FOR the ruling PDP in Abia State, the December 31st Court of Appeal judgment which sacked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and declared Dr. Alex Otti of APGA winner of the April 2015 governorship election was a big blow that was never expected. For them it was beyond their imagination and thus, they naturally reacted adversely with protests in Aba and attacks against the Justices of the Court.
But Governor Okezie himself took the court decision calmly. Immediately, he received the news, the governor met with stakeholders of his party and issued a statement, calling for calm noting that was heading to the Supreme Court to test the Appeal Court decision.
IKPEAZU’s reaction: Describing the judgment as an “anomaly” which would be corrected by the Supreme Court”, the Governor said: “I have instructed my lawyers to file an immediate appeal at the Supreme Court, I wish to assure all Abians that all is well. ”.
The next day, Saturday, 2/1/16, supporters of the party from the Ugwa Ngwa political bloc, where Ikpeazu comes from, staged protests in Aba. Led by the former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara, the protesters blocked roads in Aba area to show their rejection of the judgment.
Also, the party’s chairman in the State, Chief Emma Nwaka condemned the Court of Appeal judgment, saying that it came to the party as a rude shock. Nwaka recalled that the party had earlier protested the composition of the membership of the panel of Justices that handled the matter on the ground that all of them came from the same judicial division. He said the Justices erred in law by relying on the Card Reader to arrive at their judgment which he said was against the stipulation of the Electoral Act.
Nwaka further faulted the judgment on the ground that the Appeal Court has no right to cancel the elections in Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala Ngwa North council areas.
Many other stakeholders of the party including Chief Charles Ogbonnaya, Ukpai Agwu Ukpai, Movement for Abia Reunion, the party’s major grassroots structure and the zonal National Vice Chairman of the party in the South East zone, Col. Austin Akobundu.
Chief Charles Ogbonnaya, who is the Abia State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, condemned the judgment as very biased but called on the supporters of the two the parties to conduct themselves peacefully, even as he accused APGA supporters of wielding dangerous weapons during their victory rally.
Ogbonnaya, who said that both parties have the right to hold rallies and demonstrations, insisted that they must be peaceful devoid of any violence. He alleged that he saw APGA youths in the television wielding dangerous weapons during their protest on Wednesday.
Ukpai also faulted the judgment, saying that it never followed the rule law and expressed hope that the Supreme Court would set it aside.
For the National Vice Chairman of the party in the South East zone, Austin Akobundu, the court judgment was a “reckless display of judicial ineptitude and impartiality” by the Justices.
“We are appalled that the Appeal Court supposedly manned by men of high jurisprudence would wittingly decide to disenfranchise a majority section of Abia electorate, three LGAs in all; in effort to give victory to Alex Otti and APGA which they didn’t get at the election. Even when the Appeal Court judges had the option of ordering for a rerun so that Alex Otti and his party, APGA will once more text their popularity in the poll, they chose to award undeserved victory to him”.