Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi
…Umahi Disagrees With Ruling
The local government election conducted by Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) has been nullified by a Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.
The state electoral body led by Jossy Eze, had declared the candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) winners of all the chairmanship and councillorship seats in the elections held on 30th July.
But the court, in a ruling delivered on Thursday, nullified the exercise.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenged the outcome of the exercise, accusing the electoral commission and the Ebonyi State Government of failing to comply with Section 150 of the Electoral Act 2022, among other infractions.
The judge, Fatun Riman, held that the conduct of the election was undemocratic and unlawful and therefore declared it void, the Daily Post reported.
The development came barely six days before the swearing-in of the newly elected council chairmen and councillors, which was billed to hold on 1 September.
Counsel to the PDP (plaintiff), Mudi Erhenedi, who spoke to reporters shortly after the ruling, commended the court for upholding justice in the state.
“If you look at it, how do you access compliance without law if you hide the law with which you want to conduct the election,” he said.
“Is it not when you make the law public that we will know whether you complied with it or not, how can you be making laws and hiding them,” Mr Erhenedi added.
“My position now is that my clients demanded to be availed of this law (that guided the conduct of the election).”
Mr Erhenedi said the plaintiff had written to relevant authorities in the state, including members of the Ebonyi House of Assembly, raising concerns about the infractions in the conduct of the exercise.
Roy Nweze, counsel to the defendant, did not respond to calls seeking comments from him on the ruling.
Reacting to the development, the Governor, Engr. David Umahi who was planning to Inaugurates the sacked Chairmen on the 1st of September disagreed with the decision of the court, while calling on their members to remain calm.
Umahi in a statement signed and made available to journalists in Abakaliki, by his Special Assistant on Strategy, Chooks Oko, said the court was curious to rule on the prayers that were not asked by the plaintiff.
The statement reads in part: “The attention of the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr David N. Umahi has been drawn to the curious ruling of the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki Thursday nullifying the July 30, 2022, Local Government elections held across the state.
“It is on record that none of the grounds of the litigants included nullification of the election but the court bizarrely came up with such an order.
“The election generally acknowledged as peaceful and orderly, produced our incoming leaders at the local government level having followed all laid-down procedures to the letter.
“Being law-abiding, the Governor enjoins all Ebonyians to be calm and go about their businesses peacefully while our Lawyers study the judgement to determine the best way forward.
“His belief in the judiciary as the bastion of justice and equity remains unshaken” he stressed.