8th January, 2018
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to proceed with the proposed Jan. 13 rerun election for Anambra Central Senatorial District.
The Chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Awka that the election would be a nullity as the seat in question was not vacant.
Nwobu said that INEC which was supposed to be an unbiased umpire in the process, should be fair and not decide to uphold one court judgment and jettison the other.
According to him, the March 2015 election and victory of the PDP have not been invalidated by any court.
The chairman advised INEC not to spend tax payers’ money on an election that would not stand the test of time.
He said the vacancy of Anambra seat in the National Assembly was internal to the PDP over who was the valid candidate, noting that the issue had been laid to rest with Dec. 13 High Court judgment.
“PDP was declared the winner in the election and certificate of return was issued to Sen. Uche Ekwunife, and she was there for more than a year.
“Her victory was contested by Chief Victor Umeh of APGA that he should have been declared winner having won the highest number of votes.
“The votes were recounted and Ekwunife’s victory was upheld before Umeh proceeded to the Court of Appeal and Sen. Ekwunife lost the seat on the grounds that she was not validly nominated.
“While the Court of Appeal ruled that there should be a rerun based on post-election matters, a Federal High Court has ruled that Dr Obiora Okonkwo of the PDP is the valid candidate of the PDP and should be sworn in,’’ Nwobu said.
“INEC should not descend into the arena because that is what its body language suggests; there is still a matter on this election in the Supreme Court.
“Why is INEC in a haste, are they an interested party? They should appeal and vacate the judgment first.
“INEC is a strong stakeholder in our democracy and an agent of government, it should remain neutral and not obey one judgment and disobey the other.’’
Nwobu urged INEC to purge itself of any form of partisanship as its body language suggests, adding that they could not in good conscience disobey the judgment of the court.
“Election is a very expensive venture; INEC should not spend tax payers’ money on a needless election, it will amount to waste of resources because based on facts, it cannot be a valid exercise,’’ he said.
Also, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, candidate of the PDP demanded that INEC issue him a Certificate of Return, adding that the seat was not vacant.
Obiora said he had presented the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Dec. 13 High Court judgment and other relevant document to INEC.
He said he and his party would take every legitimate step to get INEC to do the right thing and stop the Jan. 13 election.
“I have no business with what INEC is planning; all I am doing is to have INEC give me my Certificate of Return so that I will occupy my seat.
“I am not part of the process because the seat is not vacant, I want to believe that as at this moment, INEC is still acting on the old judgment which gave them instruction for the election.
“But now that everything is clear, the CTC document and other papers are on its table, I hope they will do the needful.
“INEC as an unbiased umpire and strong agent of government should not do anything contrary to the law,’’ he said.
The INEC in Anambra has commenced training for NYSC members as ad-hoc poll staff ahead of the election.