•As Igariwey, PDP named successor demands CoR from INEC

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Levinus Nwabughiogu

ABUJA—The embattled Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi and his Deputy, Dr. Eric Igwe, yesterday, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, praying it to stay the execution of the judgment that sacked them from their respective offices, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

This came as the PDP named successor of the governor, Iduma Igariwey, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to immediately issue him and his deputy, Fred Udogu, Certificates of return, CoR, for them to be sworn in as new governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State.

Umahi and Igwe, in a motion on notice they filed through their team of lawyers led by Mr. Chukwuma Ma-Chukwu Ume, SAN, urged the court to also suspend the alternative order that directed the INEC to conduct fresh governorship election in the state, in accordance with section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

They prayed the court to stay execution of the order that mandated INEC to receive from the PDP, names of its candidates to replace them, as well as the order that restrained the electoral body from further recognising them as the governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State, respectively.

More so, the Applicants, want the high court to stay the execution of the order restraining them from putting themselves out as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal they have lodged before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

Both Umahi and Igwe, applied for an order to restrain the PDP from submitting any names to the INEC for the purpose of declaring them as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State in replacement of the Applicants, and if already submitted and accepted, to issue an order of injunction, restraining INEC from using Certificate of Return or putting same into effect, pending the conclusion of the appeal.

They are further seeking an order restraining INEC from conducting elections into their offices and or declaraing the names of any candidate presented by the PDP as the governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi state.

Their application, which was anchored on order 26 rules 1 and 2(1) and order 32 rules 1 and 4(1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019, was predicated on eight grounds.

The application was filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo, who delivered the judgment that is being challenged at the appellate court.

Umahi and his deputy told the court that they were totally dissatisfied with the judgment and have accordingly gone before the appellate court to challenge it.

They averred that the notice of appeal has been dully served on all the parties, saying they had since commenced the process for the compilation and transmission of the records of the appeal in the matter.

They maintained that the outcome of their appeal would be rendered nugatory, unless the court suspends the execution of the judgment.

The Appellants averred that their appeal raised “substantial, recondite and arguable issues of law with reasonable chances of success”.

They said their rights would be highly jeopardized if the judgment of the court is allowed to be executed before the determination of the pending appeal.

Their lawyer, Ume, SAN, argued that one of the serious grounds of the appeal, is the substantial issue of jurisdiction, which he said constitutes exceptional circumstance in consideration to which the law permits the grant of stay of execution pending the hearing and determination of the Applicant’s appeal.

In a related development, the 16 lawmakers of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly that were also asked to vacate their seats by the court, equally filed a motion to stay the execution of the judgment against them, pending the hearing and determination of their appeal.

Meanwhile, the PDP named successor of Dave Umahi,  while briefing journalists yesterday, among others, said “Apart from the order directing Governor Umahi and his deputy to vacate their offices, the court, inter alia, also directed INEC to immediately receive its candidates to replace Governor David Umahi  and his deputy as names submitted by the PDP, as the Governor and the deputy Governor of Ebonyi State.

“While we acknowledge that INEC is in receipt of the communication from the National Chairman of the PDP, we call on INEC as a critical pillar of our constitutional democracy to comply expeditiously with all the consequential orders of the court particularly by declaring the names submitted by the PDP as Governor and Deputy Governor.  This, the INEC is expected to do, by issuing Certificates of Return.”

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