Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 25 February 2014 | 3,888 times
The Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka to decide complaints arising from the gubernatorial elections of November 16 and 30, 2013 delivered its first rulings today. In one of them, the tribunal which began sitting on February 4 threw out the application filed by Dr. Chike Obidigbo, former gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), for lack of merit.
Dr. Obidigbo, who belongs to the Chief Maxi Ukwu faction of APGA, had sought relief from the tribunal to be joined as a respondent in the petitions brought against the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC), APGA and the Governor-elect, Chief Willie Obiano, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the conduct of the governorship elections.
However, ruling on the application, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Mohammed Ishaq Bello, dismissed it for lack of merit. He advised the Obidigbo legal team to seek other avenues to address their grievances as the tribunal was set up to listen to petitions arising from the actual conduct of elections and not intra-party wrangling that predated the election.
The second ruling by the tribunal was on the application filed by the counsel to INEC, Alhaji Ahmed Raji, SAN, for some paragraphs in Nwoye’s petition to be struck out on the grounds that they are irrelevant to the main petition.
The paragraphs include the ones on alleged multiple registration by Governor-elect Obiano, non-qualification due to alleged multiple registration, the allegation against security operatives and APGA officials accused of facilitating the victory of Obiano and the allegation of criminality against some unnamed persons.
In the ruling delivered by Justice Akintola Akiniji, the tribunal observed that while it was not proper to strike out all the paragraphs as demanded by the INEC counsel, there were some parts that were pre-election matters and therefore had no reason to remain in the petition.
He noted that even if the allegation of multiple registrations was proved, it was not one of the bases for disqualification of a candidate to stand for an election.
According to Akintola, “Double or multiple registration is a criminal offence and there was no proof that Obiano has been charged to any court of law and anybody who has a case against him should file a case either at the state or federal high court who in turn will issue an order against him.”
He noted that the allegation of supplying false information to INEC is not enough to disqualify a candidate adding that there must be a court order expressly disqualifying the candidate.
Akiniji further said that the Electoral Act as amended stipulates that it is the court that can entertain such a matter and that should be done before the election, not after.
He added that the petitioner’s failure to name the agents accused of working for INEC also did a fatal blow to the petition, just as the petitioner did not state how INEC conducted the election in all the polling units in Anambra State.
The tribunal which adjourned to tomorrow Friday, February 28, when it is expected to rule on the respondents’ application to strike out sections of the petitions filed by APC.
•Photo shows Anambra Governor-elect, who recorded double victory in today’s rulings. The tribunal continues sitting tomorrow.
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