Five days to the exchange of baton in Abia, political space in the God’s own State has become so tense.
This is as a result of the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Kano, last Friday, which ruled in favour of an application brought by one Ibrahim Haruna-Ibrahim against the candidates of Labour Party, LP in Kano and Abia States.
The ruling nullified the candidacy of Labour Party candidates in Kano and Abia States in the last general election and also faulted the Certificates of Return issued to the candidates who emerged victorious in the last general election.
The ruling, though delivered in Kano State, registered a far-reaching impact in Abia State where the party recorded guber victory in the person of Governor-elect, Alex Chioma Otti.
The judgement has sparked condemnation from adherents of the Labour Party in Abia State, most of whom see it as an attempt to ‘re-write’ their May 29 history.
The ruling has also regurgitated the pre-election bad blood between LP and PDP in Abia State, with accusations and denials dominating the air.
The ruling, in far away Kano, has also raised anxiety in the minds of Labour Party members and supporters that their hard-fought victory is under threat.
Ferdinand Ekeoma, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Abia Governor-elect, Alex Otti believes that his principal is the real target of the Kano Court ruling.
On Friday, during a press conference held in Umuahia to condemn the judgement, Ekeoma fingered the Abia State government and the PDP in the State for allegedly being behind the attempt to scuttle the Governor-elect’s swearing-in on May 29.
Ekeoma, who called for calm among LP supporters and of course Abians, said nothing would stop the handover of power to Otti on May 29.
But in a quick reaction, the Abia State chapter of the PDP denied sponsoring any suit against the Labour Party or the Governor-elect, Alex Otti.
PDP in a statement by Elder Amah Abraham, the Vice Chairman Abia North/acting Publicity Secretary made it clear that his party never took Otti or his party to court.
He said Abia PDP was much focused on the election tribunal case against Otti, where Amah believes his party would triumph.
PDP, according Abraham, however, had mandated its team of lawyers to study the Kano judgement.
“Studying the judgement as interpreted by an Aba-based political scientist, Chimerie Ebitu may mean that PDP even though it did not drag Otti to Kano, may still be hoping to pick needful materials from the Kano
“In law, no material is useless. If it is useless for the suit in the present, it may be needful in a future suit”, said Ebitu.
He cautioned Abia LP and Otti not to dismiss the Kano Federal High Court ruling with a mere wave of hand but to “prepare a water-tight legal team” before and after his take over on May 29.
The political scientist recalled how Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was removed in June 2015 by the judgement Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court, Abuja, which also ordered that the Certificate of Return given to him be collected by INEC.
According to Ebitu, the High Court had directed that Dr Uche Ogah be sworn-in as Governor but it took the quick legal vigilance and action of Ikpeazu’s lawyers for an Abia High Court to stop the swearing-in of Ogah before the Court of Appeal eventually quashed the ruling of Federal High Court and reaffirmed Ikpeazu’s mandate.
Also speaking, Governor-elect, Otti said the mandate given to him by Abians remained sacrosanct and cannot be taken away by anyone.
He did not, however, leave any chances as he explained that his lawyers have been informed about it.
Otti said there was no room for complacency regarding the attempts of his enemies to take away his mandate.
“However, eternal vigilance is required when you have enemies around you,” Otti said.
Different individuals in Abia , including a popular lawyer, Monday Ubani have also spoken on the matter and cautioned that it be carefully handled to prevent a crisis in the God’s Own State.
But as the heat of worry was cascading the minds of Labour Party members and Alex Otti’s lovers, the Publicity Secretary of LP, Mr Jerry Njoku and the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Otti, Ferdinand Ekeoma issued a fresh but joint press release, alleging that there is an ongoing plot to install an interim government in Abia.
The joint press statement alleged that Abia State PDP and an unnamed chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, APC, from Abia State were the brains behind the new plots.
According to Ekeoma and Njoku, there is a plot to use an accomplice at the national office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue another Certificate of Return to a different person, alleging further that a Judge from Abia State was also involved in the plot.
The release described the unnamed individuals in the alleged plot as ‘Civilian Coupists’.
But the Abia State chapter of PDP has maintained its innocence on the allegations, saying that it did not drag Otti to the Federal High Court, Kano, but was only challenging his guber victory at the election petitions tribunal where it believes it will get justice.
The Vice Chairman Abia North/ acting Publicity Secretary, Abraham, also rejected the latest allegations linking his party to an interim government plot.
He advised the Governor-elect and his party to avoid making utterances and allegations that may stoke ‘unnecessary tension’ in Abia.
And like a film approaching its climax, the dominant topics of discussion in the State in the last few days have been the “Kano Judgement” and “May 29 handover day”.
A chieftain of the Labour Party from Abia Central, who spoke under anonymity, told DAILY POST that no true member of his party is at ease of mind presently because of what he called the bad ruling from Kano.
The LP chieftain, however, said his members have been fervent in begging God for a smooth swearing-in of Otti as Governor-elect.
True to this, Alex Otti’s campaign office at Library Avenue, Umuahia, was on Monday, filled with a large number of prayer warriors who were seen, crying unto God not allow any plan to deny their man, Otti, his mandate.