Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 3 February 2016 | 3,582 times
The Supreme Court of Nigeria minutes ago declared Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu winner of the Abia 2015 governorship contest. The seven-man panel led by the Chief Justice of the Federation said it will give reason for its judgement on February 15, 2016.
The governorship election in Abia State held on April 11, 2015 was declared inconclusive by the Returning Officer, Prof. Benjamin Ozurumba, and a supplementary election scheduled in some polling units across nine local government areas in the state, after which Prof. Ozurumba declared Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the contest.
His main rival, Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and his party flatly rejected the outcome on the grounds that results from the three local governments of Isiala Ngwa North, Obingwa and Osisioma ought not to have been accepted as valid.
Results from the three councils became a subject of dispute when, based on reports of alleged violence and irregularities from some observers, the Returning Officer announced their cancellation.
But he was to reverse himself after the then Governor Theodore Orji, had visited the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to impress it on the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof Selina Oko, that the Returning Officer had no such powers to cancel election results.
Otti took his rejection of the polls to the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia. In its ruling on November 3, 2015, the tribunal held that Otti failed to prove allegations of over-voting, violence and other malpractices in the three local governments and dismissed his petition accordingly while affirming Ikpeazu’s victory.
Unimpressed by the verdict, Otti turned to the Appeal Court, Owerri Division. The five-man panel which looked into his appeal, virtually agreed with all his prayers and expunged votes recorded from the three local governments and declared him winner of the Abia guber poll, saying that he scored the majority of lawful votes cast in the election. The Appeal Court verdict was delivered on December 31, 2015. It was a New Year gift that Ikpeazu could not stomach and he promptly rushed to the Supreme Court to reclaim his mandate.
•Photo shows Governor Ikpeazu.
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