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Cablegate: Nigeria: Enugu Governor's Election Nullified For

VZCZCXRO8863
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0018 0231200
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231200Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9688
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9425
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 0169
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS LAGOS 000018

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
TREASURY FOR DPETERS, RHALL, RABDULRAZAK
ENERGY FOR PERSON, GAY
COMMERCE FOR KBURRESS
STATE PASS USTR FOR LISER, AGAMA
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION FOR KSAMPLE
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN, MSTUCKART, JEDWARDS
STATE PASS TDA FOR EEBONG, DSHUSTER
STATE PASS EXIM FOR JRICHTER
STATE PASS USAID FOR NFREEMAN, GBERTOLIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: ENUGU GOVERNOR'S ELECTION NULLIFIED FOR
ELECTORAL LAW NON-COMPLIANCE

1. (U) Summary: The Enugu State Election Tribunal annulled
the April election of Governor Sullivan Chime (People's
Democratic Party) on January 18 on the grounds of gross
electoral malpractice and non-compliance with the Electoral
Act. Former Chime godfather Governor Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP)
who broke with Chime over Chime's failure to accept his
nominees at the state and local levels, has accused Chime of
engaging in anti-party activities; Chime will appear before a
PDP panel on January 22. Nnamani's faction will likely fight
Chime's bid in a second election; however, Chime reportedly
gained much popularity as governor and may win the popular
vote in a second election, according to civil society
contacts in Enugu. End Summary.

2. (U) The Enugu State Election Tribunal annulled the April
election of Governor Sullivan Chime (People's Democratic
Party) on January 18 on the grounds of gross electoral
malpractice and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
Justice Samuel Otta delivered the ruling and was quoted in
the local press as saying "non-compliance got to the
foundation of the whole process of election and rendered the
whole exercise null and void." The court ordered a new
election within 90 days, according to press reports.

3. (SBU) Enugu-based civil society contacts admitted to the
Consul General and PolSpec on January 21 that the April 2007
elections never occurred in most areas of the state and
voting figures were simply manufactured. Nonetheless, our
contacts said Chime had endeared himself to the populous
through public works such as road maintenance. They also
predicted Chime would likely win the popular vote in a
re-election. (Comment: According to PolSpec's observations,
road repairs and other public works projects were not readily
apparent on the roads traveled during the Consul Generals's
ongoing trip; he did confirm that conversations with locals
revealed strong popular support for Chime. End Comment.) The
civil society representatives predicted there would be two
PDP factions contending during the second election: that of
Chime and that of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP).
Chime, who had Nnamani's support during the campaign,
rejected his godfather's proposed appointees and promoted his
own followers in the state's local government elections.

4. (SBU) According to an Enugu-based lawyer and Dean of Enugu
State University School of Law, Chime is scheduled to appear
before a PDP panel in Abuja on January 22 to answer Nnamani's
allegations that Chime was involved in anti-party activities
such as supporting non-PDP individuals. While Nnamani
appears to be trying to disqualify Chime from party
membership, Chime could continue as governor for up to six
months. Chime is expected to appeal the Tribunal's
nullification, which would take between three and four
months, and the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) has three months to hold new elections. Contacts
predicted violence could follow a second round of elections
no matter the victor.

5. (SBU) Comment: While it may be too early to speculate on
the outcome of a second election, it appears Chime will face
a stiff battle to maintain PDP party membership and the
governorship. While it is a positive sign for Nigeria's
nascent democracy that yet another less than perfect election
has been overturned, and in this case (for the first time) on
the basis of electoral malpractice and non-compliance with
the Electoral Act, we question whether a second election can
be accomplished without the same abuses. In addition, there
is a real prospect of significant violence in such a rerun,
given Nigeria's imperfect political process. End Comment.
BLAIR

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