The leading Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has once more been the target of corruption charges ahead of the 2023 presidential race.
The Igbo organization has already faced attention from the public for similar claims.
Members of the group were also accused of soliciting hundreds of millions of naira from presidential contenders in various prior elections.
Despite strong opposition from All Progressives Congress (APC) members from the South-East zone, Ohanaeze endorsed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in 2019. The change caused the gang to split up severely.
This time, it was claimed in a social media video clip that was going viral that the Igbo organization required contributions from a man named Comrade Kennedy Iyere in order to promote a South Eastern Nigerian presidential candidate.
A significant South-East presidential candidate is Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
Unnamed Ohanaeze leaders allegedly sought money in order to attend a conference for the facilitation of an Igbo-American president of Nigeria.
Chief Alex Ogbonnia, a spokesperson for the Prof. George Obiozor-led Ohanaeze, has disputed the assertions, pointing out that the Ohanaeze has consistently been in the vanguard of the movement for a South-East president.
He continued by expressing sorrow for the group’s backing of Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s presidential candidate, in the general elections of 2019.
He continued by saying that Atiku’s backing at the time—who, by the way, is today the PDP’s presidential nominee—was to blame for the difficulties the Igbo people are currently experiencing.
Ogbonnia dismissed the bribery claim as the most “fallacious, mendacious and callous of all the falsehoods aimed at tarnishing the image of the Igbo as the Judas category that values money more than human conscience.”
He claimed that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo spread support for a president across all of Nigeria, including to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sultan of Sokoto His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III, Chief E. K. Clarke and Chief Ayo Adebanjo, former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the British High Commission, and many other locations.
He reiterated that he wrote to Atiku to remind him that their support for him in 2019 was the reason for the current struggles of the Igbos while demanding on a president of South East extraction.
“I also wrote to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, reminding him that the current Igbo travails are as a result of our support to his candidacy in 2019. A simple search on the internet will reveal that Ohanaeze had made numerous press releases urging Nigerians and the international community to lend support to the quest by the South East for presidency.
“On December 13, 2021, I personally addressed an Open Letter to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, reminding him that it is the turn of the South East to produce a president for Nigeria and urging him not to contest the 2023 presidency on the grounds of equity, justice and fairness.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo further propagated the advocacy to the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders (SMBLF) led by Chief E K Clarke, and Chief Nnia Nwodo as the Coordinator General. Other leaders of the SMBLF include Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the Leader of the Afenifere; Dr Pogu Bitrus, Leader, Middle Belt Forum, among others. Our gratitude goes to the SMBLF for their irrevocable position to support an Igbo of the South East for presidency in 2023. Similarly, we thank Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for receiving us in his Abeokuta residence about three times.
“In the social media clip making the rounds, orchestrated by one Comrade Kennedy Iyere, he alleged that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Chief Nnia Nwodo demanded payments from him to attend a meeting at Awka for a Nigerian president from the South East.
“The truth of the matter: In October 2020, Chief Damian Okeke Ogene, former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State chapter was contacted by Chief Iyere to invite the seven state presidents from the seven Ohanaeze States.
“Ogene explained to Iyere that members would be coming to Awka from distant places such as Port Harcourt, Owerri, Aba, Ebonyi and that it would not be possible for them to go back to their locations on the same day. Iyere promised to secure hotel accommodation for the seven persons, and that he would also pay for their transport costs.
“At the meeting in one hotel at Awka, Iyere was seated with White men and he highlighted the unbearable injustice to the Igbo by the past Nigerian leaders and the equity in a South Easterner to become the president of Nigeria come 2023.”
“Paradoxically, we were very delighted and also curious that a non-Igbo and White men were championing an Igbo cause. At the end of the meeting, he pleaded with us to manage seventy thousand naira (N70, 000.00); that is, ten thousand naira each, as transport costs.
“Some of us refused the money, while some others reasoned that it could be misinterpreted if we rejected the N10,000 each. I am rather shocked by the depravity and a kindergarten shenanigan with which Iyere painted his encounter with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; that Ohanaeze Ndigbo demanded payment from him in order to support an Igbo for presidency,” he noted.