By NewsCritic Reporters
There is growing tension in Isialangwa-South Local Government Area of Abia State as the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, moves to stop the conduct of fresh local council chairmanship election in the area. The party is insisting that its Chairmanship candidate in the 2016 council election conducted in the LGA, Hon Christian Okeri, should be issued with the certificate of return by the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission, ABSIEC, and sworn-in according to the Appeal Tribunal Order of the judgement delivered in 2018 in favour of the APGA candidate in the election.
Hon Christian Ikechukwu Okeri contested the Chairmanship election for Isialangwa-South LGA held on December 21th, 2016 as the APGA candidate. However, following the ABSIEC declaration of the PDP candidate, Mr Goddy Isikaku as the winner of the said election, APGA and its candidate filed a petition at the Local Government Council Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia against the outcome of the election.
On October 13th, 2017 the Election Petition Tribunal annulled the Isialangwa-South chairmanship election and ordered ABSIEC to conduct a fresh election after it disqualified the PPDP candidate from contesting in the new election. Incidentally, the APGA and PDP candidates were the only parties in the election and with the disqualification of the PDP candidate Mr Isikaku, Hon Okeri of APGA becomes the sole candidate for the election.
NewsCritic online reports that dissatisfied with the judgement, the respondents appealed to the High Court of Abia State which sat as the Appeal Tribunal. The Appeal Tribunal on November 23rd, 2018 delivered its judgement affirming the judgement of the Local Government Council Election Petition Tribunal.
In spite of the judgement order, the ABSIEC our investigations revealed has declined to conduct a fresh election as ordered by the Tribunal and Appeal court respectively, which legal practitioners described as contemptuous. The APGA and its candidate faced with this refusal of ABSIEC to obey the court order were further compelled to file a suite against Abia state Government and ABSIEC at the High Court of Abia State and the suit N0 HU/232/2018 is still pending before the court.
Meanwhile, ABSIEC has concluded arrangement to conduct chairmanship election in Isialangwa-South LGA come December 18th, in disregard to the judgement of the tribunal and appeal court.
Counsel to APGA and its candidate, F. C Ifeakor Esq. said that the activities of ABSIEC and the proposed December 2020 local government council chairmanship election in Isialangwa-South is an affront to the judicial system in Nigeria, and amounts to contempt of court which can’t stand before any lawful court or Tribunal.
Ifeaakor Esq cautioned the ABSIEC to do the needful and not to waste funds in the conduct of election in Isialangwa-South as according to him, the Supreme Court has elevated the doctrine of Lis Pendens to a constitutional level, adding that any election conducted in violation of this doctrine and the competent order of the Election Tribunal would be set aside. He urged the ABSIEC to abide by the judgement and not waste the scarce resources of the state.
Similarly, Hon Christian Okeri has urged ABSIEC stop further plans for the conduct of chairmanship election in Isialangwa-South and swear him in, or in the alternative conduct a fresh election in which he would be the only candidate, going by the judgement of the court which had earlier disqualified the PDP candidate who was his only opponent in the election.
Said Hon Okeri “The judgement of the Appeal Court is clear on this matter, conduct a fresh election, incidentally, I’m the only candidate available for such an election which automatically calls for my inauguration, he stressed.