Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
A Federal High Court in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, yesterday nullified and voided the local government election held on July 30, 2022, in the state.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Fatun Riman, in a suit No: FHC/AI/CS/151/2022 ruled that the conduct of the state local government election was undemocratic and unlawful, and therefore declared it null and void.
The court also restrained the state government from appointing Caretaker Committee or anyone in whatsoever nomenclature to oversee the affairs of the 13 council areas of the state.
The Judge further ruled that the tenures of the incumbent council chairmen and 171 ward councillors would expire on August 2023.
Speaking to journalists in Abakaliki, the counsel to the plaintiff, Mudi Erhenedi, commended the Federal High Court for upholding justice in Ebonyi State.
Erhenedi said: “It is undemocratic and unlawful to conduct an election into the local government areas or councils without availing the plaintiffs with the exact law that is meant to regulate the exercise.
“There are a lot of other issues which did not comply with the Electoral Act 2022. The Electoral Act 2022 said the procedures for conducting elections into the local government areas by State Electoral Commissions (SEC) must comply with that procedure for conducting into Area Councils in the FCT.
“If you look at it, how do you access compliance without law? If you hide the law with which you want to conduct the election, is it not when you make the law public that we will know how to comply with it. How can you be making laws and hiding them?
“My position now is that my clients demanded to be availed of this law, we came under the Freedom of Information Act. We wrote to EBSIEC, House of Assembly, and INEC whose responsibilities all of these bodies refused to provide us the law.”
Meanwhile, the state Governor, David Umahi, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Chooks Okoh, noted that the election followed all laid down procedures.
Umahi said: “Being law-abiding, the governor enjoins all Ebonyians to go about their businesses peacefully while our lawyers study the judgement to determine the best way forward. His belief in the judiciary as the bastion of justice and equity remains unshaken.”