advocacy and socio-political group known as the South East Progressives Assembly, SEPA, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to at the wake of a Federal High Court ruling in Owerri affirming Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as the governor of Abia State, withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to Dr. Uche Ogah.
In a press statement signed by the President of the group, Ebere Uzoukwa, it said that the continued parading of the Certificate of Return by Uche Ogah amounts to grave illegality, especially owing to the ruling of the Owerri Federal High Court and the pendency of the appeal of Governor Ikpeazu at the Court of Appeal.
SEPA also argues that the successful entering of Gov. Ikpeazu’s appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja which legally seized the jurisdiction of Justice Okon Abang’s High Court, has automatically neutralised and rendered invalid the Certificate of Return Ogah parades.
“After a critical review of recent developments in the polity as regards Abia State on the renewed governorship tussle, the South East Progressives Assembly, SEPA, wishes to implore the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to align with the judiciary and withdraw without further delay the Certificate of Return unlawfully issued to Uche Ogah.
“SEPA upholds the standpoint that Friday July 8 judgment of Owerri Federal High Court presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa, which dismissed Friday Nwosu’s tax forgery suit, affirming Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State and the successful entering of the governor’s appeal, which instantly seized the jurisdiction of Justice Okon Abang’s Abuja Federal High Court on the case, have reasonably neutralised and rendered invalid the Certificate of Return Ogah currently parades.
“A situation where Ogah brandishes INEC Certificate of Return while the Court of Appeal is yet to decide on the appeal emanating from his suit, makes huge mockery of the judiciary and democracy in Nigeria.
“Notably, Certificate of Return is neither given in advance nor by mere anticipation on a pending case. We have expected INEC to be properly guided by this process of court and reverse itself to further restore normalcy and calm in Abia State.
“There is no provision whatsoever in the Constitution and or Electoral Act that justifies the Certificate of Return Ogah parades, especially as Ikpeazu’s appeal has legally activated the ‘status quo’ that must be maintained under the law pending the determination of the case by the Court of Appeal. It becomes more worrisome and appalling considering that the said tax matter has a jurisdiction to the Supreme Court and shall be determined by the apex court to either affirm Ikpeazu as governor or otherwise.
“Is it legally right that Ogah continues to parade the said Certificate of Return till the Supreme Court finally decides the case? What happens if Supreme Court upholds Ikpeazu’s governorship? What will also happen to INEC that clearly operates within the law if Justice Okon Abang’s judgment is finally set aside by the Supreme Court? Does it mean that relevant authorities and stakeholders can’t call INEC to order in the face of the ongoing impunity in Abia?
“It is in view of the foregoing that SEPA calls on well-meaning Nigerians and lovers of democracy to rise against INEC’s impunity and lawlessness in defense of our democracy,” the group said.


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