Tribunal affirms Ekweremadu, Ekwunife, Ubah’s victories, sacks Ogun APC Rep

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The State and National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal in Enugu has affirmed the election of Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the February 23 general elections.
In a unanimous judgement delivered on Monday, the tribunal dismissed the petition brought by Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as lacking in merit.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Haruna Kereng, while reading the judgment, said that the petitioners completely failed to prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
Kereng said that allegations of substantial non-compliance to the Electoral Act, thuggery, falsification of figures needed to be proven polling unit by polling unit.
He said that the few polling unit witnesses brought by the petitioners failed to demonstrate to the tribunal how the election figures were falsified.
He said that out of the 824 polling units, 81 wards and five local government areas in the state, the petitioners were only able to present 16 witnesses with most of them presenting testimonies that were not convincing.
“INEC had declared Ekweremadu winner with 86,088 vote against 15,187 scored by Ibekaku-Nwagwu. It is the responsibility of the petitioners to bring their polling unit agents to demonstrate to us how over 70,000 vote will be deducted from the score of the first respondent to make them winners.
“They only presented witnesses in few polling units and wards,” he said.
Kereng said that the petitioners ought to have pleaded two sets of results, including the wrong and correct results that would have returned them as winners.
He said that certain paragraphs of their petition contained criminal allegations and that the persons whom the allegations were made against remained hidden.
“Having failed woefully to prove their allegations that the first respondent was not elected by majority of lawful vote cast, we, therefore, affirm the election of the first respondent as winner of the election,” he declared.
Kereng awarded a cost of N750,000 against the petitioners.
Reacting, counsel to the first respondent, Mrs. Justina Offiah (SAN), described the judgement as thorough, adding that all counsels in the matter had put in their best.
Offiah requested for a conservative cost against the petitioners to serve as a deterrent to election losers who would want to approach the tribunal with flimsy petitions.
However, counsel to the petitioners, Mr Patrick Luke, said that it was the constitutional right of those who are declared losers in an electoral process to seek redress in a court of law.
“It is my humble view that all the parties should bear their costs because all the parties incurred costs,” Luke added.
Also, the Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka,  Anambra on Monday upheld the victories of Sen. Uche Ekwunife and Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah at Anambra South and Anambra Central Senatorial Districts elections held on Feb. 23.
Sen. Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), had approached the tribunal challenging the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that Sen Uche Ekwunife of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election.
Also, Sen Andy Uba of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Chief Chris Uba of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had approached the tribunal challenging the declaration by the INEC that Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) won the said election.
The Petitioners prayed the tribunal to set aside the declaration of the electoral body on the grounds of irregularities and over writing of the election results.
Delivering its judgement, on the candidacy of Ekwunife , the tribunal ruled that the case was a pre-election matter and did not fall within the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
It ruled that the Petitioner had no locus standi to question the candidacy of Ekwunife at the tribunal, adding that Umeh should have approached the Federal High Court on the matter.
The tribunal also noted that based on the Electoral Act Sec. 33, initial candidate of the PDP,  Mr Charles Odinukwe officially withdrew from the being the candidate of the party and that Ekwunife became candidate of PDP within the stipulated time frame for the subscription of candidates.
It further affirmed that there was no evidence of over voting in the said election and that the Petitioner failed to prove the allegations of over voting.
On the Petition filed against Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah by Chris Uba, the tribunal said that the Petitioner could not prove the allegations leveled  against the respondent.
The tribunal, however, upheld that the Sen. Ekwunife and Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah were duly elected as winners of the Anambra Central and Anambra South Senatorial Districts elections in the state.
Reacting to the judgement,  Mr Dennis Ezika representing the lead Counsel to Chris Uba,  Mr George Igbokwe, SAN, told journalists that they would be heading to the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgement.
“We do not agree with the reasoning of the tribunal with respect to the evidence brought before it. We believe the petitioner tendered tenable evidence and there are no contradictions.
“I can assure you that we will contest the judgement of the tribunal at the Court of Appeal to protest the reasoning of the tribunal, ” he said.
Also speaking with newsmen,  Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah thanked the tribunal for upholding his victory.
“I thanks God Almighty and I also thank the judiciary for a resounding and unbiased judgement.
“This judgement will spur me to be more steadfast in delivering my campaign promises for the benefit of my constituents,  “Ubah said.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta has nullified the election of Hon. Kolapo Osunsanya representing Ijebu Central Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
The tribunal’s Chairman, Justice Wakkil Gana, declared the election inconclusive on Monday.
INEC had declared Osunsanya of the All  Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the February 23  poll in the constituency.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the poll, Taiwo Shote, had challenged the declaration before the tribunal.
Gana, in his judgement, noted that the elections were cancelled in Ward 5, Unit 5 of Ijebu Ode council area ; Ward 10 , Unit 3 in Odogbolu council area and the entire Ward 8 of Ijebu /North – East council area of the federal constituency.
He maintained that since the margin of lead between the petitioner, Shote, and the 1st respondent , Osunsanya, was less than 4,000 while the total number of cancelled votes in the affected areas was 8,800, INEC should not have declared Osunsanya the winner of the poll.
Gana held that INEC should have declared the election inconclusive and organised a rerun election in the affected areas.
He declared that Osunsanya was not duly elected and ordered that a rerun should be conducted within 90 days in the affected wards and units.
In his reaction, Shote described the judgement as victory for the rule of law.
“I am very delighted at the judgment just delivered. I am happy that justice has been served.
” Although the wheel of justice grinds slowly, it grinds steadily and surely. It is a victory for the rule of law and the good people of the feferal constituency.
” I thank God and the good people of Ijebu Federal Constituency comprising of Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu/ North- East and Odogbolu local government areas for their unflinching support thus far, and I promise not to disappoint them,” he said.
Osunsanya, however, declined to comment on the judgement.

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