Anambra Central: IPAC, UPP, other candidates urge INEC to respect court order

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has been urged to respect the order of a Federal High Court in Abuja which had ordered the commission to issue Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with a certificate of return as the Senator representing Anambra South senatorial district.

The calls were made in separate letters to the Commission by the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Coalition of Candidates in the Anambra Central Senatorial Rerun Election and United Peoples Party (UPP), after copies of the judgment order was served on INEC through tits Director of Legal Services and also on the chairman.

The groups insisted that respect of the court order would close the chapter on the protracted pre-election tussle that had enveloped the zone making it not to have representation in the senate since December 2015 when the last occupant was removed for not being the validly nominated candidate of the PDP.

Also, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, has, in a letter, also congratulated Dr. Okonkwo for his legal victory urging him to use his time in the Senate to advance the cause of good in the society.

In its letter dated December 18, 2017 and signed by the duo of Prince Batho Igwedibia and Hon. Ikechukwu Nwekwe, chairman and secretary respectively of Anambra state chapter of IPAC, the group said “leaders of various political parties that are major stakeholders and participants in the said 2015 election and 2019 general election accept the judgment delivered by Justice John Tsoho on the 13 December 2017 declaring Chief Obiora Okonkwo as the duly nominated candidate of PDP in the 2015 Anambra senatorial election and ordered immediate swearing in of Chief Okonkwo as the senator representing Anambra Central in the red Chambers”.

While congratulating Dr. Okonkwo for the victory, IPAC also said “Let’s also appeal to our brothers who may be aggrieved by this judgment to shield their swords and consider the interest of Ndi Anambra above personal interests and come together to team with our governor Chief Willie Obiano and our National Assembly representatives to take Anambra State to her pride of place as the political, social and economic hub of the Igbo nation, anything to the contrary will be anti-people and against public interest.”

On its part, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), congratulating Dr. Okonkwo on the victory, urged him to add value to the senate.

In its congratulatory letter signed by Secretary General of the CSN, Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu, the Catholic Church said “we join the thousand and one people of goodwill to celebrate with you the verdict in your favour and your election into the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly as a distinguished senator. We pray that you will bring your knowledge and versed experience to bear on effective law making and consciousness of the common good”.

Also in its letter addressed to the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, the United Peoples Party (UPP), said there should be no delay in upholding the judgment of the Federal High Court and clearing the process for Dr. Okonkwo’s swearing-in.

According to the letter which was dated December 18, 2017 and signed by National Chairman of UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, the party urged INEC to issue a certificate of return to Dr. Okonkwo without further delay.

It said the judgment of the Federal High Court in the pre-election matter puts an end to any issues arising from the conduct of the senatorial elections in March 2015.

UPP wrote: “We are writing you this letter with every sense of responsibility and patriotism as an active participant in Nigerian democratic process. We are also writing you this letter as a political party that fielded a prominent and highly qualified candidate, Chief Flint Obiekwe for the election in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone.”

Then, it said: “Fortuitously, the Federal High Court on 13th December, 2017 gave a judgment that effectively resolved the issue of the authentic candidate of PDP for the 2015 Anambra Central Senatorial election.

“We are not aware that the disqualification of Senator Uche Ekwunife nullified a Suit that dated back to December 2014. The Suit by Dr. Obiora Okonkwo is not in any way the same as the legal summersault and rigmarole that emanated from an Election Petition Tribunal and is still pending at the Supreme Court.

“To the best of the knowledge of any discerning Nigerian, the Judgment that declared Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as the authentic beneficiary of the undisputed PDP victory in the March 28, 2015 Anambra Central Senatorial Election has indeed rendered the pending Suits in the matter mere academic exercise, except the judgment of the Federal High Court is successfully challenged by any party that has locus standi in the Suit.

“It is the position of UPP that INEC should proceed without further delay and in the interest of the rule of law and Nigerian democracy to comply with the Clear Order of Court directing the Commission to issue the Certificate of Return to Dr. Obiora Okonkwo”, the party stated.

Meanwhile, candidates of other political parties that participated in the March 2015 Senatorial Election for Anambra central, have called on INEC, to respect the judgment of a Federal high court in Abuja and hand Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a certificate of return.

They said this will enable him resume as Senator representing Anambra Central at the Senate.

Speaking in a signed letter to the INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu, leaders of the Coalition, Chief Akudo Ezeakudo Chikwendu and Comrade Peter Okala, stated that “the judgment of the Federal High Court was straight and unambiguous. We welcome it and call on INEC not to cause further delay in the process of actualizing the judgment of court. We believe the judgment will begin a healing process that will enable all of in Anambra Central to rebuild and plan for 2019. We are just a few more months away from electioneering for 2019 and therefore we believe that swearing Dr. Okonkwo in at this time will enable all of us to refocus and being early to plan for 2019”.

The group further stated that “we were all contestants in that March 2015 senatorial election and as such, also, candidates of our various parties in the planned rerun which we believe should not hold on account of the Federal High Court judgment on a pre-election suit. In deciding this way, we are also mindful of our stakes but we are ready to bury same and focus on 2019.

“While we call on INEC, as an impartial umpire, to give Dr. Okonkwo a certificate of return, we also urge the leadership of the National assembly to swear him in and help close this chapter in the politics of Anambra central. We are all interested in moving forward into 2019. 2015 is in the past and must be closed and we thank the Federal High court for helping us close it.”
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