former National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh has said that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC was free to hold the rescheduled Anambra Central Senatorial Zone rerun election as an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court settled has settled the matter.
Chief Umeh who spoke to journalists in Awka in a news briefing said it became necessary to set the record straight following boastful statements by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige that the election will never hold until all pending cases were exhausted.
Umeh said Ngige in making the statement was being crafty as he knows the position of the law on the matter, and that his boastful speeches showed that he was leading his party into coercing INEC into dumping the conduct of the election as he(Umeh) had already gathered from reliable sources.
Umeh said, “Am surprised to read these audacious statements by Dr Chris Ngige, where he said the Anambra central rerun poll cannot hold until all pending cases are cleared. My surprise stems from the fact that I could not fathom under what capacity Ngige was saying categorically that the poll can never take place. He is the Minister of Labour and Employment, he does not work for INEC, that is empowered by the constitution to conduct elections.
“Am aware that the INEC has a legal department that s staffed by qualified lawyers, and if there is any matter that will prevent the commission from conducting election, the commission will say so at any point in time. This is not the first time that Ngige has made this claim, but saying the same thing at an APC meeting corroborates all what we have been hearing that APC will do everything to ensure that INEC does not conduct that election.”
Umeh said there was no legal impediment anymore against the conduct of Anambra central senatorial election. He said the cases Ngige sited as outstanding can not stop INEC from conducting that election.
“The issue of the eligible candidates who can take part in a court ordered fresh election or rerun election has been permanently settled by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in its judgment in a case between Labour Party versus INEC, whose judgment was delivered on the 13thFebruary 2009. That judgment was an endorsement of judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Kaduna Division on 10th April 2008, to the effect that elections that are ordered by court through nullification do not admit new candidates.
“Unfortunately, people like Ngige are pretending not to know this position of the law. As early as January 2016, when PDP and APC purported to be trying to conduct a primary to choose a candidate that will take part in the election, I cried out that the law does not permit such futile exercise, they didn’t want to accept it, and they continued. Today, it is clear because INEC submitted to this decision of the Supreme Court in the conduct of all the fresh election ordered by the Court of Appeal across the country, after the 2015 general elections.
He said all the candidates that were disqualified by the final decision of the Court of Appeal were not allowed to take part in fresh or rerun elections, and that it was like that in all over the country except in Anambra central election where some vested interests were bent on scuttling the election.
He took a swipe at Dr Ngige who had earlier withdrawn from the rerun poll, citing that he was on a national assignment as a minister, wondering why he did not want to run, but was interested in scuttling the rerun election, even when his party has been disqualified from presenting any other candidate that is not him.
Umeh called on the Buhari led federal government to beware of Ngige, who he accused of never having won an election all his life, but depended on being rigged into office.
“This is enough for President Buhari to sack him from the federal Executive Council for embarrassing APC and FG. Ngige did not make any contribution to make Buhari the president. Anambra central where he was angling to represent has not had a senator for close to two years and he is celebrating. He is bringing bad name to the Buhari led federal government, and should be sacked.”
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has said that it has not received any directive to conduct the Anambra Central rerun poll, that that it will do so once the directive is issued it.
Barr Thomas Ongele, the new Administrative secretary of the commission in Anambra stated this in a press briefing to issue directive on the continuous voters registration(CVR) which begins today(Thusrday) in Anambra.
He stated that the CVR which commences today will witness the registration of electorates, transfer of voters from state to state and unit to unit, as well as distribution of 126,300 PVCs, which were still in their possession in Anambra.