Guber tussle: Confusion in Abia as court stops INEC, judges from swearing-in Ogah …I'm not involved in Abia saga – Gov. Ugwuanyi
The High Court sitting in Osisioma Ngwa Judicial Division, on Thursday, gave an order of injunction restraining the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), the Chief Judge of the state or any other judge from swearing-in Samson Ogah as Abia State Governor.
This comes as the state government called for calm, insisting that Mr. Okezie Ikpeazu remained the Governor of Abia State.
The issuance of a Certificate of Return on Thursday to Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah by INEC in Abuja had complicated the dispute over the governorship seat of Abia State.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had, on Monday, ordered the removal of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Ogah, who was the first runner-up in the state governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Justice Abang had ordered the removal of Ikpeazu after finding him guilty of not presenting relevant tax certificates along with his forms submitted to INEC.
He held that Ikpeazu, who emerged as the candidate of the PDP in the state for the 2015 governorship election on the strength of the primary, was not qualified to be the candidate of the PDP.
INEC Commissioner in charge of the South-East, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku, presented the Certificate of Return to Ogah in Abuja in accordance with the judgment of the court.
Nwuruku told journalists that the court directed the commission to issue the certificate with immediate effect.
He said, 'The situation is we are simply obeying the court order. The court said with immediate effect, we should issue him a Certificate of Return, and that is what we have done.
'If the court tomorrow issues (another) order, we will obey the same. By the grace of God, I am the INEC commissioner in charge of the South-East.
'In this case, the court ordered us to issue certificate to the person who won the election, that is Uchechukwu Ogah. I was the person that issued the same Certificate of Return to Governor Ikpeazu because he was declared the winner.
'One thing is that we are not above the law and we cannot disobey the law of the land.'
A few hours after Ogah collected his Certificate of Return in Abuja, an Abia State High Court in Osisioma stopped the Chief Judge of the state or any other judge in the state from inaugurating Ogah as directed by Justice Abang on Monday.
The presiding judge in the court, Justice C. H. Ahuchaogu, equally made a belated order stopping INEC from issuing a Certificate of Return to Ogah as the winner of the 2015 governorship election in the state.
In a suit, HOS 52/2016, by Ikpeazu, Justice Ahuchaogu ordered 'that the third Defendant (state CJ) or any other judge of the court or any judicial officer are hereby restrained from swearing in the first Defendant (Ogah) while the claimant remains in office in accordance with Section 143(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice.'
The issuance of the Certificate of Return to Ogah and the pronouncement of the Abia State High Court have created confusion on who is the valid governor of the state.
But the Peoples Democratic Party in the state described the order of the Federal High Court in Abuja as a threat to democracy in the country.
Addressing newsmen at Government House on Thursday, the state chairman of the party, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, said the party would resist any attempt by any person or group to undermine the peace in the state.
In a similar vein, Ogah described his success at the Federal High Court, Abuja, as a further vindication of the confidence reposed in the nation's judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
Speaking with newsmen on arrival at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, from Abuja, where he was issued a Certificate of Return on Thursday, Ogah stated that by his eventual success, the people of Abia State would not only enjoy more democratic dividends, but would be accorded equal opportunities in all facets of his government.
Ogah added, 'This is a new dawn in Abia, a fresh air has come to the people. There is joy all over the land. I assure the people of Abia State that this is the beginning of good things for them.'
A few hours later, however, there were reports that some suspected hoodlums had invaded Umuahia, the Abia State capital, following information that Ogah had arrived at the state capital and headed straight for the office of the Department of State Services.
The suspected thugs, who were said to be carrying sticks, were allegedly seen with some security agencies along the Akanu Ibiam Road, leading to the Government House.
Meanwhile, the Enugu State government has dismissed a report making the rounds in the social media that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu to receive Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah on his arrival from Abuja en route Abia State.
The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor, Louis Amoke, stated that Gov. Ugwuanyi was not at Enugu Airport yesterday to receive anybody.
He added that the governor was in his office and not anywhere else discharging official duties.
Amoke therefore urged the public to disregard the said report as it was false and misleading.