Leader of a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State, Olorogun Otega Omerhor, said on Tuesday that the state chapter of the party has been left with no other option than to commit the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, to prison for violation of court order.
Emerhor, who also contested Delta Central Senatorial District in the primaries stated this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja that the Chairman of INEC has so far refused to obey court orders which restrained him from recognising candidates that emerged in parallel primaries conducted by the two factions of Delta state APC.
But INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Publicity and Voter Education, Barrister Festus Okoye, said on Tuesday that the Commission was confronted with a barrage of court orders on the Delta primaries, adding that the commission did not deliberately ignore any court order.
According to him, the commission has opened its doors to the possibility of effecting change once a valid court gives a final order on the contentious primaries.
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He said: “INEC cannot flout court orders. It derives its powers from the constitution. There have been multiple court orders arising from the primaries and we have been attending to them.”
Emerhor, however, stated that in view of the factional crisis rocking the state chapter of the APC, his group had approached the court and secured a court order stopping INEC from publishing the names of candidates for National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly posts, but stated that INEC had gone ahead to disobey the court order.
According to him, the APC faction has served the Commission with Form 48, to start the contempt of court proceedings adding that the party would have no choice than to slam contempt charge on the Inec Chairman and commit him to prison.
He said: that his faction of APC in Delta had also written the electoral commission twice through the counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN but added that INEC had so far ignored the party.
He said: “It’s very clear that we have no choice than to go for committal to prison of the INEC Chairman. That will be our next step because we cannot accept that a court will give an order and INEC will not obey.
“I can understand if the APC does not want to even obey, not that I understand it, but because the prior action of the Chairman has shown that he does not take our group seriously. So, I can understand that and if you want to damn the consequences of the court as a partisan in this matter, I can understand it, but not the INEC Chairman. The INEC Chairman ought to be independent because the constituency of the country is his. He has no personal interest in this matter. So, you ought to obey the court.”
He stated that when his group noticed the actions of INEC by refusing to obey the court order, it got Chief Ozekhome to engage the commission.
He said: “We engaged Chief Mike Ozekhome, a SAN, when we noticed their silence, to again write to INEC and to the National Chairman, forwarding these orders. I’m bringing it again to their attention, which we know they know and the consequences of disobeying a court order and bringing out this point that we have not heard anything from them.
“We suspect they want to disobey this order. We got Ozekhome again to write the second letter to INEC and even at that, INEC has not responded. We thought that, having defied the order in the submission of the National Assembly candidates, having the form 48, having written two letters through a SAN to them, having sent our people to go and engage their legal department on a formal basis and they kept mute, not even trying to explain what is going on, we thought that in the Governorship and the State Assembly list, they would obey the order. But, as we speak, they still published the candidates’ list.”
He added: “INEC has made zero pronouncement on this matter as if Delta issue does not exist; maybe because I am not a Governor or we don’t have high profile people who INEC feel can make an issue out of this.
“But democracy equalizes everybody. It’s one man, one vote. I contested as a Governorship candidate in 2015. If I had won, I would be Governor. I am the leader of the party. We have issues in Delta. I led the mainstream of the party that started the party. We admitted the other group to come and enhance the capacity of the party. But now, they’ve decided to work on their own. Even the National Chairman who should have brought everybody together decided to support them. At least he should obey the court and let the court decide. He has the choice of bringing us all together so that we can take cases from the court and then this can be settled as a family matter in the party. He did not take those options. He continued to support one side of the faction in Delta State. So, we have no choice than to fight for the truth in Delta and it’s only the court that can do this.
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