Tuesday, March 19, 2019 11:15 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Political tension in Rivers has now reached a feverish pitch following an interim order by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from continuing with the collation and declaration of results of the Governorship and House of Assembly elections held in the State on Saturday, March 9.
The electoral body had issued a statement last Saturday that collation of the results which it had suspended would resume after a stakeholders’ meeting which was planned for Wednesday, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
But in the ruling made on Tuesday, Justice Inyang Ewa of the ordered INEC not to proceed as it had planned until the court would have made a final pronouncement on the matter.
The interim order was based on an ex parte application brought before the court by AAC candidates in the polls.
The applicants prayed the court for an order of Interim Injunction restraining INEC from resuming, collating or announcing the result of the suspended elections in Rivers State in respect of the election to the office of Governor and the Houses of Assembly.
In granting the prayer of the Applicant, Inyang Ewa ordered INEC to appear before the court on Friday, March 22 for hearing of the suit filed.
Inyang affirmed that the court will give its final order after it concludes the suits brought before it by the plaintiffs.
INEC, through its lead counsel, Ransome Uwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, had approached the court with a motion challenging its jurisdiction, the application was however, overruled by the honourable court.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mohammed Abali, however, objected to the application of INEC, informing the court that the order issued on Monday asking the electoral body to show cause why the requests of the plaintiffs should not be granted had not been obeyed.
Consequently, the trial judge ordered the electoral umpire to halt the proceedings until the court would have made the final order on the matter.