The candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), in the Anambra Central Senatorial rerun election already scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for January 13, 2018, Chief Victor Umeh, has said the date is sacrosanct.
This is coming as INEC is studying the judgments in its custody over the vacant Anambra Central Senatorial District seat.
Umeh, who spoke in a Radio programme at Obosi in Idemili North Local Government of the state assured the people that nothing would prevent the election from holding on the date already fixed by the electoral body.
His assurance came just as personalities in the state, including the traditional ruler of Ndiokpalaeke, Igwe Kanu Okpalaeke, have expressed their support for him and called on electorate in Anambra Central to come out en masse and vote for Umeh.
Giving reasons he was optimistic of the January date, Umeh dismissed the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja which gave an order that Chief Obiorah Okonkwo of PDP should be sworn in as the Senator representing the zone.
Describing Okonkwo’s claim and order as a huge joke, Umeh noted that the Court of Appeal judgement of December 7, 2015 had effectively nullified the result of the March 2015 Anambra Central Senatorial District election.
He said the claim by Okonkwo was “a nullity and cannot be enforced,” adding that the constitution of Nigeria and the Electoral Act have guaranteed the January 13, 2018 date already fixed by INEC for the re-run election.
He therefore called on the electorate in the Senatorial District to brace up to exercise their franchise for effective representation of their District at the Senate.
In a related development, Centre for Democratic Governance (CDG), has flayed INEC for the continued delay in the presentation of Certificate of Return to Okonkwo in line with the directive of the Federal High Court, Abuja, for the Anambra Central Senatorial seat.
Coordinator of the group, Dr. Bassey Etim, said the commission must obey the judgment even if it was opposed to the court’s decision warning on the implication of INEC’s flagrant disobedience to the ruling.
The group said this in a statement issued in Abuja accusing INEC of taking side on the matter, CDG claimed that by refusing to issue certificate of return to Obiora despite being asked by the court to do so and by insisting on the January 13 rerun election for the seat, the commission was showing that it has no regard for the court.
A source hinted that leadership of the commission is already divided over the court order, adding that despite a legal opinion by the director of legal affairs at the commission to the effect that the order of the Federal High Court be respected; some other forces are bent on disobeying the order.
According to the source, leadership of the commission was uncomfortable with the legal opinion from the commission’s legal department and opted to consult its external legal adviser, who is a senior member of the inner bar.
But, in a reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, dismissed speculation about the lingering crisis dividing the commission, stressing that the commission has applied for the Certified True Copy of the ruling.
By Patrick Okohue