Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 6 January 2016 | 3,583 times
The Abia State Government and the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have warned that any attempt to swear in Dr Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) before the Supreme Court rules on the actual winner of the 2015 governorship contest would be an invitation to anarchy.
They issued the warning in their separate reactions to the ruling of Appeal Court, Owerri Division, which nullified the election of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of PDP and declared Otti winner with an order that he be sworn in as Abia governor.
Following the verdict, Abia was awash with strong rumours that Otti would be sworn in yesterday since the ceremony failed to hold last Monday when it was speculated that it would hold. The speculation was fuelled by a statement credited to APGA National Chairman, Chief Ike Oye, that his party was awaiting Otti’s swearing-in.
But in a statement in Umuahia, the Attorney General of Abia State, Chief Umeh Kalu, said that despite the Appeal Court ruling, “Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu still remains the Governor of Abia State, pending the exercise of his right of appeal as provided and until the final verdict of the Supreme Court.”
Kalu made it clear that the speculation of swearing-in Dr Alex Otti on the strength of the Appeal Court verdict is not only presumptuous but equally a violation of the country’s law. He added that any attempt by any person or persons, including judicial officers, to swear in Otti is both an invitation to anarchy.
Kalu said Abia was not the only state where elections have been upturned by the courts but the elected occupiers of such political offices remained on seat until the final decision of the last court statutorily empowered to determine cases emanating from the election.
He explained that election matters for the governorship are statutorily handled by the three tiers of court – the Elect Petition Tribunal with three judges, the Appeal Court, consisting of five justices and finally, the Supreme Court with a panel of seven justices that have the final say.
Meanwhile, Abia State chapter of PDP has expressed optimism that the Appeal Court verdict which nullified the election of the governor will fail at the Supreme Court.
Abia PDP chairman, Senator Emma Nwaka, who made the prediction yesterday, expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict, which, according to him, was anchored on the report of the Card Reader which failed Nigerians during the 2015 general elections.
Nwaka said that the Appeal Court cancellation of results from three local government areas without specifying the polling units where cases of over-voting were recorded made the judgment untenable, arguing that only INEC could decide whether or not to cancel the result of the polling unit concerned.
He noted that disenfranchising Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala Ngwa North amounted to disenfranchising the governor himself, stressing that the process recognised by law is outlined in Section 49 (1&2) of the Electoral Act.
Nwaka, who is a lawyer, said though the party was yet to access the certified true copy of the judgment, it implicit confidence in the judiciary to give back the PDP its mandate.
He said that Ikpeazu remains the governor, pending the ruling of the Supreme Court and warned that any move to swear anybody in or parade anybody as governor, other than Ikpeazu, would be resisted. He, however, appealed to Abians to remain calm and law-abiding.
•Photo shows Dr. Ikpeazu taking the oath of office as Abia Governor on May 29, 2015.
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