A civil society organisation, National Liberty and Justice Movement (NLJM), has described as unfortunate an attempt to rape justice, the sudden release of Engr. Sunday Oche, a Benue House of Representatives aspirant, by the Nigeria Police, few hours after his arrest in Otukpo.
Oche, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was arrested and detained by the Nigeria Police, for allegedly committing forgery and perjury.
Engr. Oche who seeks to represent Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State, was tracked early hours of Sunday at Double K resort, Otukpo, and was immediately whisked away to Abuja where he was detained at the Force headquarters till night.
He was, however, released on bail by the Police around 8pm Sunday night after much interventions from his party’s stakeholders.
Comrade Wisdom Adeleye, national secretary of the NLJM, who spoke in Abuja last night, warned the law enforcement agency against being suppressed by the pressure from politicians in the area.
“We are very much aware of this case and we shall join the suit. Our lawyers have been briefed and they shall apply to join the suit as we await the arraignment of Mr. Sunday Oche. The same way we monitored the case of Hon. Gololo in Bauchi, we shall be actively involved in this, to ensure justice is served. The Police should not allow pressure from any powerful politician to suppress them. The entire world is watching”, Adeleye said.
It was gathered that, Oche’s arrest was predicated upon a petition submitted at Zone 7 Police Headquarters, Abuja and addressed to the Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) in charge of the Zone on the 19th April, 2022, by one Mr. Michael Unogwu, who was the APC candidate for House of Representatives in the 2019 general elections.
Our findings revealed that Engr. Oche allegedly forged the signature of Mr. Unogwu on his private letter head paper, causing a letter to be transmitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2018, as a purported letter of withdrawal from the National Assembly race, shortly after his (Unogwu) emergence as candidate of APC.
The petition which was submitted by Attorneys to Mr. Unogwu, F.S. Jimba & Co, reads in part: “after the submission of the name of our client as its candidate for the election by the APC, Mr. Oche Sunday Oche came up with a criminal design to unlawfully replace our client as APC candidate for the election. In this quest, Mr. Oche Sunday Oche criminally procured INEC form CF 004A(i) being notice of withdrawal of candidate, filled it with our client’s information, unlawfully obtained our client’s passport photograph and affixed to the said form and then forged our client’s signature on the said document.
“In addition to the above, Mr. Oche Sunday Oche placed his passport photograph on the said INEC Form CF 004A(i) as the candidate to replace our client as candidate.
“Furthermore, Mr. Oche Sunday Oche also forged a letter of withdrawal dated 15th November, 2018 and addressed to the National Chairman of APC, purportedly withdrawing our client’s candidature from the General Election. As a result of the above, the name of Mr. Oche Sunday Oche was then forwarded to INEC as candidate of APC for the election”.
The petitioners annexed the purported letter of withdrawal; INEC Form CF 004A(i) and letter of mandate from the party asking INEC to substitute the name of Mr. Unogwu for that of Engr. Oche.
Also annexed was the letter signed by the Secretary to the Commission (INEC), Rose Oriaran Anthony in December 2018, informing the party of the anomalies associated with the purported letter of withdrawal and the reply signed by the APC national Chairman, informing INEC that the letter of withdrawal was actually forged.
“After thorough investigation, the party has come to the conclusion that the purported letter of withdrawal was indeed forged, hence nullifying his purported withdrawal”, the letter signed by the APC national Chairman reads in part.
Also sighted by our reporter as an annexure, was a copy of affidavit deposed to by Engr. Oche, alluding that the information provided in the purported letter of withdrawal and the INEC Form CF 004A(i) were true; thereby committing perjury.
It was also gathered that, when the Zone 7 Police headquarters failed to act swiftly by arresting Engr. Oche, the Complainant, Mr. Unogwu, through his lawyers, approached the Court with a direct Criminal Complaint against the defendant, to seek his immediate prosecution for forgery, perjury and attempt to use a forged document to commit a crime.
The Chief Magistrate Court, Bwari, subsequently ordered his arrest, investigation and arraignment.
Comrade Austin Agada, the Benue State Chairman of APC, also confirmed the development to our reporter via telephone conversation Sunday night.
Reacting to the development, Mr. Lawrence Oduh, Director, Media and Publicity of Sunday Oche Campaign Organization, said the arrest was politically motivated, saying the issue was laid to rest 4 years ago.
“When we presented our case to the National Secretariat through the state secretariat, it was resolved and they brought a form for substitution that had a provision where Hon. Sunny Oche will sign an agreement that he is replacing the later who has already consented to the said letter and agreed to be substituted.
“What is Hon. Oche’s crime in this matter and why a matter that was laid to rest since 2018 be brought to this stage? Hon. Sunny Oche does not work at INEC nor is privy to their documents other than the ones made available by law to candidates of the said elections”, Oduh added.