Tribunal upholds Victor Umeh’s election as Senator for Anambra Central

Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 27 July 2018 | 1,873 times

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• Sen. Victor Umeh

The Anambra State Election Tribunal has struck out a petition brought by the candidate of Mega Peoples Progressive Party (MPPP), Mr. Nkem Ekweozo, against the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Sir Victor Umeh.

The tribunal headed by Justice H. A Olusiyi affirmed that Umeh was the authentic winner of the January 13 Senatorial re-run election held in the zone.

The MPPP candidate had challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to void the said election that declared Umeh as the winner of the election.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were joined in the petition as second and third respondents respectively in the petition EPT/AN/SEN/01/2018 Ekweozoh, who is a lawyer by profession had in his five grounds for voidance of the election claimed that Umeh was not duly elected by majority of valid votes cast at the election and that the victory was invalid as it was fraught with corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

He claimed that Umeh apart from not being qualified to contest based on the fact that his nomination came at a time he was still the National Chairman of his party (APGA), that he also spent far above the maximum election expenses of N40 million as stipulated by law.

The tribunal, however, dismissed the five reliefs sought by the petitioner for lacking merit and for the petitioner's inability to prove his case.

Umeh won in all the seven local governments that made up the Senatorial zone in the re-run election which came after protracted legal battles.

Delivering a unanimous judgment, that lasted more than five hours, Justice Olusiyi who led the other two Judges, Justice A. O. Ayoola, and Justice A. U. Birnin Kudu, described the petitioner as a “meddlesome interloper” stating that he lacked the locus standi to contest the outcome of the election.

The Judge while noting that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to look into the issue of Umeh’s nomination, sponsorship and candidature, described Ekweozoh as` a “rabble rouser” for making heavy weather of the issues of Umeh’s sponsorship and nomination even when he was not a member of APGA or an aggrieved aspirant.

His words: “You cannot meddle in the domestic affairs of a party to which you are a complete stranger.

“All the particulars of fact in support of the petitioner’s grounds that Umeh at the time of the election was not qualified to contest the election were not proved by any credible evidence known to our laws and therefore the petition had failed woefully.”

In his reaction, the MPPP candidate said he would appeal the judgment on the grounds that the same lacuna that robbed off Mrs. Uche Ekwunife of Peoples Democratic Party victory in her senatorial position also played out in his matter.

He expressed displeasure at being tagged a “meddlesome interloper” by the tribunal for challenging Umeh’s nomination by APGA.

“This was the same situation that robbed Mrs. Ekwunife her victory after 2015 general election.

“My 90-year-old lawyer father who was called to the Bar in 1958 would equally petition several flaws noticed during the trial and judgment of his matter,” he added.

On his part, the Anaocha Local Government Transition Committee Chairman, Mr. Ikeobi Ejiofor, who led other supporters to the tribunal, said the victory was not only for Anambra people but for the entire South-East. He noted that with the victory, Umeh would now settle down to continue to provide voice to Anambra people and Ndigbo at large.

Source: News Express

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