Anambra South Election: Federal High Court Vindicates Returning Officer 

Raymond Ozoji, Awka

The Returning Officer for Anambra South Senatorial zone in the just concluded 2019 general election, Prof Meshach Umenweke, was on Wednesday exonerated from any wrong doing during the election  by the Federal High Court Awka presided over by Justice IB Gafai.

Umenweke had declared Ifeanyi Uba the winner of the election but one of the losers took him as second respondent, INEC as first respondent and Ifeanyi Ubah as 3rd respondent to court for investigation and prosecution for false declaration of result.

Delivering his judgement, Justice Gafai stated that Prof Umenweke has no case to answer and at best would serve as principal prosecution witness in the matter.

He held that the court was not dealing with a criminal trial, but to satisfy itself on whether there was a prima facie ground to proceed to investigate the allegations of the Applicant or not.

He stated, “What I can however safely 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, for he it is who knows who and who it was and there may be many that committed the alleged threats and intimidations on him, if at all”.

The Awka Federal High Court judge informed that the duty to investigate and prosecute lies with the 1st respondent, INEC and not the Nigerian Police force or any other investigative body as it seems to be erroneously contended by the respondents that they have not been investigated by the Police.

The court further asked the 1st respondent to, within 14 days from the day of the judgment, conduct or cause investigation into the criminal allegations of the applicant and prosecute, if the investigation result so warrants, the 3rd respondent and any other persons implicated in its investigation.

Chief Chris Uba had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Umenweke and Chief Ifeanyi Ubah to court over alleged declaring of inconclusive election result.

Uba sought for an order of Mandamus compelling the 1st Respondent, INEC to undertake the prosecution of 3rd respondent and cohorts allegedly involved in disorderly conduct that took place in Nnewi North LGA that led to announcement of inconclusive election to elect Senator representing Anambra South.

Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was announced winner of that election eventually but Chief Chris Uba went to court contesting that.

But the court never ordered the investigation of the returning officer as was erroneously reported in the dailies.

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