Obiezu Nwachukwu, an Enugu-based lawyer has challenged a cooperative society agitating for the election of a President from the South East in 2023 in an Enugu State High court.
The group, South-East for President, 2023, (SEFORP2023) multi-purpose Cooperative society, led by Okechukwu Obioha, was also accused of defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians.
In a suit filed on October 9 by Mr Nwachukwu’s lawyer, Okoro Nkem, the state commissioner for human capital development and poverty reduction in Enugu State, the Director of Cooperative Societies, SEFORP 2023 multi-purpose Cooperative Society and Okechukwu Obioha were listed as first, second, third and fourth defendants respectively.
In the writ of summons made available to POLITICS NIGERIA, the lawyer stated that despite the registration of the organisation as a cooperative society, Mr Obioha has continued to use the platform to organize political conferences, canvassing for the election of a southeast president in 2023.
“That I know as a matter of fact, that the 4th Defendant using the 3rd Defendant has been sending text messages of proposed conferences and sending out account numbers of the 3rd Defendant with First Bank, soliciting for funds from unsuspecting members of the public. Copies of the messages sent out by the 4th Defendant using the 4th Defendant are attached herewith as Exhibit 4.
“That I know that the First Bank account with account number 2034516784, belonging to SEFORP2023 MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD, has consistently been used for soliciting funds for political purposes by the 4th Defendant.”
This, according to the claimant, is against the byelaws of the organisation and the provisions of the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act.
The claimant also asked the court to determine whether the provisions of the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act and the bye-laws of the cooperative society empower it to engage in political activities, with respect to the declaration of Southeast for the presidency in 2023.
“Whether the engagement and participation in political activities by the 3rd Defendant is not against the intents and purposes of the creation and or registration of the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society by virtue of the combined provisions of sections 2(1A&B),5(1),6(1A),11(2) and 57 of the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act.
“Whether by virtue of the registration of the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society in Enugu, and the limited number of the members of the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society as contained in its registration forms, the 3rd Defendant has the legal capacity and or can lawfully engage, undertake or organize political rallies, political conferences, for the southeast presidency in 2023 for the benefit of all the southeast indigenes.
“Whether given the engagement in political activities contrary to the provisions of the Cooperative Societies Act, and the bye-laws of the 3rd Defendant, the 1st and 2nd Defendants, are not empowered to cancel the registration of the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society.
“Whether having registered the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society, under the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act, the 4th Defendant can lawfully use the registered name, in any form, for any political purposes.”
Meanwhile, Mr Nwachuckwu obliged the Court to make a declaration that the conducts of Mr Obioha and activities of the society is in contravention of the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act.
Also, he begged the court to affirm that the cooperative society has no vires, powers or legal standing whatsoever, to meddle into politics in Enugu or Nigeria as a whole, as it affects the southeast presidency in 2023.
“That by virtue of the registration of the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society in Enugu, and by virtue of the bye laws of the 3rd Defendant, the 3rd Defendant is limited only to advocate for the welfare of its members alone, as it has no legal capacity to advocate for the southeast presidency in 2023 for all the indigenes of the southeast states of Nigeria.
“That by virtue of the registration of the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society in Enugu, and by virtue of the bye laws of the 3rd Defendant, and the fact that the entire indigenes of southeast region , are not members of the 3rd Defendant, the 3rd Defendant as a cooperative society, has no legal capacity, to convene, invite, organize in any form whatsoever, political meetings,conferences or movements, for the realization of the southeast presidency in 2023, for all the indigenes of the southeast states of Nigeria.”
The lawyer is also seeking an injunction restraining the group from participating in any form or manner, in any political activities in Enugu or Nigeria as a whole, for the southeast presidency in 2023.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd Defendant, whether by itself, agents, servants, employees, members or howsoever and by whatever name called, by virtue of its registration as a cooperative society, under the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act, from convening any political meetings or any meetings whatsoever for the discussion or deliberations as it affects the southeast indigenes and the southeast presidency in 2023.
“A declaration by this honourable court, that all meetings, conferences, decisions, communiques, reached or taken by virtue of meetings convened by the 3rd Defendant, a registered cooperative society, under the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act, as it affects southeast indigenes, with respect to southeast presidency in 2023, are illegal, unconstitutional, unlawful, ultra vires the powers of the 3rd Defendant, void and of no effect whatsoever.
“An order of this honourable court, nullifying and invalidating every and all steps taken, decisions reached, by virtue of any meetings, conferences, or seminars convened by the 3rd Defendant, with respect to the discussions, decisions or agreements as it affects the southeast presidency in 2023,” the court documents read.
We are justified — group leader
Reacting to the court process filed, Mr Obioha said although he is yet to be served, the activities of the group is justified.
“Somebody talking about cooperative society talking about politics… We are not a political party. What we are talking about is that by 2023, a South Easterner should be the President of the federal Republic of Nigeria. We are not interested in breaking Nigeria.”
“They are just ignorant. Section 3 of the Cooperative Society Act allows people to come together for the common good of themselves to take care of social, economic needs and etc. That includes politics. And you tell me I cannot discuss it. Nigeria is nose-diving,” he said in an interview with POLITICS NIGERIA.
He also complained that the Eastern region is being marginalised under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
All efforts to get the reaction of the state Ministry of Human Capital Development and poverty reduction proved abortive as Uchenna Ogbodo, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Human Capital development refused comments when this paper contacted him.
“I cannot attend to such matters on the phone,” he repeatedly told our reporter.