Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The Federal High Court sitting in Awka has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to, within 14 days, conduct investigation and subsequently prosecute Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), over criminal allegations brought against him before the court.
Also, to be investigated and prosecuted is the Returning Officer for Anambra South senatorial election, Prof. M.N. Umenweke, who returned Ubah and later declared the election inconclusive.
The order came following an application of mandamus by the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) senatorial candidate for Anambra South senatorial district, Chief Chris Uba, praying the court to compel INEC to prosecute Ubah and Umenweke for their alleged disorderly conduct that led to Ubah’s declaration as winner of Anambra South senatorial election.
Giving the order, on Wednesday, in the suit No: FHC/AWK/CS/29/2019, between Chief Christian Uba, as applicant, and INEC as first respondent, Prof. Umenweke as second respondent, and Ubah as third respondent, Justice I.B. Gafai said: “The first respondent (INEC) shall, within 14 days from today (Thursday, March 27), conduct or cause investigation into the criminal allegations of the applicant, prosecute, if the investigation result so warrants, the third respondent and any other person(s) implicated in its investigation; and where it considers it inexpedient to prosecute, through its legal officers, consider at its liberty, the appointment of the applicant’s solicitors in this suit for the purpose of such prosecution.”
Uba had, in his reliefs, sought “an order of mandamus compelling the first respondent, forthwith, to undertake the prosecution of the third respondent and his cohorts involved in the disorderly conduct that took place on February 23, 2019, at Nnewi North Local Government Area, headquarters, Nnewi, which led to the announcement of the result of the inconclusive election held on the same day, to elect the senator to represent Anambra South senatorial district in the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“A further order of mandamus compelling the respondent to prosecute the second and third respondents for announcing or publishing a false result to the effect that the third respondent had won the election held on the said date, even when they both knew that the said election was inconclusive and from which no genuine result had, thereby, been generated.
“And order of mandamus compelling the first respondent to prosecute the second respondent for the offence of delivering or causing ‘to be delivered to the third respondent, a false declaration of result/return, to the effect that he won the election to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to represent Anambra South senatorial district in the Senate, even as he knew the said election was still inconclusive.”
Uba had, as part of his grounds for the application, said: “The election was inconclusive, the returning officer in the election i.e. the second respondent knew that as a fact, but still proceeded to announce a winner in the election in the person of the third respondent.”
“When he was asked for an explanation for his inexplicable conduct, the said 2nd respondent stated that “there was insufficient security in the collation arena. There was imminent danger to my person given the situation at hand. I hereby declare the result of the elections into the Anambra South senatorial seat, which I pronounced yesterday inconclusive. This is to enable a conduct of a re-run election in the affected areas.”