Edo by-elections: controversy trails alleged court order

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In the last two days, there have been accusations and counter-accusations trailing an alleged interim order granted in a ruling of the Federal High Court Abuja, restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting by-elections to fill the vacant seats in the Edo State House of Assembly.

Edo State House of Assembly
Edo State House of Assembly

The said ruling which was alleged to have been delivered by Hon. Justice Ahmed Mohammed of Court 4, Federal High Court Abuja, on Tuesday, the 7th of January, 2020 was adumbrated by Washington Osifo, one of the absentee lawmakers of the Assembly, whose seat was declared vacant.

Osifo made this statement on Channels Tv's Sunrise Daily the 9th of January, 2020 edition, which was monitored by our reporter.

According to Osifo, who is also a lawyer, "the Court in its ruling ordered INEC not to do anything in respect of those 14 seats".

But, a constitutional lawyer, Andrew Emwanta who participated in the current affairs programme via Skype, said the alleged interim restraining order was a phantom and fake news been fabricated and circulated by Osifo.

The Publicity Secretary of Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Nehikhare, who participated in the programme via a telephone call said his party regards the action of the Speaker of the State Assembly in declaring the seats of the absentee lawmakers vacant a good development.

Though he argued that INEC should instead of conducting by-elections apply the doctrine of necessity in declaring the PDP candidates as winners of the 14 seats because they were the 1st runners up during the 2019 Assembly elections.

From a reliable source from the Court who did not want to be named, the Court had directed INEC to file an affidavit in response to the request for an injunction, whether or not the Commission would oppose the application.

"The Court also directed that hearing notices be served on the Speaker of the House, while adjourning the matter to the 28th of January, 2020 for the hearing of the motion for an injunction."

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