72 hours after the shameful crisis that rocked the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Enugu chapter’s election of new state executive council, the returning officer, Dr Agunwa opened up on the events that led to the unfortunate fracas that ensued.
“On 1st August 2020, I was approached by the NMA Chairman, Dr. Ike Okwesili, to head the electoral committee, ELECO, for the election of members of a new state executive council for Enugu chapter; I was to work with 2 other colleagues-Dr Innocent Ugwu and Dr. Omosivie Ugwu,” revealed Agunwa, head of the committee.
On the Election Day at the venue, around 8:10 am, the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, came to seal the venue. Reason gave by an NPF official was that the outgoing chairman Ike Okwesili did not honour an earlier invitation issued by the Commissioner of Police.
On hearing this, Okwesili said that he did not receive any invitation but immediately followed the officials.
Okwesili later returned around 11 am and officials of NPF re-opened the venue. He then asked us to continue with the election.
It is pertinent to note that the ELECO had been provided with voter’s list which comprises of names of members that are financially up to date.
On the list were names of resident doctors from the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, Ituku Ozalla, ESUT-Teaching Hospital Parklane, and some members from the private sector.
However, members of the National Orthopedic Hospital, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu, and some in the private sector not included on the list for non-remittances of dues.
But during the voting process, the president of ARD ESUT-TH Parklane, Dr. Chima Emmanuel Edeoga, approached the ELECO with the complaint that the names of his colleagues at Parklane were omitted on the voter’s list.
Edeoga gave the ELECO a list of 289 voters but on the argument that the seven million naira remitted to the body can only cover 106 members, he had to present the ELECO with another list of 106 members from Parklane.
“In a bid to truly conduct a free and fair election, we concluded that have to work with the voters register given to the committee by the Association since we cannot vouch for the fairness of the compilation of the 106 list by just the President ARD Parklane. In case of any eventuality of protests and petitions which may arise after the election, we may not be able to defend the said lists of financial members hence, ELECO decided not to allow them vote; the list came close to the conclusion of the election,” Agunwa further explained.
This decision was not acceptable to ARD ESUT-TH Parklane who resorted to disruption of the electoral process by destructing the ballot boxes scattering the ballot papers on the ground.
The ELECO however after getting NMA members to vacate the venue, picked the scattered ballot papers and left to Villa Toscana hotel for vote counting pending instruction from the national body on how best to resolve the crisis.
“The process became violent when a group of doctors led by Dr. J.O.T Onyia, an NMA Chairmanship candidate and Resident Doctor with ESUT-TH Parklane, on trying to gain entrance into the hall shattered the glass doors to the hall thus injuring Onyia and some of his cohorts,” Agunwa said.
Agunwa further revealed that on seeing the Onyia led group forcing their way into the hall, Dr. Okwesili luckily escaped through the window but all the collected ballot papers were destroyed by the group.
“The events of August 6th, 2020 are embarrassing and quite regrettable. We seek a peaceful resolution to the challenge thrown up by this unfortunate debacle and look to the leadership of the organization at the national level for advice and support as we seek to restore order and harmony in NMA Enugu State,” the ELECO report signed by Dr. Agunwa, Dr. Innocent Ugwu and Dr. Omosivie Ugwu concluded.