Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended action on the court judgment sacking the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi; his deputy, Eric Igwe, and 16 members of the State House of Assembly over their defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
A Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo, had in a suit declared vacant the seats of Umahi, his deputy, and those of the lawmakers who defected with them to the APC.
The court order followed two suits brought against them by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The judge also ordered INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to PDP’s nominees for the vacant executive positions without delay.
Following the judgment, PDP nominated candidates to take over from Umahi and his deputy. But INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement, yesterday, said the commission had deliberated on the matter extensively and decided to suspend further action on the matter due to conflicting judgments and orders served on it from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
Okoye said: “It will be recalled that the commission met on Thursday, March 17, 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 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.
“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 PDP to APC in the light of the conflicting judgments and orders served on it from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
“The commission also considers it prudent to stay action on the conflicting judgments and orders being aware of the pendency of Appeals and Motions for Stay of Execution of some of the judgments before various divisions of the Court of Appeal.”
Meanwhile, the commission has rejected the nominations of three political parties: Action Alliance (AA); African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) from participating in the Osun governorship election.
Okoye said the commission based its decision on failure of the parties to comply with the guidelines on political party operations (2018) or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
He said the commission would only publish the list and personal particulars of the candidates of 15 out of the 18 political parties that conducted primaries
According to Okoye, AA did not submit a nomination jointly signed by the national chairman and secretary of the party, while ADC and APGA nominated candidates that do not meet the age requirements for the office of deputy governor as enshrined in the Constitution.
“The commission has already communicated this position officially to the affected political parties,” he added.