April 22, 2021

Disengaged Imo council bosses accuse judge of bias, to petition NJC

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The sacked elected local government officials in Imo State have vowed to petition National Judicial Council (NJC) over the judgement given by Justice E.F. Njemanze nullifying their election.

The judge had last Friday declared the election of the 27 LGA chairmen conducted during the tenure of ex-governor Rochas Okorocha on the 25th day of August 2018, as null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

Njemanze also ordered all the former 27 LGA chairmen to return to the state government, all salaries and allowances paid to them before they were dissolved.

But reacting to the judgement in a briefing with journalists in Owerri, the State capital, Chairman of Isiala Mbano LGA, Jude Mbachu, who spoke on behalf of the sacked officials, faulted the judgement and accused the judge of bias.

According to Mbachu, the council officials had decided to petition the National Judicial Council and the Nigerian Bar Association over the judgement because “we are of the view that that judgement was given out of hate.

“The judge used our matter to settle scores which his family has with the former governor, Rochas Okorocha over the dismantling of Njemanze Dynasty.

“When we noticed this, we wrote a petition asking him to recuse himself because we didn’t have confidence in him. Our position is that you cannot have an election matter that has been with you for over two years and you are not doing anything about it. He knew about the petition. But he continued the matter in spite of that. Instead, he came to court to ask about who is Barr. Mbagwu. It was Mbagwu who signed the petition then”.

Mbachu, who disclosed that they had already headed to the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgement, insisted that “the judgement can’t stand because the Supreme Court had decided the matter on 2018 Imo council election in 2019. The matter was between Dr. Martins Nwoga versus the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC); Attorney General of Imo State, Governor of Imo State and Adauctus Onuoha

“It was in suit number HOW/654/2018 at the High Court; CA/OW/102/2019 at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court SC/642/2019. The courts including the Supreme Court still upheld the election as duly conducted in strict compliance of the electoral act.

“It was the issue of the local government chairmanship primaries which ten persons from Ahiazu Mbaise contested. But the appellant felt dissatisfied that there was no primary election and went to court.

“Again, the matter was a post-election matter and a trial court is not supposed to take on it. It’s an election petition tribunal that should have jurisdiction on that matter. It was instituted about five months after we were sworn in as elected local government officials.

“We’re not even talking about the affirmation of our election by the Federal High Court on July 1st, 2022, where Justice Tijjani Ringim said that we were validly elected.

The Nation

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