Inconsistent names: Edo voters sue LP Akpata

The fate of Labour party, LP Candidate in the September 21, 2024 Edo governorship election, Olumide Akpata, is on cliff hanger over a suit filed before an Edo State High Court sitting in Benin by some eligible voters in the State.

The Claimants in the suit marked B/372/2024, are asking Akpata to show cause why he should not be disqualified as the Candidate of LP over alleged forged identity, fraudulent misrepresentation and deception of electorate in the State, for political gain, ahead of the poll.

The Claimants in their submissions, accused that the LP Candidate of perjury in his name, Olumide Anthony Akpata, which was published by the Independent National Electoral Commission, which was different from Olumide Osaigbovo Akpata, the defendant’s name.

In their declaration, they claimed that the civil name and identity of the Labour Party candidate is Anthony Olumide Akpata and not Osaigbovo Olumide Akpata as he now claims for ‘selfish electoral gains’.

Some sections of the writ of summons cited by our correspondent reads, “A DECLARATION of this Honourable Court that the Claimants being eligible Voters in the forthcoming 21st September, 2024 Edo State gubernatorial election and are wont to rely on truthful, honest and decent communication by and/or on behalf of Candidates of political parties and political parties in making informed choices with regards to who to vote for, and the Claimants are entitled to being communicated to bona fide, truthfully, honestly and with candor by candidates and political parties participating in the said election to be conducted by the 3rd Defendant.

“A DECLARATION of this Honourable Court that the name and civil identity of the 1st Defendant for all time and all purposes, including as showing in the 3rd Defendant’s publication of the particulars of the 1st Defendant as the 2nd Defendant’s candidate in the 21st September, 2024 aforesaid off-season election, is ANTHONY OLUMIDE AKPATA and as such the name ANTHONY OLUMIDE AKPATA should remain for all purposes the name and civil identity of the 1st Defendant, the said name is and should be the name the 1st Defendant is lawfully permitted to hold out to and project to prospective Voters and through the mass media and howsoever for the purpose of the election, under reference.

It further added, “A DECLARATION of this Honourable Court that the 1st and 2nd Defendants’ wont, style and pattern of using and/or adding the Benin name “OSAIGBOVO” to the name and civil identity of the 1st Defendant in the 1st and 2nd Defendants’ public presence qua mass communication and presentations, as verily showing in online adverts, billboards, paid advertorial in print and electronic media, etc same the Claimants find to be deliberate false information/broadcast, pretentious, misleading, cheating, stealing of the identity of another person, underhand therefore corrupt interference and practice, vile, repugnant, deceitful, deliberate deceitful communication, willful and fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment, hateful communication, forgery which said acts are also verily forbidden by extant laws, including the Electoral Act, 2022, Cybercrime (Prohibition) Act, and the Criminal Code law as applicable within the Edo State of Nigeria”.

“We want the Court to consign him to present himself as Anthony Olumide Akpata and stop parading himself as Osaigbovo Olumide which he now uses to deceive the Edo electorate.

In the writ of summon, the Claimants represented Professor Ike Aghaosa , Comrade Osadebamen Okhilua and Comrade Marxist Sunday Ogun, urged the court to stop Akpata from participating in the September 21 poll.

They also asked the LP Candidate to tender an unreserved apology to the claimants who are Edo voters, a Corrigedum in Newspapers, television and radio stations, retracting the misinformation and fraudulent misrepresentation and a punitive fine of five million Naira.

The Claimants attached some exhibits to the documents, including Akpata’s affidavit of support in the case against Anderson Uwadiae Asemota, the factional gubernatorial candidate of the Lamidi Apapa-led faction wherein he stated that his name is Olumide Anthony Akpata and not Olumide Osaigbovo Akpata.

Additionally, the list of Candidates published by INEC where his name appeared as Anthony Olumide Akpata, and his Labour Party Certificate of Return with his name as Anthony Olumide Akpata, among others.

“When he contested as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), his name was Anthony; when he joined the Labour Party, his name was Anthony; in the case with Anderson Uwadiae Asemota, the other Labour Party faction in the State, he said on oath that his name was Anthony not Osaigbovo; his name submitted to INEC was Anthony; in the list of candidates published by INEC, his name was Anthony; in his Labour Party Certificate of Return, his name was Anthony, and in his voters card his name is Anthony”, according to a dependable source.

The source queried “Who then is Osaigbovo that we now see in the many billboards that were commissioned by him? At what point did he transfigure from Anthony Olumide Akpata to Osaigbovo Olumide Akpata? Or is Anthony and Osaigbovo a different people? Is he just trying to lie and deceive Edo people just for the selfish goal of swaying voters on the basis of ethnic sentiments?

“Edo voters really need to know who they are voting for and this is why we are in Court, according to the source.

The case is slated for mention on Monday, May 06, 2024 before Justice Joy Okeaya-Inneh  of the Edo State High Court.

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