Anambra Polls: Judge discharges Returning Officer, acquits him of wrongdoing

Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 4 April 2019 | 1,005 times

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 Justice IB Gafar has discharged the Returning Officer for the Anambra South Senatorial zone in the recent National Assembly election, Prof Meshac Umenweke, of any wrongdoing.

Umenweke had at the end of collation of results declared Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, candidate of Young Progressive Party (YPP), winner of the election but one of the contestants, Chief Chris Ubah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), rejected the result and headed to court for further investigation and prosecution for alleged false declaration of result.

Uba sought for an order of Mandamus compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “to undertake the prosecution of Prof Umenweke and cohorts involved in disorderly conduct that took place in Nnewi North LGA which led to announcement of inconclusive election to elect a Senator for the Anambra South.”

He sued Umenweke as second respondent, INEC as first respondent and Ifeanyi Ubah as 3rd respondent.

Delivering the judgment on Wednesday at Federal High Court in Awka, the judge said that Umenweke has no case to answer but would rather serve as principal prosecution witness in the matter.

He insisted that the court was not dealing with a criminal case, but only working to find out if there was a prima facie ground to proceed to investigate the allegations of the applicant or not.

His words: “What I can say categorically here, with all humility, arising from the facts is that the 2nd Respondent, Prof Umenweke, in fairness, may at best, be a principal prosecution witness on the combined facts, and there may be many that committed the alleged threats and intimidations on him, if at all.” Justice Gafar affirmed that the duty to investigate and prosecute lies with the electoral umpire.

The court further asked the 1st respondent to, “within 14 days from day of the judgment, conduct or cause investigation into the criminal allegations of the applicant.

“Prosecute, if the investigation result so warrants, the 3rd respondent and any other persons implicated in its investigation.”


Source: News Express

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