From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Imo State National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal has sacked a member of the House of Representatives for Ideato North/South federal constituency, Imo Ikenga Ugochinyere, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In a unanimous judgement, the three-member tribunal, led by Anthony Olotu Akpovi, held that Ugochinyere was not validly nominated to contest the February 25 election.
It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to, within 90 days, conduct a supplementary election in the constituency, to the exclusion of Ugochinyere and his political party, PDP.
The supplementary election is to be conducted in 56 polling units where the tribunal held election did not take place on February 25.
The judgement was sequel to a petition filed by candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abazu Chika Benson.
In his petition, marked EPT/IM/HR/10/2023, the petitioner listed INEC, Ugochinyere, PDP, candidate of the Labour Party, Obi Paschal Chigozie, and the Labour Party, as 1st to 5th respondents.
The electoral body had declared the PDP candidate, winner with 13,026 votes against the candidate of the LP, Chigozie, who polled 5,696 votes.
The petitioner, who contested under the platform of the APC, came third with 2,368 votes.
In his petition, which was upheld by the tribunal, the petitioner argued that Ugochinyere was not qualified to participate in the House of Representatives contest.
He contended among other issues that all the votes credited to the PDP candidate, amounted to wasted votes.
He argued that contrary to the express provision of the Electoral Act, the PDP conducted its primary in a venue that was outside the constituency.
In its judgement, the tribunal stressed that documentary and oral evidence that was laid before it established that the primary the PDP conducted on May 25, 2022, which produced Ugochinyere as its candidate, was held at Aladinma Shopping Mall, a location that was outside Ideato North/South federal constituency.
Some of the supporters of the sacked lawmaker cited Supreme Court judgement in SC/CV/501/2023: “A political party that files a suit to challenge the nomination of candidate of another party will be a nosy busybody, a meddlesome interloper, peeping into the affairs of his neighbour without any backing in law. No court of law can entertain such a Suit,” yet the tribunal went ahead and disqualified Ikenga on the challenge by the APC candidate.
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