From Desmond Mgboh, Kano, Tony Osauzo, Benin, Okey Sampson, Umuahia and Paul Osuyi, Asaba
National/House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunals continued delivery of judgment on petitions across the country.
While some winners had their elections confirmed, others were sacked. Similarly, some petitioners were lucky while others were unlucky.
In Edo State, a tribunal sitting in Benin City affirmed Peter Akpatason of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the Akoko-Edo federal constituency.
Labour Party (LP) candidate, Omobayo Marvellous Godwin, had challenged the election of Akpatason in a petition marked EPT/ED/HR/10/2023.
But in a judgment delivered by Justice Justice Yusuf Mohammed-led three-man panel, the Tribunal dismissed the petition as incompetent and ‘lacking in merit.’
Besides, the Tribunal held that the onus of proof rested with the Petitioners and they must not rely on the admissions of the respondents, stressing that the Petitioners failed to discharge the burden of proof as required by the law, hence the petition was dismissed.
Similarly, the tribunal also dismissed the petition of Osaro Osazee of the APC against the election of Esosa Iyawe, winner of Oredo Federal Constituency.
In a unanimous judgement by Justice K. A. Leweanya, the Tribunal held that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the petition which bordered mainly on the qualification of the second respondent, Iyawe.
It said the issues raised in the petition were pre-election matters that ought to have been challenged at the Federal High Court within 14 days of the occurrence of the event.
“This petition is hereby dismissed and the second respondent is hereby declared winner of the Oredo Federal Constituency election as conducted on February 25, 2023”, the Tribunal said.
In a statement in Benin, Iyawe called on opposition party members to join hands with him to work for the upliftment of the people of the Constituency.
“Democracy thrives when there is a robust exchange of ideas, and your unwavering commitment to your principles is a testament to the strength of our democratic institutions.
“Permit me to say that in our increasingly polarized political landscape, it is essential that we recognize and celebrate each other. Today, I have the privilege to do just that.
“Now the Tribunal has decided, let us put politics of bitterness aside and let us come together and work for the betterment of Oredo Federal Constituency.
“In every contest there must be a victor. We may continue to hold differing views, let us never forget that our shared commitment to the welfare of our citizens unites us in our larger purpose.
“With all humility I am open to everyone who is ready to sail the ship of good governance. There is a lot to be done for our people. I am here to serve you all by working with a deep sense of responsibility, I will always put the needs of the people first.”
Gana’s son loses in Niger
Joshua, son of Prof. Jerry Gana and candidate of PDP for Edati/Lavun/Mokwa Federal Constituency of Niger State was also sacked.
Gana, who polled 47,942 votes as against 40,003 by the candidate of APC, Mr. Abdullahi Usman Gbatamagi, was declared winner INEC.
Dissatisfied with the declaration, the APC and its candidate, Gbatamagi, challenged the return of Gana, via a petition number EPT/NG/HR/06/2023 on the ground that the election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 in that the margin of win was less than the permanent voter cards (PVCs) collected in the polling units where elections did not hold or were cancelled.
Delivering the judgment, the three-member tribunal headed by Justice Sylvester Godspower agreed with Usman’s arguments.
The tribunal proceeded to invalidate votes in the 26 polling units, thereby reducing the votes of Gana to 46,494 votes while that of Gbatamagi stood at 39,159 votes, leaving the PVCs collected in the affected polling units at 14,411.
The tribunal consequently set aside the Certificate of Return issued to Joshua Gana by INEC and ordered the commission to conduct a supplementary election in the 26 polling units within 90 days of the judgment with a view to determining a winner.
Abia LP loses 3 Rep seats
The election of three LP members, Okwara Osonwa, Arochukwu/Ohafia, Munachim Alozie, Obingwa/Osisioma/Ugwunagbo and Emeka Nnamani, Aba North/Aba South federal constituencies lost their seats to Dan Okeke (APC), Ibe Nwoke (YPP) and Alex Ikwuechegh of APGA, respectively.
The Tribunals equally upheld the election of a PDP Reps member, Chris Nkwonta, Ukwa East/Ukwa West federal constituency and Ginger Onwusibe, LP, Isiala Ngwa North/Isiala Ngwa South federal constituency.
