The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday explained what led the commission to issue a certificate of return to Uche Sampson Ogah as the next governor of Abia State.
Explaining the reason for the mix-up in an interview on Friday, Nick Dazang, spokesman for INEC, said Mr. Ikpeazu’s inability to provide a stay-of-execution order warranted INEC to issue the certificate of return to Mr. Ogah.
The commission argued that without the order, it had no option than give a certificate of return to Ogah as ordered by the court.
Mr Dazang said, “I discovered that INEC received Mr. Ikpeazu’s notice. However, it did not contain a motion or order of stay of execution. In the circumstance, and in deference to the previous court order, INEC as a responsible regulatory (body) has no recourse than to issue Mr. Ogah the certificate of return.
“By law, a certificate of return is supposed to be issued within one week. Also, the commission has decided as a matter of policy to obey all subsisting court orders. That means if the court were to issue a contradictory order, INEC has no option than to obey.”
But evidence of notice released by the state government shows that it indeed submitted a letter of appeal to INEC, the commission finally acknowledged the reception of the said notice, saying that the notice was submitted at the wrong INEC department.
Meanwhile, documents displayed by Abia government has proof that the notice of appeal was received and endorsed by Saleh Ibrahim, a senior clerical officer at the commission’s legal department, INEC headquarters in Abuja.
Abia State Attorney-General, Umeh Kalu, had in an earlier statement on Thursday, said the governor’s legal team included the notice of stay of execution order with the appeal notice delivered to INEC.
He said, “I have a proof to that. Saleh N. Ibrahim, Senior Clerical Officer at the Legal Services Department of the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja, who stamped the Notice of Appeal and Injunction with the Commission’s official stamp by 12.50pm on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.”
Going by the latest development, Ikpeazu remains the governor of Abia State, while Ogah will have to wait until the Appeal Court decides on the matter.
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