The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, situated in Umuahia, on wednesday sacked Hon. Amobi Ogah of the Labour Party, who represented the Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency.
In its decision, the tribunal declared Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, as the rightful winner of the national assembly poll that took place on February 25. As a result, the tribunal ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to revoke the certificate of return previously issued to Ogah and issue a fresh one to Onyejeocha.
This legal battle emerged when the former Deputy Whip of the House of Representatives, who currently serves as the Minister of State for Labour, approached the tribunal to challenge Ogah’s eligibility for the election. Onyejeocha contended that Ogah was not qualified to contest the election and was not legitimately nominated and sponsored by his party, the Labour Party.
She also asserted that Ogah and the Labour Party did not secure the majority of the validly cast votes in the election, claiming that she, in fact, won the majority of the valid votes.
In delivering the judgment on the petition, Chairman of the three-member panel, Justice Adeyinka Aderegbegbe, granted the Petitioners’ request, affirming that the process of how a candidate is sponsored is a matter relevant to both pre-election and post-election considerations. The tribunal found that the 3rd Respondent (Ogah) was not properly nominated and sponsored by the 2nd Respondent (Labour Party), as the 1st Petitioner’s claim that INEC received no notice regarding the 2nd Respondent’s primaries went uncontested.
Furthermore, the tribunal ruled that it possessed all the election results for the federal constituency and was obligated to compile these results. After scrutinizing the results it held, the tribunal determined that the Petitioners’ tabulation was accurate. Consequently, the tribunal declared that Onyejeocha received a total of 11,936 valid votes, while Ogah received 9,728 valid votes. Consequently, the tribunal declared the APC candidate as the legitimate winner of the election.
In response to the judgment, Professor Joshua Olatoke, the Lead Counsel for the 1st Petitioner, commended the tribunal’s decision and called on the Respondents to accept it in good faith. He alleged that his client’s votes had been reduced by the Respondents at the Ward Collation centers while inflating the figures attributed to the LP candidate.
However, Counsel to the LP candidate, Bertram Faotu, expressed shock and disappointment with the judgment and vowed to appeal it. He noted the apparent contradiction between the tribunal’s decision and a recent Court of Appeal ruling regarding Section 77 of the Electoral Act, asserting that they would appeal based on established legal principles.
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