In compliance with Monday’s order of a Federal High Court in Abuja, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday issued certificate of return to Mr Samson Uche Ogah as the governor-elect of Abia State. The court, presided over by Justice Okon Abang, had ruled that Governor Ikpeazu was in default of his tax payment and had consequently ordered INEC to immediately issue certificate of return to Mr Uche Ogah as governor-elect. The Professor Mahmud Yakubu-led INEC obeyed the court order on Thursday morning at its National Headquarters shortly before the stakeholders’ meeting on the suspended rerun elections in Rivers, Imo, Kogi and Kano States.
However, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who had on Tuesday appealed against the Abuja High Court judgement sacking him as governor of the state, obtained an order of a High Court of Abia State stopping the Chief Judge of the State, President of the Customary Court of Appeal and any other judiciary officer, from swearing-in Ogah as governor. This was just as an excited Ogah, on arrival in Sam Mbakwe International Airport in Owerri from Abuja where he got the certificate of return, said that his emergence as the helmsman of the state represents a new dawn for the people, even as he expressed confidence that he will be sworn in today. He called for concerted efforts of the people including his opponents, urging them to join hands with him in the task of moving the state forward as he pledged to run an all-inclusive government.
The Attorney-general of Abia State, Mr. Umeh Kalu, also reacted to Ogah’s recognition, saying INEC authorities lied when they said they did not receive any Notice of Appeal from Governor Okezie Ikpeazu or an injunction stopping the Commission from issuing a Certificate of Return to Ogah. A proof service circulated by Kalu show that the Commission indeed received the two documents and they were signed for by Saleh N. Ibrahim, Senior Clerical Officer at the Legal Services Department of the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja, who stamped the Notice of Appeal and Injunction with the Commission’s official stamp by 12.50pm on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.
According to Kalu, “ …it is now clear that the Commission had no reason or cause to proceed with their dangerous action of issuing a Certificate of Return to Dr. Uche Ogah when it was clearly in receipt of a Notice of Appeal and Stay of Execution expressly forbidding them from taking any further action on the Judgment of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court pending the determination of the Appeal in the case. “It is rather surprising that the