INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday in Abuja issued Certificate of Return to Mr. Uchechukwu Ogah as the elected governor of Abia State, in obedience to an Abuja Federal High Court order. This is as another High Court in Osisioma in Abia barred the state chief judge from administering oath of office on Ogah until the determination of motion on notice filed before it. The Federal High Court judge, Justice Okon Abang gave the order on declaring Ogah winner of the April 2015 governorship election in Abia State on Monday, when he delivered a judgment in a case instituted by Ogah, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. While addressing the press at a national stakeholders forum on outstanding re-run elections in Abuja,
INEC national commissioner for the South-East, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku disclosed this. According to Nwuruku, “We are simply obeying the court order. The court ruled that with immediate effect INEC should issue the certificate; if tomorrow another court overrules, as the South-East national commissioner I will do the same thing. “I am not above the law; the court said we should give the certificate to who won, and that is Dr. Uchechukwu Ogar, which I did because we cannot do otherwise as we are not above the law; and I’m not ready to go to jail for anybody. After the court another person we obey is God and my conscience is my God.” Asked if INEC was aware that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had already appealed the said judgement, Nwuruku said that the commission obeyed the judgement. “Our own is to obey the judgment
on ground; if by tomorrow the court says give it to another person, then the INEC chairman will obey by signing another certificate and I will issue it.” Ogah had accused Ikpeazu of submitting false information in his tax clearance certificate to the party during the governorship primaries in the state, prompting the court to order Gov. Ikpeazu to vacate his office immediately. Meanwhile, the embattled Governor Ikpeazu has reacted to the issuance of the certificate to Dr. Ogah by INEC as governor of Abia State. According to a press statement he personally signed yesterday, he said INEC carried out the issuance “despite a notice of appeal and motion on stay of the orders made by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.” He added that, “Our laws are clear on this matter. No one may be issued with a certificate of return let alone be sworn-in as governor when there is a subsisting appeal and application for stay. “I want to appeal to Abians to remain calm and law abiding in the face of this provocation; unless and until the appellant courts have conclusively resolve the appeal, the status remains; I am still the Governor of Abia State.” However, the situation took a dramatic turn as a high court sitting in Osisioma, Abia State, presided by Justice C.H Ahucahogu restrained the chief judge of the state from swearing Ogah in while ordering status quo to be maintained until the determination of motion on notice. The court also issued an injunction restraining the INEC from issuing a certificate of return to Ogah. Justice Ahuchaogu in granting the order relied on section 143 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).


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