The Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, has nullified the local government areas election conducted by the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) in July 2022 for non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and for making the laws under which it was conducted secret.
EBSIEC conducted an election for the 13 council areas and 171 ward councillors on July 30, 2022 with APC winning all the seats.
Some aggrieved individuals, including Otu Collins Eleri, Nelson Eze, Akaa Ikechikwu, Micheal Ali, and Isu Amaechi had dragged the electoral body and the government to court for not giving all the aspirants a level playing ground during the election.
The presiding judge, Justice Fatun Riman in Suit No: FHC/AI/CS/151 said it was undemocratic and unlawful to conduct an election in the local government areas without availing the plaintiffs of the exact law meant to regulate the exercise.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mudiaga Erhenede, argued that the processes that produced the chairmen were not transparent.
Mudi said, “There are a lot of other issues not in compliance with the electoral act 2022. “The electoral act 2022 said the procedures for conducting elections in the local government areas by state commissioners must comply with that procedure for conducting into area councils in the FCT.
“If you look at it, how do you assess compliance without law if you hide the law with which you want to conduct the election?
“My position is that my clients demanded to be availed of this law, we came under the Freedom of Information Act demanding the procedure to conduct elections. We wrote to EBSIEC, we wrote to the House of Assembly, and we wrote to INEC whose responsibilities all of these bodies refused to provide us with the law.”
Meanwhile, the Ebonyi State Government has reacted to Thursday’s court judgment and said the state lawyers shall study the judgment to determine the best way forward.
A statement issued by Chooks Oko, the special assistant to the governor (media & strategy), urged Ebonyians to remain law abiding while the law takes its course.
The statement read, “The attention of the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi has been drawn to the curious ruling of the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki Thursday nullifying July 30, 2022, local government elections held across the state.
“It is on record that none of the grounds of the litigants included nullification of the election but the court bizarrely came up with such an order.
“The election, generally acknowledged as peaceful and orderly, produced our incoming leaders at the local government level having followed all laid-down procedures to the letter.
“Being law-abiding, the governor enjoins all Ebonyians to go about their businesses peacefully while our lawyers study the judgment to determine the best way forward,” the statement said.