David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State, has said he is not opposed to Peter Obi’s presidential ambition, and “deeply appreciates Obi’s courage in his campaign.”
The Ebonyi governor said contrary to reports, he is not against the ambition of the Labour Party presidential candidate.
Umahi, a member of the All Progressives Congress and Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum had few days ago, said his state will not follow any other political agenda in the 2023 elections aside from voting for his party.
The talk, deemed a jab at Mr Obi, a former governor of Anambra, had generated backlash on social media.
But backtracking in a statement by Uchenna Orji, the information commissioner in Ebonyi, the governor said, “Umahi never said that Obi was going nowhere and that he (Umahi) does not believe in the nation’s president of Igbo extraction.
“The governor is a member of the All Progressives Congress and shall support the party in all their state and national elections as a good party man.
“He believes that political party members should defend their parties during elections and people will freely vote for candidates of their choice,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, a federal high court sitting in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital, on Friday, dismissed a suit filed by Umahi, asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise him as a senatorial candidate.
In its ruling on Friday, the court recognised Ann Agom-Eze, who came second in the May 28 senatorial primary for Ebonyi south, which was conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to NAN, the court, however, ordered INEC to conduct fresh primary within 14 days for the district.
Umahi had, through his counsel, Roy Nweze, filed a suit against INEC at the federal high court, asking the court to compel the commission to recognise him as the senatorial candidate for the district.
Austin Umahi, brother to the governor, was declared winner of the APC senatorial ticket for Ebonyi south.
According to NAN, another primary was held on June 9, during which Austin withdrew, and the Ebonyi governor reportedly contested unopposed and won.
However, although the APC had listed Dave Umahi as its senatorial candidate for Ebonyi north, he was excluded when INEC published the list of candidates for the 2023 elections.
The Ebonyi governor was a presidential candidate on the APC platform at the time his brother won the senatorial primary — he, however, lost the presidential ticket.
At the court sitting on Friday, Fatun Riman, the presiding judge, said Umahi was not an aspirant and could not have participated in the primary.
Riman said according to section 115 of the Electoral Act 2022, the governor neither procured forms nor participated in the primary, and as such, cannot claim any right based on the senatorial primary.
Speaking on the development, Nnaemeka Nwonwu, counsel to Agom-Eze, expressed satisfaction over the judgment.
“Yes, the court has ordered APC to conduct fresh primary to ratify the candidacy of our client, Ann Agom-Eze, who took the second position as governor’s younger brother has withdrawn,” Nwonwu said.
“The court has given 14 days from today, Friday, to conduct a fresh primary for the zone.”
Efforts to get the reaction of Umahi’s counsel were unsuccessful.