Abia State governor-elect, Dr. Uche Ogah has described as an affront on the rule of law, the refusal of the state’s Chief Judge, Theresa Uzoukwu to swear him in as the duly-elected governor of the state.
Describing the action as capable of undermining the peace and stability of the state, Ogah contended that the stay of execution of the valid order of the Federal High court procured by the embattled governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is only a black-market injunction that has no force of law.
Ogah who spoke to journalists in Abuja through his Special Adviser on Public Communications, Monday Onyekachi Ubani, said there is a clear difference between a pre-election matter on which the Federal High Court premised its ruling and the post-election trial of electoral matters by tribunals on the issue of the stay of execution or arrest of judgement.
“I am not ignorant of the black market injunction allegedly obtained by Dr Ikpeazu at Osisioma Ngwa High Court restraining the Chief Judge of Abia State from swearing in Dr Ogah. That interim order was premised on Section 143 of the Electoral Act which is only applicable to judgements obtained in Election Tribunals, but not in pre-election matters. It is a laughable ruling not worth the paper it was written.
“For God’s sake, a High Court in Abia is a court of coordinate jurisdiction with a Federal High Court and so any order given by such court to contradict an earlier order of the same court is ipso facto null and void. It is only a higher court that has the legal capacity to reverse the earlier order or judgement.
“In a pre-election matter the enforceability of a court judgement is immediate as the losing side in the legal argument, in this case, Dr Ikpeazu, was never adjudged to have been qualified to contest the election in the first place while in a post-election matter the mandate enjoyed by an incumbent subsists until the tribunal or appellate courts rule otherwise.
“Failure or delay to swear Dr Ogah in as the duly elected Governor of Abia State is an unqualified affront to the rule of law and constitutional governance in a true democracy, and an act that is capable of undermining the peace and stability of the state. Dr Ikpeazu has been duly removed as Abia State Governor and no amount of legal shenanigans and illegal public holidays will derail the law of the land taking full effect.
“Dr Ogah will be sworn-in in due course so as to avoid the dangerous power vacuum that currently exists in Abia State, and for him to begin the urgent task of empowering Abians with his laudable developmental programmes already lined up”.
According to him, the consequential declaration of a Federal High Court that he be immediately sworn-in as the Governor of the state is a testimony to the majesty of the rule of law upon which constitutional governance is founded and relied on in Nigeria.
He stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC acted within its powers as a law-abiding institution in issuing Dr Ogah a certificate of return “so as to avoid an unpalatable leadership vacuum in the state”.
Ubani stressed that “the court having found that the information Dr Ikpeazu supplied about his tax payments were all false, ruled that he was not qualified to have participated in the primary election of PDP in December 2014, that all the votes he gathered at the said primaries were invalid and of no effect, in fact wasted.
“Since a general election has been held and the PDP won, Dr Ikpeazu was asked to vacate his seat while the certificate of return should be issued to Dr Ogah who came second during the primary election. He was ordered to be sworn in by the Chief Judge of Abia State immediately. Note the word used by the presiding judge was immediately. Enrollment order was procured by Dr Uche Ogah and INEC was served and they obeyed the extant judgement of the Federal High court by issuing Dr Ogah with the certificate of return”.
He described Dr Ogah as a man of peace who has already stretched out his hand of fellowship to his predecessor to join him in the task of building the state.
“His Excellency is a man of peace and he has extended a positive arm of peace not just to his predecessor alone, but to all his predecessor’s supporters because as members of the same political party, it is in the interest of the party and the good people of the state that they close ranks and work together for a smooth transfer of power and the unhampered running of the new administration”.
He urged Abians to maintain the peace while efforts are geared towards resolving the issue at stake. (Vanguard)