Evan, not Evan(s): How Nigeria’s former Senate President lost his seat because of letter ‘s’

By Balogun Kamilu Lekan

In Nigeria’s political arena, one should expect the unexpected. It has been a sphere of different happenings; some you can comprehend, and some you just can’t fathom.

When Nigeria ushered in a new democratic government in the fourth republic in 1999, the first elected president of the upper chamber, Senator Evan(s) Enwerem, was impeached for the most frivolous but reasonable reason.

Senator Enwerem was axed by the investigating committee for falsifying his documents, which had his name as Evans, not Evan.

The supposedly little thing was exaggerated to become a major political scandal. 

Enwerem was chosen to represent the Imo-East Senatorial Zone in the Nigerian Senate in 1999.

President Olusegun Obasanjo anointed Enwerem as his choice to rule the upper chamber over Senator Chuba Okadigbo, a major contender.

Enwerem comfortably defeated Okadigbo with 66 votes to Okadigbo’s 43 votes. Obasanjo’s allies in the ruling party supported Enwerem.

Enwerem, however, was not prepared for a short-lived tenure until the issue of his name erupted which ended up dashing his dream of presiding over the red chamber till the end of his tenure.

It all began with a TELL magazine article that was published in Lagos in August 1999. It claimed that Enwerem had falsified his name and personal data. However, Enwarem claimed this to be a mere typographical error and shouldn’t be given distractive attention.

A Senate committee was formed to look into the issue after he was later charged with corruption. 

The question of whether his name was Evan or Evans was hotly contested during this time, with Okadigbo allies arguing that he had feigned his age and name on purpose “for a dubious gain.”

According to reports, Okadigbo’s supporters gathered signatures to oust Enwerem as Senate president while he was away.

Senator Enwerem was only five months old when he was impeached and finally removed as the leader of the chamber, but remained a floor member of the house till the end of his tenure in 2003.

Okadigbo, who like Enwerem was a senator from Anambra, succeeded him as the Senate president.

But nemesis caught up with Okadigbo when he came under suspicion for corruption as well.

In 2000, Okadigbo was also impeached and removed as the senate president. But he also, like his predecessor, remained a floor member in the Senate.

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