By David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
A Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prosecute the returning officer in the Anambra South senatorial election, Prof M.N. Umenweke, for declaring Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah winner of the election.
Ubah and Umenweke are facing criminal allegations levelled against them in the February 23 poll in the area by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Uba.
Uba had approached the court, praying for an order of mandamus compelling INEC to prosecute Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and others allegedly involved in the disorderly conduct that took place on February 23, 2019 at the Nnewi North Local Government Area headquarters, Nnewi that led to the announcement of the result of the inconclusive election held on the same day.
Umenweke had raised alarm while declaring the election result, which was won by Ifeanyi Ubah, saying he was doing so under duress, but later recanted.
Justice I.B. Gafaia, while presiding over the court in an application of mandamus sought from the court by Chris Uba in suit number: FHC/AWK/CS/29/2019, asked INEC to within 14 days conduct investigation into the matter for the purpose of prosecuting the respondents.
The order read in part: “Upon the honourable court having delivered a considered judgement today, it hereby ordered as follows: The 1st respondent (INEC) shall within 14 days from today conduct or cause investigation into the criminal allegations of the applicant (Chris Uba).
“Prosecute, if the investigation result so warrants, the 3rd respondent (Ifeanyi Uba) and any other person(s) implicated in its investigation.
“Where it considers it inexpedient to prosecute through its legal officers, consider at its liberty, the appointment of the applicant’s solicitors in this suit for the purpose of such prosecution.”
Uba had also asked for “a further order of mandamus compelling the 1st respondent to prosecute the 2nd (Prof M.N. Umenweke) for announcing or publishing a false result to the effect that the 3rd respondent had won the election held on the said 23/2/2019 even when they both knew that the said election was inconclusive and from which no genuine result had thereby been generated.
“And order of mandamus compelling the 1st respondent to prosecute the 2nd respondent for the offence of delivering or causing to be delivered to the 3rd respondent a false declaration of result/return to the effect that he won the election to the Senate of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria to represent Anambra South Senatorial District in the Senate even as he knew that the said election was still inconclusive.
“Alternatively and where it be inexpedient or impossible for the 1st respondent to undertake the prosecution, an order of mandamus compelling her to issue out an authority to any counsel in the law firm of the applicant to undertake the prosecution on the 1st respondent’s behalf”.