President Muhammadu Buhari is awaiting legal advice from the Attorney-General of the Federation

President Muhammadu Buhari is awaiting legal advice from the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) on the governorship tussle in Abia State, The Nation gathered last night.

Malami, is cutting short his trip to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj and may return to the country tomorrow in connection with the development.

In the meantime, the president has ordered security agencies to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order with three persons now laying claim to the governorship seat.

Dr. Uche Ogah who was issued a certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the order of a Federal High Court, Abuja for the purpose of assuming office as governor has described the refusal of Chief Judge Theresa Uzoukwu to swear him in as an affront on the rule of law.

The stalemate took a twist yesterday after one of those who contested the PDP governorship ticket in the state in December 2014, Sir Friday Nwosu, declared yesterday that he, and not Ogah, should replace Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

Nwosu, like Ogah, has filed a suit in court accusing the governor of forging his tax documents.

The Nation learnt that security agencies have extracted a commitment from Governor Ikpeazu and Dr. Ogah to sheath their swords until there is a legal opinion on the confusion in the state.

A top government source said: “The President is awaiting legal advice from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice who has been away to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj.

“In line with his commitment to the Rule of Law, there is nothing the President can do without a legal opinion.

“The AGF is expected back in the country on Monday and from then we may get a legal opinion on the situation in the state.”

Another source said the President had taken appropriate steps to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the state.

The source said: “All security agencies have been ordered to beef up security and prevent acts capable of causing unrest and breaches in the state.

“In line with the directive, security agencies have extracted commitment from Ikpeazu and Ogah that they will not take the laws into their hands. This was why the state Director of DSS had audience with Ogah on Thursday. The sitting governor has also given assurance to continue to ensure peace in the state.’

Ogah’s Special Adviser on Public Communications, Monday Onyekachi Ubani  said yesterday in Abuja that  Justice  Uzoukwu’s action was  capable of undermining the peace and stability of the state.

He rubbished the stay of execution which Ikpeazu said he obtained against the verdict of the FHC Abuja asking him to vacate office, as a black-market injunction that has no force of law.

His words: “In a pre-election matter, the enforceability of a court judgment is immediate as the losing side in the legal argument, in this case, Ikpeazu, was never adjudged to have been qualified to contest the election in the first place while in a post-election matter the mandate enjoyed by an incumbent subsists until the tribunal or appellate courts rule otherwise.

“The court having found that the information Ikpeazu supplied about his tax payments was all false, ruled that he was not qualified to have participated in the primary election of PDP in December 2014, that all the votes he gathered at the said primaries were invalid and of no effect, in fact wasted.

“Since a general election has been held and the PDP won, Ikpeazu was asked to vacate his seat while the certificate of return should be issued to Ogah who came second during the primary election. He was ordered to be sworn in by the Chief Judge of Abia state immediately. Note the word used by the presiding judge was immediately.

“Enrollment order was procured by Dr Uche Ogah and INEC was served and they obeyed the extant judgment of the Federal High court by issuing Dr Ogah with the certificate of return”.

He dismissed the injunction granted Ikpeazu stopping the swearing in of Ogah.

He said:”I am not ignorant of the black market injunction allegedly obtained by Ikpeazu at Osisioma Ngwa High court restraining the Chief Judge of Abia state from swearing in Dr Ogah. “That interim order was premised on section 143 of the Electoral Act which is only applicable to judgments obtained in Election Tribunals, but not in pre-election matters.

“It is a laughable ruling not worth the paper it was written. For God’s sake, a high court in Abia is a court of coordinate jurisdiction with a Federal High court and so any order given by such court to contradict an earlier order of the same court is ipso facto null and void. It is only a higher court that has the legal capacity to reverse the earlier order or judgment”.

“Failure or delay to swear in Ogah as the duly elected Governor of Abia state is an unqualified affront to the rule of law and constitutional governance in a true democracy, and an act that is capable of undermining the peace and stability of the state.

“Ikpeazu has been duly removed as Abia state Governor and not amount of legal shenanigans and illegal public holidays will derail the law of the land taking full effect.  Ogah will be sworn-in in due course so as to avoid the dangerous power vacuum that currently exists in Abia State and for him to begin the urgent task of empowering Abians with his laudable developmental programmes already lined up.”

However, one of the PDP governorship aspirants in the December 2014 primaries, Sir Friday Nwosu, yesterday faulted the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which sacked Ikpeazu and declared Dr. Uche Ogah as governor.

Nwosu who is also challenging in court the validity of  the tax papers submitted  by Ikpeazu for the election  said he was the rightful candidate of the party.

The suit is being heard by  Justice A.I. Alagoa of the Federal High Court, Owerri.

Nwosu who spoke in a telephone interview with journalists stated that the court erred in law when it declared Ogah as governor since  he  (Ogah) refused to accept the result of the December 8, 2014 PDP primaries and thereafter petitioned the national leadership for a rerun of the exercise.

Nwosu said: “The judgment is in error and cannot stand judicial scrutiny. Dr. Uche Ogah should not be allowed to benefit from an exercise he totally condemned by refusing to sign the result and petitioning the party to conduct another primary election.

“He should wait for the rerun of the PDP primaries which he prayed for in his petition to the party. In the eyes of the law, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and Sir Friday Nwosu, were the only candidates who ran for the party primaries. Since Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has been disqualified, I remain the lawful candidate of the PDP and ought to be declared governor.

“Again, the PDP in its Constitution recognizes zoning of political offices. The 2015 governorship position was rightly zoned to Abia South in the spirit of justice and equity. Since Dr. Uche Ogah is a member of the PDP, he must abide with the decisions of the party. Therefore, he cannot emerge from behind to shortchange the people of Abia South.”

He said he has appealed the verdict and urged his teeming supporters across the state to remain law abiding, adding that justice would be served on his petition which is being heard by the court.

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