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Professor Maurice Iwu, former chairman of the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has of recent been in the news for the wrong reasons. His trouble began sometimes in January 2024 when, at a meeting of the Imo Elders Council of which he a prominent members, he referred to another distinguished son of Imo state, Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie, as a “rascal”. Iwu was contributing to a debate over what to do with a request by the Orlu Political Consultative Forum (OPOCA) that candidates of Okigwe and Owerri zone extractions at the November 11, 2023 governorship election should withdraw their petition against the re-election of Governor Hope Uzodimma in order to foster a more friendly atmosphere for the pursuit of the lofty ideals of the Imo Charter of Equity.

The video went viral and not unexpectedly, some groups and individuals descended on the professor. One group, the Orlu Progressives Forum (OPF) gave him an ultimatum to tender an apology to both Professor Awuzie and the entire people of Orlu zone. Professor Iwu is yet to do that but at the last count, it does not appear that his traducers are willing to let him off the hook any time soon.

As expected also, Iwu has tried to put up some resistance but it has been mostly knee jerk. His resort to recruiting faceless groups to defend him through the media further compounded his problem essentially because, aside that the groups were faceless, they couched their responses in very pedestrian language, prompting many to ask: Is this all that a professor can offer? It is possible, therefore, that Iwu might have seen an opportunity to prove that he is, indeed, a man of letters, through a recent article by Mike Nwachukwu, a well known politician in the state.

Nwachukwu’s article, entitled, “THE IMO CHARTER OF EQUITY, 2027 OWERRI AND OKIGWE ZONE: WHICH WAY TO GO”, was a long voyage into the issue of power sharing in Imo state since the beginning of the current dispendation (4th Republic) in 1999. This write-up is not an appraisal or review of that of Nwachukwu but it is necessary to recount some of the points he raised and which might have prompted the response from Professor Iwu. Among other things, Nwachukwu brought the following to the fore.


Nwachukwu gave a run-down of events surrounding the 2007 governorship election which was first held on April 14, 2007 but was cancelled and rescheduled for April 28, 2007. The highlights of Nwachukwu’s treatise on this were:

· That the then ruling party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), adopted Martin Agbaso, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as its own candidate following the rejection of the former of the Supreme Court ruling declaring Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the authentic candidate of the PDP.

· That on the first ballot on April 14, 2007, “the combined votes of APGA faithful and PDP gave Agbaso an overwhelming victory at the polls…”

· That while it was being waited for Agbaso to be declared winner, “INEC, then led by … Professor Iwu from Okigwe zone, brought down the hammer and declared the election inconclusive and another one slated for April 28 and at which the PDP shifted its support to Ohakim.

· That had the April 14 election had not be annulled, Agbaso would have served as governor on behalf of Owerri zone in the “true spirit” of the Imo Charter of Equity.

· That by that single act, the Imo Charter of Equity “was scuttled by one man – Professor Maurice Iwu – whose desire to see an Okigwe zone fellow become governor led him to use his instrument of office as INEC chairman, and with the concurrence of the then president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to annul a perfectly conducted election that was won by Chief Martin Agbaso of APGA”

· That Iwu, thereby took advantage of his office and secured the governorship seat for his kinsmen – nde Okigwe zone who “rallied around their own”


The second issue Nwachukwu raised that must have also informed Iwu’s response occurred four years later, before, during and after the 2011 governorship election. The highlights of Nwachuwku’s assertions were:

· That Governor Ohakim who had been in office after winning the rescheduled April 28 2007 election was muscled out of office with “the active support of the Catholic Community in Owerri Archdiocese which had accused Governor Ikedi Ohakim of flogging a Catholic Reverend Father – Rev. Fr. Eustace Okere.

· That “the negative momentum arising from that accusation led to a groundswell of opposition to Governor Ikedi Ohakim from Nde Owerri zone which literally hounded him out of office”

· That part of the reasons Governor Ohakim was hounded was “a couple of unforced errors he had made in PDP’s nomination process for various offices such as Owerri Zone Senatorial candidacy, Aboh-Mbaise/Ngor Okpala House of Representatives candidacy, Owerri federal constituency candidacy and the OWerri North House of Assembly candidacy.

· That the above “led to an internal revolt by a good chunck of Owerri zone leaders of the party who joined forces with the rampaging APGA mass movement and the full weight of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri to oust him from office”.


As earlier stated, this is not a rejoinder to Nwachukwu’s write but looking at its totality, the two major areas highlighted above are those that affected Professor Iwu directly and formed the Kernel of his response.

A. On the Annulment of the April 14, 2007 Governorship Election, Iwu Responded As Follows:

· That the suspension of voting at the 2007 Imo state governorship election on April 14, 2007 was due to the dispute regarding the PDP governorship candidate…

· That “the supreme court had declared Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as the authentic PDP candidate against Engr. Charles Uwgu whose name was on the ballot paper”.

