Tribunal Dismisses APC’s Petition, Upholds Otti’s Election

The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting at the Federal High Court in Umuahia has dismissed the petition of the All Progressives Congress Candidate, Chief Ikechi Emenike, challenging the election of Governor Alex Otti.
In a five-hour judgement, the three-member panel led by Justice G.T.D Gwadah on Friday struck out the petition for incompetency and lacking in merit.
The panel ruled that the petitioners failed to prove the grounds of their petition and upheld the victory of Otti as the duly elected governor of Abia State.
Also joined in the petition were the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Okechukwu Ahaiwe, Young Progressives Party, Nana Nwafor and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The panel also dismissed Ahaiwe’s petition against Otti for lacking in merit.
But in a unanimous decision read by Justice Omolara Adeyemi, the panel held that the petitioners lacked the locus standi to challenge Otti’s membership of LP.
He ruled that the choice of party’s candidate in an election was an exclusive preserve and domestic affair of the party, describing the petitioners as meddlesome interlopers.
The judge said that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate over the choice of a party’s candidate.
Emenike had also prayed the tribunal to cancel Otti’s votes as well as those of PDP and YPP candidates and declare him the lawful winner of the poll.
The panel held that Emenike failed to provide substantial evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he won the election, hence struck out his petition.
Also, the tribunal dismissed Emenike’s allegation that Nwafor did not resign his membership of PDP before assuming the flag bearer of YPP.
The judge contended that membership of a party was a pre-election matter and entirely the domestic affairs of the party.
The tribunal also struck out Emenike’s petition that PDP’s Ahaiwe failed to resign his appointment as the Chief of Staff to former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, 30 days before the election, as provided by the Electoral Act, 2022.
Addressing newsmen, Counsel to the petitioners, Fabian Nwankwo praised the panel for working tirelessly to conclude the assignment in record time.
Nwankwo said that the tribunal lost a lot of time initially and that the 180 days would have elapsed on Sunday.
He promised to approach the Supreme Court to address the lapses in the judgement.
Meanwhile, supporters and members of LP took to the streets of Umuahia to jubilation over the judgement.

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