A group, Imo Youths Solidarity Movement (IYSM) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to ignore a court order from the Imo State High Court order for a fresh election in the entire 11 wards in the Njaba Local Government Area of Nkwerre/ Nwangele/ Isu / Njaba federal constituency of the state.
INEC had suspended the election in the federal constituency after it collated results in Nwangele, Nkwerre, and Isu LGAs and equally collated results in eight out of the 11 wards in Njaba LGA.
But while all the parties were waiting for INEC to fix a date for the completion of the election in the three remaining wards in the Njaba LGA, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Harrison Nwadike, approached a High Court in Owerri, demanding for a fresh election in the entire Njaba LGA.
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Ruling on the motion, justice B.C Iheka on March 27 ordered that the results of the entire federal constituency should not be declared until a supplementary election is conducted in the entire Njaba LGA.
The judge’s order reads ”Until the Supplementary Election for the entire 133 Polling Units in the 11 wards of Njaba Local Government Area is conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the defendant, or any other person, whomsoever and howsoever, acting in her stead be and is hereby restrained from announcing or declaring the result of the 2023 Isu/Njaba/Nkwerre/Nwangele Federal Constituency election, pending the hearing and determination of the matter on Notice in this case.”
But reacting to the Court Order, the leader of the group, Chino Obioha, said that the prayers of the APC candidate were post-election matters which ought to be filed at the election petition tribunal.
Obioha, said that the order was “incompetent” since INEC was not a party to the suit, adding that a state High Court lacked jurisdiction to stop INEC from completing the processes of an election.
He said ”these are the reasons INEC shouldn’t obey the Court Order. The Order is not directed to INEC. The Order is incompetent by not making INEC a party to the suit. The defendant in the suit( the Federal constituency returning officer) is an agent of INEC at the moment. You cannot bind a Principal through an agent. Rather you bind a Principal to stop the agents.
“State High Courts have no Jurisdiction over INEC. Both by virtue of section 251 Subsection 1 (p) and (r ) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and section 84 (14) of the Electoral Act.
“The injunction purports to stop INEC from performing its lawful duty. Section 84 (15) forbids Courts from stopping the process of an election. The election is a process that includes voting, counting of votes, collation of results, and announcement of results. No court can stop this process.
“The complaints of the applicant are post-election matters that should be challenged at the Tribunal. Section 24 of the Electoral Act is talking about actions in Emergency situations. There was no emergency at Njaba L.G.A. Election was peacefully conducted and results were successfully uploaded to the INEC Irev portal.
“The stolen Form EC8B’s and EC8C of Njaba L.G.A was after election and collation. The Forms EC8A’s of the polling units results where the election was held are kept safe and intact including upload into the INEC server.
“Hence, section 24 of the Electoral Act cannot apply in the present circumstance. The polling unit results of the election at Njaba L.G.A have been used to declare the results of the Presidential election. The Certified True Copies (CTC) of the polling unit results have been issued to parties by INEC. The applicant Harrison Nwadike who came distant 3rd in the election, wants the election repeated for him.”
From the results so far collated by INEC, the PDP candidate, Ugonna Ozurigbo scored 19, 984 votes while the Labour Party candidate, Nwaugo Ozurumba scored 9,257 votes. The APC candidate polled 9,109 votes.