· That “the apex court’s judgment was delivered a few days to the election which made it impossible for INEC to put Senator Ararume’s name on the ballot”

· That “the leadership of INEC had advised the party to allow the election to hold with the names as contained on the ballot and that the correct name will be reflected at the election results declared in the event of the party’s victory at the election”

· That “during the 14/04/2007 poll, some overzealous individuals disrupted the gubernatorial election by attempting to change the names on the ballot papers which led to mutilations on the ballot papaers and violence in some polling units”

· That “the decision to suspend the gubernatorial election was taken by the Resident Electoral Commissioner based on his assessment of the situation in accordance with the provisions of the 2006 Electoral Act, which I endorsed”

· That “prior to the completion of polling and before the tabulation of results, the REC, the EO and the ward-level electoral officials had the authority to suspend polling within their level’s of authority if in their assessment the integrity of the election was jeopardized by violence or other disruptions”

· That “there was no tabulation of results even at the polling units; therefore no discernable winner would have been possible”.

B. On Agbaso’s Victory, Iwu Responded As Follows:

“On the purported victory of Chief Martin Agbaso at the Imo gubernatorial election of 14/04/2007, the writer of the piece under reference was aware that Chief Martin Agbaso was not officially a candidate of APGA at that election according to the judgement of a Supreme Court and therefore could not have won an election which he never contested by law”

C. On The Factors That Led To “Ohakim’s Ouster”, Iwu Submitted As Follows:

· “Mr. Nwachukwu gave a wrong narrative. The altercation between Governor Ohakim’s entourage and a certain Catholic priest may have contributed to his defeat at the election but the Catholic Church did not take any official position against H.E. Ohakim during the election”

· That Nwachukwu “ignored the POLITICAL ELITE OPPOSITION to Governor Ohakim as one of the factors that led to Ohakim loss at the election.

D. On The Chatter Of Equity Iwu Submitted As Follows:

· “…it is my understanding that certain individuals have already constituted their 2027 campaign teams and have identified me for vilification and attacks for MOVING THE MOTION at the Imo Council of Elders” meeting that BIRTHED the Charter of Equity. May I assure such political action committees that I acted in the interest of Imo state and without any adverse intention against anybody’s political ambition…”


  1. Charter of Equity:

Iwu’s claim that he moved the motion that “BIRTHED the Charter of Equity is completely false. The word, “Birthed”, according to the Advanced Learners Dictionary, connotes “the process of being born; the “beginning of a situation, idea, place etc”. The Imo Charter of Equity was birthed in 1998 when Iwu was still abroad. The Imo Charter of Equity is not the original idea of the current Imo Elders Council of which Iwu is a key member. It has been pointed out by some well meaning members of the Imo society that the failure to put the Imo Charter of Equity in its proper historical perspective may mitigate against the current attempt to resuscitate it. Apparently, we are beginning to witness that. We request Professor Maurice Iwu to repudiate that claim of being the first person to come up with the idea of Charter of Equity as that amounts to an attempt to rewrite the history of Imo state.

  1. The Catholic Church and Ohakim’s Ouster:

Professor Iwu’s claim that the catholic church “did not take any official position against His Excellency Ohakim “during the 2011 governorship election” is also false. It is not a hidden matter that the clergy in the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri mobilized the faithfull against Ohakim; to the extent that on the election day, Catholic priests were seen at polling units directing Catholics whom to vote for. The then Arch Bishop of the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, the Most Reverend Anthony J.V. Obinna, turned down all entreaties by Ohakim and several other well meaning indiegenes of the state to come to him for an apology over the alleged brawl between Rev. Fr. Okorie and some members of Governor Ohakim’s security detail. The Archdiocese organized a Black Mass during which both the clergy and laity wore black apparels and matched through the major roads in Owerri. What could be more official than that? Agreed, Iwu is a devout Catholic but on this matter, he cannot be more catholic than the Pope. Even Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, who was recruited from far away Enugu state, had to confess two years later to Ndi Imo and Ohakim that he was deceived into joining that fight by the Catholic church in Owerri against the governor. The video of his confession is still trending on YouTube.

  1. On Political Elite Opposition To Ohakim

· As a political phenomenon, opposition is not a new thing and even the best of political actors face opposition. Apart from the over 23 court cases arising from petitions against his election, Ohakim had very few political opponents in the real sense of it. It is on record that he had the support of heavy weights like Arthur Nzeribe, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Ozichukwu Chukwu, Emeka Ihedioha, George Obiozor, Innocent Nwoga (the first chairman of Imo PDP),Charls Amadi, Kema Chikwe, Lemmy Akaken, Eddy Onuoha, Hope Uzodimma, Tony Chukwu and a host of others. So, who were the political elite Iwu was referring to. Even so, Iwu should have been bold enough to admit that he was part of that opposition just as he accused “Owerri politicians (including Mike Nwachukwu)”… It is not a hidden matter that Iwu played a prominent role in the truncation of the April 26, 2011 governorship election by employing his connections as immediate past INEC chairman to cause the stoppage of collation of results and which led to the declaration of the entire election “inconclusive” and ultimately to the so-called supplementary election of May 6, 2011.

