Aguocha, again wins as tribunal affirms his victory
By Steve Oko
It was a celebration galore Thursday for the member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South federal constituency, Hon. Obi Aguocha, as the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, upheld his victory at the February 25 poll.
This is coming barely 24 hours after the Labour Party lost its seat for the Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency to Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Wawa News Global reports that Abia former Speaker and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji, had approached the tribunal to seek the nullification of Aguocha’s victory, alleging that he was not validly nominated by the LP.
The former Speaker had also urged the tribunal to remove Aguocha for allegedly not resigning his membership of the PDP before picking the LP ticket.
Orji further urged the tribunal to remove the LP candidate on the grounds that the LP allegedly failed to submit the party’s membership register to the Independent INEC, 30 days before the poll as required by the Electoral Act.
The former Speaker through his Lead Counsel, Obinna Nkume, claimed that he and not the LP candidate, won the highest number of lawful votes cast.
According to him, “the results my client got through his party agents were the same with the results presented by the INEC from the agency’s IREV”.
He claimed that the 1s Respondent swapped results in 53 disputed polling units where he allegedly inflated his figures and deflated the figures entered for the PDP candidate.
Citing the suit between Gov. Hope Uzodinma, and ex-Gov. Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, decided by the Supreme Court in 2020, Orji’s Lead Counsel asserted that the court had the powers to recompute the votes in the disputed polling units and declare the highest scorer based on evidence before it.
Claiming that Rt. Hon. Orji secured the highest number of lawful votes cast, the 1st Petitioner’s Lead Counsel prayed the panel to annul Aguocha’s victory and declare the PDP candidate the rightful winner of the contest.
But Hon. Aguocha, had through his own Lead Counsel, Anaga Kalu Anaga, urged the panel to throw away the petition which he simply dismissed as “incompetent”.
According to him, the Petitioner could not produce evidence to prove that his claims were valid as the testimony of his witnesses was not “front-loaded” before the witnesses gave their oral testimony.
Aguocha’s lawyer insisted that a higher Court had already ruled that the evidence of a subpoenad witness ought to have been “front-loaded”.
He further argued that the claims of manipulation of election results could not be substantiated by the testimony of only one party agent that witnessed the election in a particular unit.
” You cannot use only one agent’s testimony at a particular unit to generalise in all the polling units. The Petitioner ought to have brought witnesses in the other affected polling units”, he contended.
Delivering judgment in the matter, Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Abubakar Kutigi, held that there was no evidence to show that the 1st Respondent was not validly nominated and sponsored by his party.
The tribunal also held that the Petitioners could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the 1st Respondent did not win majority of the total lawful votes cast in the election.
It subsequently affirmed Aguocha’s victory, declaring that the reliefs sought by the Petitioners could not fly.
In an interview with our Correspondent, Counsel to the 1st Petitioner, said they would study the judgment to determine the next line of action.
Speaking also in an interview,a member of Aguocha’s legal team, Friday Nwokocha hailed the judgment, describing it as “erudite”.
He said the Petitioners could not aduce any convincing evidence to prove their case.
The Counsel, therefore, urged the Petitioner to support Aguocha since they are brothers.
Adding his voice, the Director General of Aguocha’s Campaign Organization, Leonard Ogbonna, said it was a victory for the masses who voted for his principal.
He also urged the former Speaker to throw his support behind the lawmaker so he could concentrate on his job in the interest of the entire constituency.
Steve Oko, Publisher/C.E.O, WaWa News Global. For more information on advert placement and news coverage, contact us on: 08038725600, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.