Confusion has rented the air in Abia State as the situation in the state suggests there are currently two governors.
Following the Sack of Dr .Okezie Ikpeazu, over alleged tax evasion by Federal High Court in Abuja and ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to immediately issue Dr Samson Uche Ogah with certificate of return, the INEC, on Thursday complied by issuing certificate of return to Ogah, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the new governor of Abia state despite appeal filed by Ikpeazu and another court order that barred new governor from being sworn in.
The Justice Okon Abang-led court had held that Ikpeazu submitted false tax information to his party, the PDP during the governorship primary in December 2014, and as such was not qualified to contest for the party’s primaries.
Justice Abang also ordered INEC to immediately issue a certificate of return to Ogah, while ordering Ikpeazu to immediately vacate the office of the governor.
Embattled Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has reacted to the issuance of Certificate of Return to Mr. Uche Ogah by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as governor of Abia State.
A statement he personally signed on Thursday said it was said that INEC carried out the issuance, “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”.
He added that, “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 Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has explained why the first runner up in the 2014 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, gubernatorial primary election in Abia State, Uche Ogah was issued with Certificate of Return on Thursday.
An Abuja Federal High Court had on Monday annulled the election of Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu for alleged tax evasion and also ordered INEC to issue Ogah with Certificate of Return.
Explaining why Ogah was issued with the Certificate of Return, INEC’s National Commissioner, in charge of the South East, Amb. Lawrence Nwuruku said the commission only heeded to a Federal High Court order.
Nwuruku stated that he could go to jail if he acted otherwise, stressing that if the valid court order was later reversed, INEC would not hesitate to act accordingly.
He said, “The situation is that we are simply obeying the court order. The court said with immediate effect, without wasting time, we should issue him Certificate of Return and that is what we have done – to obey the court order. If the court tomorrow issues another order, we would obey the same. By the grace of God, I am the INEC Commissioner in charge of South East.
“If court says we should issue the same certificate to another person, I will do same. In this case, court ordered us to issue a Certificate of Return to the person who won the election and that is Uche Ogah.
“I was the person who gave the Certificate of Return to Gov. Ikpeazu as he was declared winner. Now, the court has said otherwise. One thing we know is that we are not above the law and we cannot disobey the laws of the land. After the court, another person we obey in our land is God and my conscience is my God. Another thing that guides us is the court and we must obey its order with immediate effect.”