Abia state Governor-elect, Dr Uche Ogah has declared that the consequential declaration of a Federal High Court that he be sworn in immediately as the Governor of the state is a testimony to the rule of law upon which constitutional governance is founded in Nigeria.
Speaking with reporters in Abuja, Special Adviser to Ogah on Public Communications, Monday Onyekachi Ubani stated that INEC acted within its powers as a law-abiding institution in issuing Ogah a certificate of return so as to avoid an unpalatable leadership vacuum in the state.
Regarding the controversy over the issue of stay of execution on the valid order by the Federal High court, Ubani argued that the difference between a pre-election matter on which the court founded its ruling and the post-election trial of electoral matters by tribunals on the issue of the stay of execution or arrest of judgement was very clear.
“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.”
Ubani stressed that, “the court having found that the information Dr Ikpeazu supplied about his tax payments were false, ruled that he was not qualified to have participated in the primary election of PDP in Dec 2014, ‘ab initio”‘, hence, all the votes he gathered at the said primaries were invalid and of no effect”, he said.
He further maintained that in compliance with the Court Order, Ogah was asked to be sworn in as governor of Abia State immediately, while and it is important to take the word ‘immediately’ so as to avoid constitutional crises.
Ubani also dismissed the injunction granted Ikpeazu stopping the swearing in of Ogah, charging that, “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.
According to him, “the interim order was premised on section 143 of the Electoral Act which was only applicable to judgement obtained in Election Tribunals, but not in pre-election matters, thereby making it a laughable ruling not worth the paper it was written.”
He argued that the “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.”
He maintained that Ikpeazu has been removed constitutionally, noting that legal shenanigans and undue public holidays were not capable of eroding Justice at this time of the day.
He added that as Ogah awaits his swearing ceremony soonest, he sues for calm and peace among the people of Abia, stressing that all opposition elements in Abia State would have an opportunity to contribute their quota in order to move the state forward.