Politics

INEC Statement on the Sack of Ebonyi Governor, David Umahi

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained why it has yet to take any action on the court judgment which ordered the sack of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, and his deputy, Eric Igwe.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Festus Okoye said the electoral umpire does not want to rush to make a decision amid the multiple litigations that have emerged.

Okoye, who serves as INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, stated that the decision would affect the order sacking 16 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.

“It will be recalled that the commission met on Thursday 17th March 2022 on the matter, decided to defer its deliberation on the Ebonyi cases, and stepped down the listed Memorandum to enable its Legal Services and Clearance Committee to study the new processes served on it in the light of the previously served ones and advise the commission comprehensively.

“Since then, the commission has been served yet more court processes on the same matter, bringing the total to 12,” he said.

“The commission deliberated extensively on these cases and decided to further suspend action on the defection of the Governor and Deputy-Governor of Ebonyi State and 16 members of the State House of Assembly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the light of the conflicting judgements and orders served on it from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

“The commission also considers it prudent to stay action on the conflicting judgements and orders being aware of the pendency of appeals and motions for stay of execution of some of the judgements before various divisions of the Court of Appeal.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had sacked Umahi and Igwe as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State respectively, on the request of the PDP after both men defected to the APC in November 2020.

The court, while relying on Section 221 of the Constitution, ordered the PDP to immediately send names of replacements to INEC and ordered the governor and his deputy to vacate their offices.

But in a motion on notice dated March 9, Umahi and Igwe prayed the court for an order staying the execution of its orders made the previous day.

They had also asked the court to stay the execution of its order directing INEC to hold a governorship election, in accordance with Section 177(C) of the 1999 Constitution.

Both men later withdrew the suit and approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja to reverse the March 8 decision of the court which removed them from office.

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