In what appears a Constitutional stalemate, there are two governors laying claim to head the government of Abia State.
This was sequel to Monday’s action of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, issuing a certificate of return to Uche Ogah, who came second in the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), December 2014 governorship primary in Abia State, thus declaring him the new governor of the state.
He is to automatically replace Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, whose election was annulled by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday.
INEC Commissioner for South East, Lawrence Nwuruku said INEC had no choice than to obey a valid court order.
The court said Ikpeazu was guilty of tax evasion and was therefore unqualified to have contested the 2015 governorship election in the state.
It ordered the electoral body to issue a certificate of return to Ogah, who contested the governorship ticket with the governor but lost.
The court also ordered the governor to vacate office immediately, and hand over to Ogah. But Ikpeazu had appealed the decision.
In his reacted to the issuance of Certificate of Return to Mr. Ogah, Ikpeazu, in a statement he personally signed on Thursday decried INEC action, “despite dependency of a notice of appeal and motion on stay of the orders made by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja”.
His words: “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”, the governor said.
However, in a bid to frustrate Ogah from taking over as governor, Ikpeazu had rushed to an Abia State High Court to stop his swearing in as governor as ordered by the Abuja High Cout.
Thus, Justice C.H Ahuchogu of the Osisioma Ngwa Division of the Abia State High Court has ordered the Abia State Chief Judge Justice Theresa Uzoamaka Uzoekwe not to inaugurate the President of Masters Energy, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah as the Governor of Abia State pending the determination of the Suit brought by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
The Judge ordered that no Judicial Officer should Inaugurate Dr Uche Ogah as Governor of Abia State while Dr Okezie Ikpeazu remains in Office Pursuant to section 143(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act.
Uchechukwu Sampson, Ogah is a Nigerian oil magnate, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist and resident in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Ogah is the President of Master Energy Group, a conglomerate with over 15 subsidiaries and interests across a variety of industries.
It would be recalled that a similar scenario played itself out earlier when Alex Otti, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate in the election took Ikpeazu to the Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal and won only to lose at the Appeal Court which confirmed Ikpeazu’s election.