By Okey Ndiribe, Asst. Political Editor
Although Governor Peter Obâ€˜sÂ gubernatorial victory in last Saturday electionÂ has been embraced by most of his rivals, there are indications that he still has hurdles to surmount before retaining his seat at the Government House Awka.
Political observers in the state have pointed out that despite the fact thatÂ Governor ObiÂ is a veteranÂ of many political and judicial battles,Â signals emanating from the camp ofÂ someÂ his political opponents indicate that he should be ready to face more offensives.
One of the hurdles Obi has to overcome is the ruling last Friday by a LagosÂ Federal High Court which statedÂ that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not properly composed to conductÂ last Saturdayâ€™s gubernatorial poll.Â Â Â Already some legal luminaries have expressed dissatisfaction over INECâ€™s decision to ignore the judgment of the court.
For instance,Â Akin Oyebode, a professor of Law at the University of Lagos and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ado-Ekiti ( UNAD) condemned the decision of the electoral body to go ahead and conduct the poll in defiance of the court order.
In a telephone interview he granted to Vanguard last week he stated that â€œÂ the FederalÂ High Court decisionÂ barring the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) from going ahead with conducting the gubernatorial election in Anambra State last SaturdayÂ based onÂ INECâ€™s present compositionÂ isÂ good law.â€
He continued: â€œBy going aheadÂ toÂ conduct the election irrespective of the court order, INEC behavedÂ irresponsibly. This is because at the end of the day whatever transpiredÂ in Anambra last SaturdayÂ could be nullified. This is so because the condition precedent to INEC conducting any successful election has not been satisfied.â€
Referring to what happened just before the conduct of the June 12 1993 presidential election when a court delivered a similar rulingÂ barring the National Electoral Commission (NEC) â€“ as it was then called â€“from conducting the election but which the electoral body ignored, Oyebode inferred that INECâ€™sÂ attitude was wrong because theÂ circumstances were different.
Said he: â€œI believe theÂ Chairman of INEC, ProfÂ Maurice Iwu wants to play Humphrey Nwosu but the circumstances are different from that ofÂ June 12 1993 presidential elections. Perhaps the judgeÂ ruledÂ that INEC was incapacitated because of the lack of requisite number of members. In fact Maurice IwuÂ might be skating on thin ice and this might be the ultimate thing that would do him in.Â When you are skating on thin ice you are likely to fall. He needs to be properly guided.â€
He maintainedÂ that the INEC boss needs a good lawyer to guide him out of this conundrum. â€œI am not sure he has been properly advisedâ€ he concluded.
Apart from last Fridayâ€™s court ruling, the candidate of the Action Congress (AC) Dr. Chris Ngige has already rejected the result of the poll. Although Dr. Ngigeâ€™s position may be construed in some quarters as an effort to have his pound of fleshÂ against Governor Obi, he will likely cite last Fridayâ€™s court ruling and the mannerÂ in which the election was conducted if he decidesÂ to mount a legal offensiveÂ against Obiâ€™s victory.
It would be recalled that Obi waged a sustained legal battle against Dr. Ngige until his declaration as governor by INEC in 2003 was annulled. Obi was subsequently declared winner of the election and sworn as governorÂ afterÂ three years ofÂ legal fireworks.
However, Obiâ€™s biggestÂ challengeÂ in his bid to remain the governor of the state may be posed by the internal crisis in his party -the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
APGA has been ripped apart by the internal crisis which has lingered for several years.
The crisis had already led to numerous legal actions and judgments across the land.
In a newspaper advertorial in one of the national dailies three weeks before the poll, a faction of the crisis-ridden party with Chief Chekwas Okorie as National Chairman had stated among other things that it had already expelled Obi and applied to INEC to substitute his name with that of George Ozodinobi as the partyâ€™s governorshipÂ candidateÂ for the poll.
According to Okorie:Â â€œ One of the dangers of acquiescing to Governor Obiâ€™s candidature is that the partyÂ would stand to lose to form government come March 17, 2010â€.
TheÂ faction had further stated that â€œ all efforts to win the election would be an exercise in futility. No responsible party leadership would be aware of this situation and pretend that