The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on Thursday explained why it issued a Certificate of Return to Samson Ogah as the elected Governor of Abia State despite the notice of appeal already filed against the court judgment that removed the incumbent, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, from office.
Ogah was on Thursday issued a Certificate of Return by INEC, resulting in heightened political activities in Abia State.
Explaining the rationale behind issuing the Certificate of Return to Ogah, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of the South East, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku, said the Commission only reacted to the pronouncement of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, which nullified Ikpeazu’s election.
“The court said with immediate effect we should issue Ogah a Certificate of Return and that is what we have done. If the court tomorrow issues another order, we will obey the same.
“By the grace of God, I am the INEC commissioner in charge of the South East. I will do the same thing if court orders us to issue the same certificate to another person.
“In this case, the court ordered us to issue a certificate to the person who won the election, that is Uchechukwu Ogah. I was the person who issued the Certificate of Return to Governor Ikpeazu because he was declared winner.
“Now, the court is saying otherwise. One thing is that we are not above the law and we cannot refuse to obey the law of the land. After the court, another person we obey is God.
“And my conscience is my God. If you were in the court that day and I will urge you, members of the media, to go and study the court decision very well, it was wonderful, it was direct.”
Asked if INEC was aware Ikpeazu had already appealed the said judgment, Nwuruku replied that the commission obeyed the judgment.
“Our own is to obey the judgment on ground. If by tomorrow the court says give it to another person, then the INEC chairman will obey by signing another Certificate and I will issue it.
“What we have just done is obeying the Nigerian constitution.
“If l fail, I will be jailed and I don’t want to be jailed.”