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Anambra: Rivers Obi has to cross

By Okey Ndiribe, Asst. Political Editor
Although Governor Peter Ob‘s  gubernatorial victory in last Saturday election  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 that  Governor Obi  is a veteran  of many political and judicial battles,  signals emanating from the camp of  some  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 Lagos  Federal High Court which stated  that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not properly composed to conduct  last Saturday’s gubernatorial poll.    Already some legal luminaries have expressed dissatisfaction over INEC’s decision to ignore the judgment of the court.

For instance,  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 “  the Federal  High Court decision  barring the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) from going ahead with conducting the gubernatorial election in Anambra State last Saturday  based on  INEC’s present composition  is  good law.”

He continued: “By going ahead  to  conduct the election irrespective of the court order, INEC behaved  irresponsibly. This is because at the end of the day whatever transpired  in Anambra last Saturday  could be nullified. This is so because the condition precedent to INEC conducting any successful election has not been satisfied.”

Referring to what happened just before the conduct of the June 12 1993 presidential election when a court delivered a similar ruling  barring the National Electoral Commission (NEC) – as it was then called –from conducting the election but which the electoral body ignored, Oyebode inferred that INEC’s  attitude was wrong because the  circumstances were different.

Said he: “I believe the  Chairman of INEC, Prof  Maurice Iwu wants to play Humphrey Nwosu but the circumstances are different from that of  June 12 1993 presidential elections. Perhaps the judge  ruled  that INEC was incapacitated because of the lack of requisite number of members. In fact Maurice Iwu  might be skating on thin ice and this might be the ultimate thing that would do him in.  When you are skating on thin ice you are likely to fall. He needs to be properly guided.”

He maintained  that the INEC boss needs a good lawyer to guide him out of this conundrum. “I am not sure he has been properly advised” he concluded.

Apart from last Friday’s court ruling, the candidate of the Action Congress (AC) Dr. Chris Ngige has already rejected the result of the poll. Although Dr. Ngige’s position may be construed in some quarters as an effort to have his pound of flesh  against Governor Obi, he will likely cite last Friday’s court ruling and the manner  in which the election was conducted if he decides  to mount a legal offensive  against Obi’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 governor  after  three years of  legal fireworks.

However, Obi’s biggest  challenge  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 party’s governorship  candidate  for the poll.

According to Okorie:  “ One of the dangers of acquiescing to Governor Obi’s candidature is that the party  would stand to lose to form government come March 17, 2010”.

The  faction had further stated that “ 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


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