Senate ticket: Umahi loses in court, risks prosecution

Governor Dave Umahi’s intention to retiree to the Nigerian Senate after completing his constitutionally-allowed tenures as Ebonyi State helmsman may have hit the brick wall.

Mr Umahi had contested for the presidential ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) but lost to Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor. While he contested for the position, his younger brother, Austin, vied and won the senatorial ticket of the ruling party for Ebonyi South Senatorial district in May.

Mr Austin later withdrew from the race when his elder brother lost the presidential ticket to pave way for another primary election on June 9, 2022 where Mr Umahi was said to have won unopposed.

An aspirant, Ann Agom-Eze, who came second during the first primary election approached a federal high court sitting in Abakiliki, the state capital, seeking to be recognized as the candidate of the APC after the withdrawal of the governor’s younger brother.

Delivering judgement on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman cited section 115 of the Electoral Act 2022, saying the governor was not an aspirant and could not have participated in the election or pre-election matters of the APC as regards the Ebonyi South zone whose primary held on May 28, 2022.

According to the cited section of the new Electoral Act, the governor neither procured forms for, nor participated in the election, and could not, therefore, claim any right based on the primary election.

The judge ruled in favour of Ms Agom-Eze as the authentic APC candidate for the senatorial district discarding the outcome of the second primary election.

The quoted section states that it was illegal for a politician to participate in two primaries in the same election cycle, an action, rights lawyer, Abdul Mahmud, said amounts to a crime if authorities are to act on the court pronouncement.

“If that’s the case, Umahi appears to have committed a crime under Section 115 of the Electoral Act for which he should be interviewed by the police, preparatory to a formal criminal trial after his tenure ends as a Governor,” Mr Mahmud said in a tweet on Friday.