Court clears returning officer who allegedly declared Ubah winner under duress

A federal high court sitting in Awka, Anambra State, has exonerated Prof. Meshach N Umenweke of any wrong doing during the Anambra South senatorial election.
After Umenweke had declared Ifeanyi Ubah winner of the election, one of the contestants, Chris Uba went to court to contest that Ubah had forced the returning officer to declare him (Ifeanyi) winner under duress.

Delivering his judgement on the matter, Justice IB Gafai stated that Prof Umenweke has no case to answer and at best would serve as principal prosecution witness in the matter.

He held that the court was not dealing with a criminal trial, but to satisfy itself on whether there was a prima facie ground to proceed to investigate the allegations of the applicant or not.

He said: “What I can however safely say categorically here, with all humility, arising from the facts is that the 2nd Respondent Prof Umenweke, in fairness, may at best be a principal prosecution witness on the combined facts.”

The judge held that the duty to investigate and prosecute lies with the 1st respondent, INEC, and not the Nigeria Police Force or any other investigative body as it seems to be erroneously contended by the respondents that they have not been investigated by the Police.

The court further asked the 1st respondent to “within 14 days from day of the judgment to conduct or cause investigation into the criminal allegations of the applicant”.


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