Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Abia Governor-Elect, Dr Alex Otti, has alleged that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Abia State Government, were behind his purported sack by a Federal High Court sitting in Kano.
Otti who addressed a press conference in Umuahia in the wake of the controversial court ruling, said that the ruling party was desperately looking for ways to perpetuate itself in power.
The governor-elect who spoke through his Media Adviser, Ferdinand Ekeoma, said that contrary to sponsored media propaganda by the ruling party, the court never made any order sacking him or any Labour Party candidate in Abia.
He said that Kano court has no jurisdiction over Abia, hence the ‘black market’ judgment will not stand.
Otti said he was not joined in the suit that gave rise to the purported ruling, alleging that the ruling party and the State Government are sponsoring the (judicial coup) to possibly distract him.
Reading from a written speech, he said said: “The report being sponsored and widely circulated by the PDP and Abia State Government alleging that a Kano high court has sacked the Abia Governor-Elect, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, is baseless, unfounded and misleading, and thus should be ignored.
“For the records, though the perpetrators targeted the Abia Governor-Elect and the people of Abia in that legal coup, they were not courageous enough to confront him in the open, hence he was never joined as a party for fear that his eminently qualified lawyers would take the perpetrators to the cleaners.
“To put the records straight and reassure our teeming supporters and millions of Abians who are still celebrating the liberation of Abia, we wish to emphatically state that the Federal High Court in Kano did not issue any order on Abia Labour Party candidates nor the Governor-Elect, Dr. Alex Otti because, unlike those who brought the suit to steal the Abia peoples’ mandate, the court was conscious of its powers and careful not not to fall into the booby trap set for it by the PDP and Abia State Government.”
But in a swift reaction, Abia PDP absolved itself from the matter saying the party has no hands in it.
PDP Acting Publicity Secretary, and Vice Chairman in charge of Abia North, Elder Abraham Amah, said the party was not involved in the suit, but only got to know about it after judgment had been delivered.
He, however, said that PDP’s legal team was already studying the judgment with a view to exploring it in the pending petition against Otti at the tribunal.
Amah expressed optimism of recovering its stolen mandate at the election petition tribunal.
Meanwhile, Otti explained that those who went in search of the black market judgment lacked the locus to even institute such a matter against him since they were never members of the Labour Party.
Otti also said that a Federal High Court sitting in Abia had dismissed similar suit earlier instituted by the PDP against some LP House of Representatives candidates.
“The Federal High Court in Abia had entertained similar cases as pre-election matters involving some PDP candidates vs LP candidates, and the matters were adjudicated up to the Supreme Court. In all the cases, Labour Party won at the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court respectively.”
Otti further argued that the suit was dead on arrival, being a pre-election matter.
“The case brought by the petitioners is a pre-election matter and under Section 285(14)(a) of the Electoral Act, the petitioners have no locus standi as they were not aspirants in LP. Section 285 (9), requires that it must be filed within 14 days of the occurrence of the event. In other words, the suit should have been filed before the end of June last year. On the contrary, this suit was filed on May 11, 2023 and a week later, the very “efficient” Judge delivered judgment.
“Like earlier stated, the FHC in Kano does not have jurisdiction over Abia State, therefore it is impossible for any decision emanating from the court to have effect on Dr. Alex Otti who was not a party to the suit in Kano. It therefore exposes PDP’s gullibility to have expected the court to make an order against Dr. Otti, an action that would have incurred the wrath of the NJC.
“For purposes of further elucidation, Dr. Alex Otti became the Governorship Candidate of Labour Party on 09 June 2022, then any pre-election litigation questioning his candidacy must have been commenced not later than 14 days from 09 June 2022 – meaning the case must be filed not later than 23 June 2022.
“Any case filed not later than 23 June 2022 must be determined not later than 180 days from the date of filing. Again, assuming it was filed on 23 June of 2022, the 180-day timeline terminated on 20 December, 2022.”
Otti said nobody would be allowed to steal his mandate from the backdoor.
“We would like to assure Abians in particular and Nigerians in general that the nationally celebrated mandate given to Dr. Alex Otti by the long-suffering Abia masses is safe and secure and can never be stolen by strange usurpers who are pained and frightened by the reality of their imminent exit from power in the next few days.
“In the next few days, Dr. Alex Otti will be sworn in as governor to enable him commence the process of rebuilding and recovering of our state that was destroyed and plundered by the PDP, so Abians are enjoined to ignore the fake report claiming that he has been sacked by a High Court in Kano.”