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Tight security in Abia Govt House as court rules Monday

Okezie Ikpeazu

Following the issuance of a certificate of return to Mr. Uche Ogah by the Independent National Electoral Commission and his anticipated swearing-in ceremony, security has been beefed up at the Abia State Government House in Umuahia.

This is as Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has been holding meetings non-stop with his advisers.

Last Monday, the Federal High Court in Abuja sacked Ikpeazu and ordered Ogah to take over. The court has also fixed Monday for hearing of a motion asking for a stay of execution of the judgment.

The motion for a stay of execution of the judgment was filed by Ikpeazu through his lead counsel, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN).

It was learnt that Ikpeazu got wind of Ogah’s move to be sworn in on Thursday while going to deliver an inaugural lecture at the Abia State University, Uturu. The governor was said to have quickly cancelled the programme and raced back to the Government House with his aides.

After the security meeting, a group of youths suspected to be party loyalists were drafted into the Government House.

On Saturday, five Hilux police patrol vans were sighted strategically positioned at the entrance gate of the Government House.

Stern-looking mobile police officers and men were also seen scrutinising the few people, mostly workers, going into the facility.

The only gate opened to visitors was the exit gate, where scores of policemen and officials of the Department of State Services were stationed to scrutinise vehicles coming into or leaving the place.

Meanwhile, the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has said that it will not punish Ogah for taking Ikpeazu to court.

Rather, it said it would look for an amicable solution to the crisis generated as a result of the favourably court judgment obtained by Ogah against the governor.

The Federal High Court had said Ogah should be made the governor because of the alleged irregularities in the tax clearance presented by Ikpeazu to the PDP.

Spokesperson for the party’s caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, said, “We are not thinking of punishing anyone. We are not going to sanction Ogah because of his action. Rather, we would look for ways to settle the rift.

“I think we should rather blame INEC for its decision to issue the certificate when the appeal of the governor is still pending and when the commission had been served.

“Though the commission claimed that the appeal it was served didn’t contain a stay of execution, the normal thing in law is that when an appeal has been lodged, the execution of the earlier judgment waits.”

Also, the police have said their concern was to maintain law and order in Abia and ensure that there is no breach of the peace.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Donald Awunah, said the police would enforce the law in line with its constitutional mandate.

Asked if the force would provide security for Ogah or withdraw Ikpeazu’s, Awunah declined to speak categorically.

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