Update from Tribunal on Okpokwu State Constituency.
How Benue Assembly Member Lied on Oath, Submits 3 Different Date of Birth…
It was a pathetic appearance for the Benue State House of Assembly member representing Okpokwu Local Government Constituency, Hon. Anthony Agom, who appeared before the State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal for cross examination on Thursday in Makurdi, Benue State.
Anthony Agom of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is being challenged in Court by his main challenger in the 2019 election, Hon. Theresa Apochi Ikwue, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is adjudged by many as the authentic winner of the Okpokwu Assembly election. Theresa was on her way to victory with over 2700 votes margin before elections from 21 polling units were cancelled. The cancellation led to a rerun of the March 9th elections on 23rd March 2019.
At the Tribunal on Thursday, Anthony was caught in the web when he accepted submitting three different date(s) of birth to the Benue State University, his alumni; Benue State Local Government Service Commission (BSLGSC), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In his response to the petition earlier, Mr. Agom submitted via affidavits that he was born on August 25th, 1976 as indicated in the INEC forms whereas the date of birth on his NYSC discharge letter indicated that he was born on August 25th, 1977. Earlier, in the NYSC forms uploaded for mobilisation of the batch A of the 2011 Corp members, Mr. Anthony claimed August 25th, 1979. However, he could not be mobilized for the NYSC after Benue State University forwarded a 1977 date of birth documents to the NYSC.
When asked by Counsel to Hon. Theresa if he resigned his appointment with Okpokwu Local Government before the election, as stipulated by the law; he said he took his last salary from the local government in August, 2013, and resigned on 2nd September, 2013, and gained employment with Social Trust Fund in October, 2013. This submission was however countered by representative of the Benue State Local Government Service Commission (BSLGSC), who tendered documents wherein Anthony Agom received monthly salaries from the commission up to May, 2019, and also acknowledged his last promotion from grade level 6 to level 9, which was communicated to him on April 9th, 2019. The Commission’s representative said they have not received any resignation letter from the honourable defendant. This means ‘honourable’ Anthony Agom was/is collecting salaries simultaneously from the local government and the Social Trust Fund even after the March 2019 elections. Meanwhile, in his response to the petition, he denied ever working with the Local Government.
When asked if he agreed with the content of the NYSC discharge letter and has been using it to search for jobs since 2011, he answered in the affirmative. However, when informed that the date on the NYSC discharge letter was different from the date on his INEC forms and his voter’s card as submitted to electoral umpire and the Court, he said he had no idea of the mix up.
Representative of the Benue State University also told Court that at the time Agom got admission into the University, his file contained 25th August, 1977 as his date of birth.
His star witness, Dr. Simon Ameh Ejembi, from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, who served as INEC returning officer for the election said he did not visit any polling units of the 21 units that elections were cancelled. He however said they were reports of irregularities and violence at the said polling units which prompted his decision to cancel the elections.
When asked if he had any report from his ward returning officers or any evidence of the said violence, Dr. Simon Ameh said he was not at Okpokwu and had no evidence that the electiony were marred with violence, accepting that his decision to cancel the elections was based on “hearsay”.
On the issue of his primary school certificate, Tony submitted an affidavit bearing LGEA Primary School but uploaded RCM, Ede Okpoga, First School Leaving Testimonial. When informed that the said school lasted only one year, between 1969 and 1970, many years before he was born, he said he lost his first issued certificate and was re-issued the new one when he approached the LGEA school in 2013.
It could be recalled that Hon. Anthony Agom is still seriously under investigation by the ICPC for double salary fraud with the petitioners threatening to organize a mass protest to the ICPC headquarters in Abuja over what they described as the slow process of prosecution by the anti-graft body in Makurdi. A high power reminder letter has been dispatched to the ICPC chairman to complain about the handling of the matter by the Makurdi office with the chairman promising to take over the matter in order to prevent mass protect and public disturbance!