Court orders prosecution of returning officer for Anambra South senatorial district

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A Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prosecute the returning officer for Anambra South senatorial district, Prof M.N. Umenweke, for declaring Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) as winner of the election.

Ubah and Umenweke are facing criminal allegations levelled against them by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Chris Uba in respect of the  February 23 poll national assembly election.

Uba had approached the court, praying for an order of mandamus compelling INEC to prosecute the YPP senator-elect 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 day.

Umenweke had raised the alarm while declaring the election result won by Ifeanyi Ubah that he (Umenweke) was doing so under duress.

But he recanted it later.

Justice I.B. Gafaia, while delivering judgement in the suit marked FHC/AWK/CS/29/2019, asked INEC to conduct investigation into the matter within 14 days for the purpose of prosecuting the respondents.

“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,” the judge ruled.

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.”

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