Umahi Losses Ebonyi South Senatorial Seat To Agom-Eze
— As Judge Warns Him Of Likely 2 Year Jail Term If He Files An Appeal Against The Ruling
By Udochukwu Samuel
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi, has lost his last minute bid to grab a Senatorial ticket for 2023 Elections.
It would be recalled that Umahi contested for All Progressive Congress Presidential ticket and lost at the primaries.
The second term Governor thereafter shifted his interest to APC’s ticket of his Ebonyi South Senatorial seat.
But the governor, on Friday, lost to Ann Agom-Eze at the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki.
Ebonyi State’s APC has been troubled since the governor lost the presidential bid and diverted his interest in the ticket to the Red Chamber.
The contention has been built on who, between Umahi and Agom-Eze, should be the authentic candidate of the APC for the Ebonyi South Senatorial District.
But on Friday, the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki ruled against Governor Umahi.
The classical battle in APC for Ebonyi South Senatorial seat has become both instructive and interesting because Agom-Eze, who the court declared the authentic candidate, actually came second in the APC Senatorial Primary Election for Ebonyi South Senatorial District, conducted in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
It was actually Governor David Umahi’s younger brother, Austin Umahi, that came first in the primary election.
However, in a controversial or curious circumstances, Austin Umahi withdrew from the election and allegedly relinquished the ticket to his elder brother, Governor David Umahi.
Trouble started when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) frowned at the arrangement and went ahead to omit Umahi’s name from their published list of candidates for the 2023 General Election.
It is also on record that INEC refuted Governor Umahi’s claim that he was elected an APC Senatorial candidate in a primary election when the electoral body said it never monitored the alleged rerun exercise, which purportedly announced the governor as the senatorial candidate of the APC.
It was as a result of this refuttal that Umahi went to the Federal High Court in Abakaliki, through his counsel, Roy Nweze Umahi, to seek an order of court to compel INEC to publish his name as the senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South Senatorial District.
At that point, Ann Agom-Eze applied to be joined in the suit.
Delivering the judgment, which has been described as landmark, Justice Fatun Riman cited section 115 of the Electoral Act, which forbids a person from standing two different primary elections in the same year.
He said that such a person, if found claiming to have participated in two primary elections, risks a two year jail term.
He further affirmed that the authentic Senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South Senatorial District of the APC was Mrs. Ann Agom-Eze, since Mr. Austin Umahi withdrew from the race.
The judge reminded Governor Umahi that should he choose to file an appeal against his ruling, he risks attracting to himself a two-year jail term.