March 2, 2016

Anambra central re-run: INEC postpones polls indefinitely

Anambra central re-run: INEC postpones polls indefinitely

Victor Umeh

Recalls dispatched materials
PDP pressuring Obi to join race

By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA—The Independent  National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday postponed indefinitely the Anambra Central senatorial re-run election scheduled for Saturday, March 5, 2016.

Announcing the postponement at stakeholders’ meeting at the Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Dr. Lawrence Azubuike said this followed a court order obtained by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that it should be included in the exercise.
Though, the REC did not elaborate, Vanguard gathered that a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja on Monday ordered INEC to include the PDP in the rerun election.

INEC had barred the PDP from participating in the rerun poll following a Court of Appeal judgment of 7th December, 2015 nullifying the election of the party’s candidate, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife in the national assembly election held on March 28, 2015.
Curiously, March 5 will be the ninetieth- day as the Court of Appeal had on December 7, 2015 directed INEC to conduct the rerun within 90 days without PDP participating.

But the PDP approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, praying INEC to include it in the rerun. The PDP prayer was granted on Monday, thus necessitating the postponement of the poll indefinitely by INEC.

Reacting to the judgment, the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in the rerun election, Chief Victor Umeh described the Federal High Court ruling as absurd.

According to him,  the principle of law is that every decision of the court above should bind on all courts below, arguing that a Federal High Court could not assume jurisdiction in a matter already decided by the Court of Appeal.

He threatened to drag the Federal High Court judge that presided over the matter to the National Judicial Commission, NJC, for what he described as ‘brazen impunity and misapplication of the law’.

Umeh accused the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi of being the mastermind in all the plots against him, insisting that “we shall crush him and all his evil plans.”
Though PDP has not officially announced its candidate for the re-run, it was gathered yesterday that former Governor, Obi is being positioned as the PDP consensus candidate.

Former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism during the Obi administration, Chief Joe-Martins Uzodike told reporters in Awka that Obi would be persuaded to join the race.
He said: “Top PDP members have been mounting pressure on Obi to contest the senatorial election and the former governor has no option but to oblige. PDP is yet to submit the name of its candidate for the election and we are pleading with Obi to run.

“We know that once he is chosen as our candidate, he will win the election in view of his popularity in the zone and in the entire Anambra State.”
But the national chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Oye described PDP’s plan to draft ex-governor Obi into the rerun poll as a wishful thinking, adding, “we are not afraid of any person in this election as we have the capacity to crush any candidate.”

He also argued that since Obi did not participate in any primary of PDP, he is therefore not even qualified to take part in the re-run election.

Coalition welcomes postponement
Meanwhile, a group which calls itself the Anambra Central People’s Coalition welcomed the postponement, arguing that it was not the first time INEC would postpone election after fixing a date.

In a statement signed by the coordinator, Elder Emeka Anazulike, women leader, Mrs. Rosemary Okeke, among other people, the group wondered why INEC should rush the election when there were still some unresolved issues pertaining to the election.

“The postponement will give equal opportunity to parties that are in court to put their houses in order before the re-run,” the statement said.
Despite the postponement, the APGA candidate continued his campaign yesterday in parts of the senatorial zone, asking the electorate not to be deterred by the statement that came from INEC.

Recalling materials
In another development, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has recalled all the materials already being delivered to Anambra Central senatorial election earlier scheduled for Saturday back to its headquarters following the indefinite postponement of the exercise by the commission.

It was gathered in INEC that the materials being withdrawn had no PDP logo on them and following the Federal High Court ruling directing INEC to include the party in the election, the materials had to be recalled.

Meanwhile, it was gathered yesterday that INEC has already appealed against the ruling of the Federal High Court directing the postponement of the election and inclusion of PDP in the exercise.

Following the development yesterday,, many aspirants started putting up their posters in parts of the senatorial zone.
Some of the candidates who spoke on the matter expressed happiness that they would have more time to campaign.