All around the world, elections come with drama. From Hilary Clinton’s leaked emails in 2016 to Newman’s disqualification in 2022, the concept of an October surprise is not new to those who follow American elections. The last election cycle was largely uneventful, with several of the candidates running unopposed. However, this year has been a dizzying experience, with unexpected twists and turns on what seems like a daily basis. In the center of much of the controversy stands the current Health and Sanitation Minister and aspirant for the Office of the Hall Chairperson, Mr Uzor David.

Uzor David has been entrenched in controversy since he announced his candidacy.

Mr Uzor’s current woes began on the 7th of April 2024, when he was accused in an open letter written to the Electoral Commission by a member of the Hall of conniving with another candidate to falsify records of service. Mr Obeya stated he was motivated to write the letter after learning about the events in order to get ahead of a possible cover up. According to the letter, Mr Uzor secretly added a candidate for the Health and Sanitation Minister, Mr Ismail Damilare, to the Health Committee and CHAP committee WhatsApp group chats after the health week, despite Mr Damilare not serving in any of those committees. The letter then went on to accuse Mr Uzor of signing off on Mr Ismail’s claim to have served in those committees; a grave offense if true. The Hall constitution clearly states that any prospective aspirant for an  executive office must have served in the Hall Assembly or in a committee relevant to the office. The constitution also allows for punishment- up to impeachment, of an executive who has engaged in “any action that the Hall Assembly considers to have undermined the integrity of the Hall.”

Until facts and evidence come to light, accusations remain just that. In order to ascertain the veracity of these allegations, ABH Press reached out to all the involved parties looking to answer four questions. Did Mr Uzor add Mr Ismail to the WhatsApp group chats of the committees he claims to have served in, and why? Did Mr Ismail actually serve in these committees? Did Mr Uzor certify that Mr Ismail had served in these committees?

Earlier today, Mr Uzor released a statement wherein he denied that he had engaged in collusion with any aspiring candidates. He claimed his actions had been taken out of context, and that the events so far had been an “unfolding of misunderstandings, exacerbated by rash judgements and unfounded accusations employed for political gain.” 

ABH Press also spoke to Mr Uzor, who vehemently refuted the claims against him. He maintains that Mr Ismail served on the Health Committee, and that his addition to the CHAP WhatsApp group was an honest mistake. Mr Uzor also stated that he only attested to Mr Ismail’s service on the Health Committee, and never claimed that he served on the CHAP committee. Mr Ismail also corroborated this story, claiming he was sent the wrong link. When quizzed on why he joined the WhatsApp group anyway, Mr Ismail insisted it was a mistake and that he exited the group immediately he had a conversation with Mr Uzor.

The question of whether or not Mr Ismail served on the Health Committee proved even dicier. Mr Uzor and Mr Ismail both claim Mr Ismail was an active member of the committee, however Mr Ismail’s name does not appear on the list of committee members submitted to the Hall Assembly at the beginning of the tenure. When pressed on this discrepancy, Mr Uzor claims Mr Ismail joined the committee after the list was sent to the Hall Assembly, and that no supplemental list was sent. Mr Ismail was also not present on the committee’s WhatsApp group chat as he claimed his phone was damaged and he had no active WhatsApp number at the time. He however claimed to be an active member of the committee, and provided pictorial evidence of his presence at activities organized by the committee. According to the Secretary of the Health Committee, Miss Obiorah Chioma, “He did participate in the committee activities, though he wasn’t on the committee group and also to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t present for meetings.” Another member of the committee, Mr Dayo Olatunbosun, also confirmed that Mr Ismail was a participant in activities of the committee. 

Mr Ismail provided pictorial evidence of his participation in Health Committee activities.

It would seem that the Electoral Committee has its work cut out for it this year. Certifying Mr Ismail’s eligibility to run for office will take lengthy deliberations on the letter and spirit of the Hall’s constitution. Whichever way the ham is sliced, there promises to be a disgruntled party. All eyes are now on the Electoral Committee, who have assured Brownites that they are committed to investigating the matter thoroughly and coming to a fair and balanced decision.The Hall Assembly may also have a serious disciplinary issue on its hands. If Mr Uzor is found guilty of trying to falsify records in order to qualify an otherwise ineligible candidate, such a matter cannot be handled with levity. Indeed, the full extent of recommendations of the constitution for such actions have to be considered.

As for Mr Uzor, he can only hope that the storm clouds that have been swirling since he announced his bid for Hall Chairperson prove to be sterile and that the scandals that have surrounded his candidacy come to an end. Mr Uzor is however not new to controversy, as his time in several organizations and offices have been called into question. From suspensions to disciplinary action, this is not his first tango with constitutions and the law. In fact, he was almost deemed ineligible after he was elected to the office of the Health and Sanitation Minister. On the same day the letter came out, it also came out that Mr Uzor had been suspended as the President of the UCH Students Association (USA), alongside the Financial Secretary, Mr Nnamdi Chikere and the Social Secretary, Miss Titofarati Yusuf for misappropriating funds. While he claims the suspension was politically motivated and unjustified- and Mr Chikere agrees, we await the SRC of USA to further expound upon the facts. When reached for comment, the Speaker of the SRC- Honorable Omotayo Goodluck, declined, insisting the matter was not within the purview of ABH Press. He did not state whose purview clarifying the matter was, as USA has no press organization. 

Politically motivated or of his own making, the candidate for the office of the Hall Chairperson has been embroiled in a fair deal of controversy. It is however important for members of regulatory committees and indeed all student bodies to remember that shady political dealings undermine trust in institutions, making them ineffective and leaving us all worse off. This writer does not seek to take a stand on the events of the past few days, but rather to shed a little more light on the situation. It is impertinent that the concerned committees and bodies impartially and critically examine the issues and ensure transparency and accountability at every turn. It is also up to Brownites to avoid sensationalism and objectively evaluate claims in order to come to rational conclusions. 

Election season around the world comes with drama, accusations and counter accusations. While it is easy to get carried away by the narratives and politicking, it is important for the electorate and politicians to remember that the good of the entity trumps everything else. That said, this race might just be mighty entertaining, and those only interested in chaos may have a lot to look forward to. 

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