Tribunal sacks Ogah declares Onyejeocha winner of Abia fed constituency
By Steve Oko
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Wednesday, sacked the member representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency, Hon Amobi Ogah of the Labour Party.
It subsequently declared the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the winner of the February 25 national assembly poll, and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ogah and issue a fresh one to Onyejeocha.
Onyejeocha, had been in the Green chamber for 16 years until the 2023 poll when INEC declared Ogah winner of the contest.
The former Deputy Whip of the House of Representatives and incumbent Minister of State for Labour, had approached the tribunal to seek the nullification of Ogah’s emergence, alleging that he was not qualified to contest for the election, and was not validly nominated and sponsored by his party.
Onyejeocha also sought a declaration that Ogah and Labour Party did not win the majority of the validly cast votes in the said election.
She further urged the tribunal to declare that she and not Ogah,won the majority of the valid votes in the election.
Delivering judgment on the petition, Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Adeyinka Aderegbegbe, granted the relief of the Petitioners that “how a candidate is sponsored is both a pre and post election matter”.
He held that the 3rd Respondent was not validly nominated and sponsored by the 2nd Respondent as the claims by the 1st Petitioner that INEC did not receive any notice concerning primaries of the 2nd Respondent was not controverted.
The Tribunal further ruled that it had in its possession, all the results of the election in the federal constituency, and was duty-bound to collate the results.
It added that after collating the results in its possession, it found out that the tabulation by the Petitioners was correct.
Subsequently, the Tribunal declared that the total votes polled by Onyejeocha was 11, 936 while Ogah’s actual total votes was 9,728.
The tribunal , therefore, declared the APC candidate as the validly elected winner of the election.
In an interview, Lead Counsel to the 1st Petitioner, Professor Joshua Olatoke, hailed the tribunal for the judgment, and urged the Respondents to accept it in good faith.
He claimed that his client’s votes were reduced by the Respondents at the Ward Collation centres while inflating the figures scored by the LP candidate.
In his reaction, Counsel to the LP candidate, Bertram Faotu, expressed shock and disappointment over the judgement and vowed to appeal it.
” Is it not strange that the court of Appeal held today that Section 77 of the Electoral Act is an internal affairs of a political party and this tribunal is here saying something to the contrary?
” We won’t hesitate to appeal the judgment because the tribunal went strange on established principles of law”.
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