· A book written by an active participant observer during that sage (names withheld) gave a graphic detail of the role played by Professor Iwu. The author of the book narrates that before the suspension of collation by the INEC Returning Officer, Professor Enoch Akobundu, the latter had refused to announce the results from the Oguta-Ohaji local government area. He had told the audience that he had received a report from the LGA collation office in the area and that the report showed that election did not take place in some polling units in the area and “to the surprise of all, Akobundu did not announce any result with respect of Ohaji-Egbema”

· The book went ahead to reveal on page 55 that “but before that, a very intriguing incident had taken place. The INEC collation officer for Ohaji-Egbema, one Mr. Valentine Nwoke, had been sitting right before Akobundu waiting to deliver the results from the LGA to him. Mr. Nwoke had earlier been brought in by some armed soldiers who, according to what Nwoke revealed later in an Affidavit, had volunteered to take him to the Returning Officer after he had identified himself at the gate.

Akobundu had, on sighting Nwoke, directed him to go and wait for his turn. Almost immediately, Akobundu announced a ten-minute break just as the soldiers who had earlier brought in Nwoke reappeared and led him to a room. … The soldiers ordered Nwoke to remain there until they returned to fetch him. Thereafter the soldiers, according to Nwoke, closed the door behind, leaving him alone. A written confession by an ACN chieftain (names withheld) revealed that Nwoke was later brought out from the room and driven to Onitsha, under military escort, and quarantined in Bolingo hotel. The ACN stalwart also stated that he was the fellow who arranged the movement of Nwoke to Onitsha. While Nwoke was way, Professor Akobundu returned after more than one hour and began to shout, “Where is the Ohaji-Egbema Returning Officer? Where is the Ohaji-Egbema Returning Officer? Where is he? He is not around?”. Then Akobundu, according to the book, proceeded to declare the result of the Ohaji-Egbema inconclusive.

· Then just in the next page (56) of the book under the same chapter titled “The Drama Begins” came the clincher:

“A later revelation by an ACN source gave the reason why Akobundu refused to announce the result of Ohaji-Egbema LGA. According to the source, the two leaders of ACN, Udenwa and Ararume, had already alerted Professor Maurice Iwu to the effect that Ohakim was bound to win re-election if the result of Ohaji-Egbema was declared. Iwu was said to have promptly reached out to one of the top shots at the INEC headquarters in Abuja who in turn instructed Akobundu to withhold the results of Ohaji-Egbema…. As a matter of fact, eye witnesses at the state collation centre that morning confirmed that Akobundu received a telephone call and that it was after that, that he announced a thirty-minute break…”

· We have made contact with the author of the book under reference and he told us that to the best of his knowledge, none of the three people mentioned – Udenwa, Araraume and Iwu – has refuted the story more than ten years after the book was published. Even from accounts from other sources, the number of votes from Ohaji-Egbema was over 28,000. Just before the April 26 election was declared inconclusive, Ohakim had garnered a total of 310,106 votes as against Rocha’s 305,263 and that Ohakim had scored at least 25 per cent in 22 local government areas, four above the statutorily required minimum of 18.


Let by-gone be by-gone but we decided to re-narrate the above story in order to underscore our assertion that Professor Iwu ought to have been man enough to admit that he was part of the “elite opposition” he was referring to in his response to Nwachukwu. That would have enabled him to tell the readers the reason for the so-called opposition. Was the so-called oppositions due to reasons that were personal between them (him) and Ohakim or for reasons of the latter’s performance? However, since both Nwachukwu and Iwu were trying to set the records straight, they should have gone the whole hog to pin point vital issues that would be helpful in the current debate over the all-important Charter of Equity which Iwu and others are championing today. From everything that has been said and written in the last twelve years after the 2011 Imo governorship election, it is wrong to put the blame of why the Charter of Equity collapsed squarely on the door steps of “Owerri leaders” alone as Iwu did in his rejoinder to Nwachukwu’s write-up, regardless of the fact that a few elements in the zone traded and sold the APGA governorship ticket to Rochas Okorocha, an Orlu fellow.

It may be true that Iwu and others who played similar roles like him have become repentant but like is required of anybody who repents of his sins, confession is necessary. Now that the good people of Imo state are trying to reinvent themselves through the Charter of Equity, it is pertinent that all those who contributed to its collapse in 2011 should show open and unreserved remorse; not the type of grand standing coming from Professor Maurice Iwu and his ilk. Signed. Uzoma Nwachukwu. NATIONAL COORDINATOR. Paschal Nnodi. STATE COORDINATOR


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