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Anambra guber: Ngige, Nwoye, Obidigbo’s cases lack merit —Tribunal •How Obiano won

By Pamela Eboh, Awka on

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The Anambra State governorship election petition tribunal sitting at the premises of the state judiciary in Awka declared yesterday that the cases Obiano vs Obidigbo, Ngige vs INEC, PDP vs INEC and Nwoye vs INEC all lacked merit and proof.

The tribunal in its judgement delivered by the chairman, Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello, consequently dismissed all the suits and upheld that the election conducted in November 16, 17 and 30 last year complied substantially with the provisions of the electoral act and the 1999 constitution, hence Chief Willy Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) remains the validly elected governor of the state.

According to  Justice Bello in the six- hour judgment delivered in four parts, the allegations of multiple registrations by Obiano; his not being validly nominated by his party; lying on oath and that the election was conducted with flawed voters register and blurred pictures were unfounded, adding that the petitioners had failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

Giving first judgement on Dr. Chike Obidigbo’s petition, the tribunal chairman said he had no business in the tribunal as no party nominated him, neither was his name forwarded to INEC as one of the 23 candidates cleared to contest the election.

He said: “It was absurd that a member of a political party challenged the election won by his party, his petition was grossly incompetent”.

Bello further described the intra -party crisis in APGA as an issue outside the purveyors of the tribunal as the law says that it is political parties that sponsor candidates for election and not otherwise.

Giving the second judgement on the petition filed by Senator Chris Ngige, the tribunal observed that the petitioner failed to prove the allegation that Obiano had more than one voter’s card, arguing that he (Obiano) during cross examination had proved that he had his voter’s registration card transferred from Lagos to Anambra where he was given a new voter card by the state INEC.

Justice Bello noted that the petitioner’s failure to tender INEC forms CF001 and CF002- containing the particulars of candidates cast doubts on his claim to the candidature of APGA, adding that he lacked locus standi to institute the petition.

Referring to the position taken by Maxi Okwu who claimed to be representing APGA as 2nd petitioner in Obidigbo’s petition, Bello noted that “it is illogical, inconceivable and incongruous for a party that won an election to turn around and start challenging that election.”

Justice Bello maintained that the petitioner had failed to convince the tribunal that he was unlawfully excluded from participating in the election, pointing out that in pleading unlawful exclusion, one must establish that he was validly nominated and his name submitted to INEC, which the petitioner failed woefully to do.

On the allegations of multiple voter’s registration made by Obidigbo against Obiano, the tribunal chairman opined that it was not enough to allege double registration against somebody just because his name appeared more than once in the voter’s register, adding that the fact that the petitioner did not tender any document or voter’s register to support his pleading was even more fatal to his petition.

According to Bello, neither of the two infringes- multiple registration and false declaration to INEC alleged against Obiano by the petitioner were based on the provisions of Section 138 of the Electoral Act which made provisions on qualification and non qualification.

The Tribunal Chairman said: “Going by evidence before the tribunal, none of them has been established. They are accordingly discountenanced and we hold that the petition lacks in merit.

“We hold that the respondent participated in the election and clearly won. The petitioner failed to establish any condition for disqualification. Allegation of disqualification is hereby resolved in favour of the first respondent (Obiano)”.

Delivering judgment on Ngige’s petition, Bello said the tribunal believes that the 3rd respondent (Obiano) did not get involved in multiple registration and that the petitioner could not get any INEC official to prove his point or getting a witness to prove that he saw him register more than once.

He noted that the constitution donates the powers to try such electoral offences to the regular courts, noting that having found out that the 3rd respondent was not involved which otherwise would have made them to recommend his prosecution, the case holds no water.

The judge observed that the petitioner also alleged false declaration and yet did not call any INEC official to testify or tender any document where he lied on oath, pointing out that any allegation of false declaration which shows dishonesty must be proved beyond reasonable doubt

“Given the nature of declarations sought by the petitioners which are declaratory in nature, they have not proved that they were entitled to such reliefs”, Bello said.

On the issue of voters disenfranchisement alleged by Ngige, the tribunal chairman stressed that out of the 4,608 polling units in Anambra State, the petitioner called only 25 witnesses who claimed they did not find their names in the register, arguing that even if all of them were disenfranchised, it was not enough to establish the issue of disenfranchisement.

Speaking on the consolidated petition by Nwoye and PDP, the tribunal chairman said the petitioners did not provide any evidence of conviction of the 25th respondent (Obiano) to attract disqualification as provided in Section 177 and 187 of the constitution.

Bello also said that the issue of exclusion of 173,000 voters in Idemili raised by the petitioners was not pleaded in their petition.

On the creation of 1,009 additional polling units for the election, he said: “It was the view of the tribunal that INEC has the powers to create additional polling units”.

Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to Obidigbo, Mr. Justin Onwujekwu, said he would study the judgment and then decide the next line of action.

Speaking to Journalists after the judgement, the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh said his party has been vindicated, adding that those who attempted to rig the election were the ones who first shouted that APGA rigged the election.

“The judgment has made it clear that APGA is a political party, the victory at the tribunal today would consolidate the party’s position, especially in Anambra State, ahead of the 2015 elections”, Umeh said.

•Photo shows Governor Obiano addressing a crowd of supporters after being declared the rightful winner of the Anambra gubernatorial elections by the Election Petition Tribunal in Awka, Wednesday. With him are Chief Victor Umeh, National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Prof. Joe Asike, Chief-of-Staff to governor Obiano.

Source News Express

Posted 05/06/2014 12:02:40 PM

 

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