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Umahi Risks Jail Term as Court Over Failed Presidential, Senatorial Bids



Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. Dave Umahi risks jail term for contesting the All Progressives Congress presidential ticket and Ebonyi South Senatorial ticket of the party election, two primaries in one electioneering season. The provision of the 2022 electoral act forbids that.

However, Governor Umahi suffered a double blow on Friday as his bid to transition from Ebonyi Governorship to the senate in 2023 was quashed by a Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, the state capital.

The court ruled that Umahi was not eligible to be the APC Senate candidate for Ebonyi South, which he decided to pursue shortly after the failed presidential primaries.

The court after dismissing Umahi’s bid to get judicial relief after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) omitted his name in the list it published recently, handed the ticket to Mrs. Ann Agom-Eze, based on the withdrawal of the governor’s younger brother, Austin Umahi.

Agom-Eze emerged runners up in the primaries won by the governor’s younger brother, making her the next option after Umahi’s withdrawal ostensibly to allow the governor pick the ticket as a replacement, which the electoral law does not permit.

Last minutes efforts by Roy Nweze Umahi, who had dragged the electoral umpire to the court in Abakaliki, to compel it recognise the governor as the authentic senatorial candidate failed woefully, after Agom-Eze, on Tuesday, approached the same court to ask that she be joined in the matter as an interested party.

Nweze had argued that the governor’s name should be recognised by INEC, since the previous owner of the mandate had withdrawn for the governor, a plea the court had no equivocation to dismiss on the ground that the governor’s name was not in the original ballot.

Justice Fatun Riman, while dismissing the matter, cited section 115 of the Electoral Act 2022, saying the governor was not an aspirant and could not participate in the election or pre-election matters of the APC as regards the primaries, which held on the 28th day of May, 2022.

Relying on the section of the law, he stressed that the governor neither procured forms for nor participated in the election, nor could he now claim any right based on the primary election.

The latest development is coming on the heels of a similar treatment meted to for mer Governor of Akwa Ibom State, with Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), explaining that what Umahi tried to do, could earn him jail term, as politicians who procured multiple forms were criminals and risked two years imprisonment.

Agom-Eze, through her lawyer, Nwonu Nnaemeka, said his team’s argument was its client, upon the withdrawal of Austin Umahi from the primary, should claim all her rights as regards the exercise, being the second runner-up.

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