Rights activists and a former national secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) are divided over the lingering governorship crisis in Abia State.
Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and his challenger, Uche Ogah are locked in a bitter battle for the seat.
Three weeks ago, the Federal High Court in Abuja sacked Ikpeazu and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Ogah as the valid candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the November 2014 governorship primary in Abia State.
The court held that Ikpeazu submitted forged tax certificate in order to participate in the primary.
A day after, INEC issued Ogah the certificate. On his way to Abia to enforce the ruling, a state High Court gave a stay of execution.
While activists insist the order of the Abuja court in Abuja should be obeyed, former NBA scribe, Dele Adesina said as long as Ikpeazu has appealed the judgment, he remains in office.
“As long as appeal has been filed against the judgment and there is stay of execution, it will be totally wrong and illegal for INEC to issue certificate of return to another person.
“It will be premature for INEC to execute the judgment, it is a wrong step in the right direction,” Adesina said.
Activist and constitutional lawyer, Fred Agbaje, in his reaction, stated: “We are in a free society where anything goes. He said INEC’s action was an affront on judiciary. Since there is an appeal, the commission needed to have waited for the outcome of Court of Appeal on the matter before taking any step.
“The action of the commission is illegal and can not stand the test of law. What the commission did was to donate power to an opponent of the governor. What if the Court of Appeal upturns the judgment?
“The action of the commission is unacceptable in law and it is illegal,” he said.
Edo state-born activist and lawyer, Dele Igbinedion differed on the matter.
He said once there is judgment, it must be obeyed by the parties.
“An appeal was not an excuse for not obeying court order, INEC’s action was based on a court judgment directing it to issue certificate of return to Ogah.
“The commission was in line with the Constitution and it was legal because there was a court judgment to that effect.
“It is the right of the governor to file an appeal against the judgment but, that does not mean that the judgment was not in existence.
“The moment the court made pronouncement on the matter, the judgment came to existence.
“Besides, issuance of certificate of return to Ogah by the electoral commission was legal.
“Nature does not allow vacuum; even our Constitution does not allow that.
“The judgment created a vacuum and somebody must fill that vacuum and issuance of certificate of return to Ogah by the commission was to fill the vacuum,” he said.
“Appeal or no appeal illegality cannot be allowed to continue”, he said.