The Independent National Electoral Commission has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that it issued a certificate of return to Uche Ogah, on June 28, recognising him as governor-elect of Abia State, in compliance with the order made in the judgment of the court delivered June 27.
The INEC said this through its lawyer, Mr. Alhassan Umar, when a motion seeking a stay of the execution of the judgment sacking Okezie Ikpeazu as the governor of the state and also ordering the issuance of certificate of return to Ogah came up for hearing on Monday.
The motion for stay of execution of the judgment came up for hearing before Justice Okon Abang, who had delivered the verdict on June 27.
Umar was reacting to an application by Ikpeazu’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), for adjournment of the hearing of his client’s motion, till Thursday.
The lawyer said INEC had already issued the certificate of return before the processes of the notice of appeal against the judgment and a motion for stay of execution of the judgment, both filed by Ikpeazu, were served on the commission.
He added that the notice of appeal and the motion for stay of execution of the judgment did not operate as a stay of execution of a court’s verdict in a pre-election case.
According to him, the law will expressly state so if it intends to make a notice of appeal to operate as a stay of execution in a pre-election case.
He pointed out that why a notice of appeal operated as a stay of execution of a judgment delivered by an election petition tribunal in an election petition was because it was expressly provided for under section 143(1) of the Electoral Act.
“My lord ordered the third defendant to issue certificate of return forthwith and upon service of the order, my lord, on June 28, 2016, the 3rd defendant issued a certificate of return accordingly,” Umar said.
“The certificate of return was issued before we were served with the motion on June 28. We had issued the certificate upon being served with the court order.
“But the actual presentation of the certificate was on June 30. But we had complied with the order of my lord.”
Justice Abang had sacked Ikpeazu for allegedly disclosing false information in relation to his tax clearance details to the Independent National Electoral Commission in his form nominating him as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the last year’s governorship election in the state.