By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA—A federal high court sitting in Awka, Anambra State, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Bature Gafai has exonerated the Returning Officer for Anambra South Senatorial zone in the just concluded 2019 general elections, Prof Meshach Umenweke from a prima facie case slammed against him for declaring Chief Ifeanyi Ubah winner of the election.
Umenweke had declared Ubah winner of the election but one of the losers, Chief Christian Uba of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, dragged him to the Federal High Court as second respondent while INEC and Ubah are the first and third respondents respectively.
Uba had asked the court to investigate and prosecute Umenweke for falsely declaring Ubah the winner of the election, adding that what Umenweke declared was a false result of the election.
Delivering his judgement, Justice Gafai stated that Prof Umenweke has no case to answer and at best, would serve as principal prosecution witness in the matter.
He held that the court was not dealing with a criminal trial but to satisfy itself on whether there was a prima facie ground to proceed to investigate the allegations of the applicant or not.
His words: “What I can however safely say categorically here, with all humility, arising from the facts is that the 2nd Respondent, Prof Umenweke in fairness, may at best be a principal prosecution witness on the combined facts, for he it is who knows who and who it was and there may be many that committed the alleged threats and intimidations on him if at all”.
The judge informed that the duty to investigate and prosecute lies with the 1st respondent, INEC and not the police force or any other investigative body.