusing finger at Ukaegbu Ukaegbu by specifically telling him “not to collect ballot from anybody again”. Chief Mike Awa may have falsely concluded without any evidence that Ukaegbu Ukaegbu wrote for other voters since the electoral committee claimed that they discovered 4 ballots that had similar handwriting.

The FACT is that Ukaegbu Ukaegbu DID NOT write anything for any voter on the ballot. All the voters who sat close to where Ukaegbu Ukaegbu was standing voted by themselves and for the candidate of their choice.
The fact of the matter was that almost everybody torched a another ballot because the electoral committee member who came to collect the ballots directed that the completed ballots should be handed over from RIGHT to LEFT by the voter sitting close to them (facing the podium) of the sitting arrangement until all ballots from one sitting row get to the Electoral Committee member who came to collect it.

Therefore after Chief Mike Awa pointed an accusing finger at Ukaegbu by singling him out through his comment, then at this point Ukaegbu Ukaegbu reacted angrily to Mike Awa’s undue attack by asking him publicly the following questions:
“Why are you picking on me?”
“What have I done against you?”
“Can you tell Igbere people right here what I did wrong against them or you?”
“If you cannot say what I did wrong or my offense against Igbere or you then it means you are stupid.”
“Why are you constantly attacking me or unjustly picking on me?”

Ukaegbu felt under undue attack due to series of Chief Mike Awa’s comments and actions during the town hall general meeting. While this confrontation was going on two gentlemen Mr. Udemgba Igu and Professor Ugwa Ogbureke came up to appeal to Ukaegbu Ukaegbu to calm down and stop responding to Chief Mike Awa. Thereafter, Mr. Ukaegbu promised them that he would not respond to Chief Mike Awa again, which ended that episode of events.

CONCLUSION:
Honorable members of the Independent Panel, the Igbere Progressive Association International which we know, love and cherish is currently in abeyance. Only the truth and justice shall rescue the association from total collapse. If we love Igbere, then we must follow the truth and “let the chips fall where they may”. If we all follow the FACTS, we shall all come to the same conclusion. Series of evidence and the provisions of the IPAI constitution all point to the FACT that a winner emerged after the first ballot and so there was no need for the second election. Steps taken to force the second election violated IPAI Constitution.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if you need further information or any clarification.

Best Regards

Ukaegbu Ukaegbu
Twitter: @ukaegbupost
www.facebook.com/ukaegbu24th

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