FACT CHECK: Is Anthony, NHRC nominee, Ojukwu’s son?

FACT CHECK: Is Anthony, NHRC nominee, Ojukwu’s son?

Who is Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu, the newly nominated executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?

Your first guess is that he is the son of Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, the leader of the Biafran army that unsuccessfully tried to secede from Nigeria in 1967. That is the most popular Ojukwu in Nigeria, after all.

And the next comment is: finally, President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to appease the Igbo after accusations of marginalisation. Who else to pick than the son of the Eze Igbo Gburugburu, the ultimate hero of an ethnic nationality’s struggle for self-determination?

It will not only douse the tension — which has ballooned the profile of the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) — but also indicate that Buhari has scored another goal in bringing the south-east into his fold.

But there is already the predictable hot exchange on the internet over the appointment. Many said “too little, too late”, some said “why not a juicy appointment” and many others said “now Buhari is serious about winning over the Igbo”.

One commentator said: “No wonder, he defected to APC.” This was a mistaken reference to Emeka Ojukwu Jnr, who left APGA on the eve of the November 2017 governorship election in Anambra.

Another said: “But he couldn’t deliver his local government.” Again, a mistaken reference.

Sections of the media even reported that Ojukwu’s son has been appointed the ES of NHRC. Well, he is Ojukwu’s son by any means. But which Ojukwu?

TheCable can reveal that Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu is from Mbaise in Imo state. Eze Igbo Gburugburu is from Nnewi, Anambra state. That should settle the score.

DELAYED NOMINATION

Ojukwu is a currently a director in charge of monitoring at NHRC.

An insider told TheCable: “The appointment was actually approved, when Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was acting president, on the recommendation of Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general. Osinbajo was initially reluctant for reasons of internal organisational dynamics.

“The argument then was that they needed to designate an ES from the staff of the commission and that they needed to redress ‘marginalisation’ of the south-east.

“So they proposed the most senior member of staff from the zone. However, Ojukwu is junior to the current acting ES, Mrs Oti Ovrawah. He is also junior to another director.

“When he was designated, they wanted him to start acting immeidately. The then acting secretary to the government of the federation said he could not act when he was not the most senior member of staff. That was what stalled his nomination before Buhari finally decided to present him.”

BRIEF HISTORY

Ojukwu was a legal officer at the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC) when Humphrey Nwosu, a professor, was the chairman in the early 1990s.

At the legal unit, he worked with Bukhari Bello, who was Nwosu’s legal adviser. Bello was was on the original governing council of NHRC and was the second ES of the commission.

He worked as Bello’s right hand man.

Bello is from Kebbi state, like Malami, and is thought to have highly recommended Ojukwu for the job, sources told TheCable.

The Cable