Dismissing a petition filed by the candidate of PDP, Chief Anthony Agbazuere against Onwusibe, one of the Tribunals in a unanimous judgement, ruled it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the allegations of non compliance with the electoral act against the respondent.
Delivering the judgement, chairman of the panel, Justice Hajaratu Hajjo Lawal, ruled that the tribunal’s decision was based on the fact that issues which border on pre-election matters had been decided by the Supreme Court.
He also ruled that allegations of irregularities in three wards in the Constituency were not proven beyond every reasonable doubt to have affected the outcome of the election result.
The tribunal, therefore, struck out the petition for lacking in merit and declared the respondent as duly elected.
The tribunal also dismissed another petition filed by the candidate of the APC, Chijoke Ikpo against Onwusibe.
Agbazuere had prayed the tribunal to disqualify the respondent for not resigning officially from the PDP before joining the LP.
He also told the Court that INEC was not given any notice 30 days before the party congress, where the respondent emerged as the LP candidate for the election.
APC, PDP Reps sacked in Delta
The Tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta State, nullified the election of a two term member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressive Congress, Mr. Francis Waive.
The tribunal declared the candidate of the PDP, Mr. Solomon Ahwinahwi as winner to represent Ughelli North/Ughelli South/Udu federal constituency.
In another judgement, the tribunal ordered a re-run for Enwhe ward 09 of Isoko federal constituency, and directed that the Certificate of Return issued to Mr. Jonathan Ukohdiko of the PDP as winner of the Isoko federal constituency election should be set aside.
Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for Isoko federal constituency, Dickson Ebegbare had approached the tribunal, insisting that Ukohdiko was not duly elected by lawful votes and that no election was held in the contentious ward 09.
In Waive’s case, the tribunal nullified the election for improper documentation on his part.
Reacting in a statement, Waive rejected the judgement and vowed to appeal it at the appellate court, insisting that the grounds for his disqualification were not known to Nigerian law.
He insisted that the non-publication of his academic qualification which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its portal is not a ground for disqualification of a candidate, and as such, it’s alien to Nigerian law.
The lawmaker said he fulfilled all the requirements of INEC and the law as expected of him and provided documented evidence to the tribunal, adding that INEC’s act of omission which he wrote to them should not be a ground for his disqualification.
He called his supporters and party faithful to remain calm and law-abiding as he goes on appeal to test the judgment.
Another NNPP Reps sacked in Kano
The National/State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, voided the election of another Kano NNPP House of rRps member, Idris Dankawu.
Dankawu, according to the tribunal, had forged the West African School Certificate, (WAEC) he submitted to contest the election for Kumbotso Federal Constituency.
The petitioner, Munir Babba Danagudi had alleged that the respondent forged the Secondary School Certificate he tendered to secure admission into Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria, Kaduna State.
Justice I.P Chima, who delivered the judgement agreed with the petitioner and voided the respondent’s victory while directing the Independent National Electoral Commission to set aside the Certificate of return issued to him and declare Munir Babba Danagudi the winner of the Kumbotso Federal Constituency election.
…Affirms election of Wombo for Kastina-Ala, Ukum/Logo
The Tribunal in Makurdi, upheld the election of Rep. Solomon Wombo of APC for the Kastina-Ala/Ukum/Logo Federal Constituency election of Benue.
Chairman of the panel, Justice Ory’zik Ikeorha, said the petitioners, Richard Gbande and PDP failed to prove their case.
Justice Ikeorha said the 17 out of the 19 witnesses called by the petitioner filed their written addresses out of time and dismissed same.
She said while some of the paragraphs of the petition were complaints on polling units, many others were generic and without basis.
“The reliefs sought are hereby refused, the petition stands dismissed in entirety, no order of cost,” she said.
INEC had declared Wombo winner with 59,939 votes while Gbande came second with 39,414 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome Gbande and PDP dragged Wombo, APC and INEC before the tribunal challenging the declaration by INEC.
The winner of the election or order for fresh poll.
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