Oduah, Ogbaga floor opponents at election tribunal

Posted by Pamela Eboh (Awka) and Charles lwuoha (Enugu) | 5 September 2019 | 639 times

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The National/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State, on Wednesday affirmed the Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial Zone, Mrs. Stella Oduah, as the authentic winner of the February 2019 senatorial election.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Dr. Chinedu Emeka, had dragged Oduah to the tribunal insisting that he won the election.

He alleged that Oduah was not qualified to contest the election because she did not possess the required academic qualifications.

Emeka claimed in his petition that at the time of election, Oduah was still a bonafide member of APGA. He also stressed that the election did not comply with the Electoral Act.

In her judgement, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Esther Haruna, said the petitioner failed to prove his allegations.

In a related development, the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, on Thursday, dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency in the 2019 general elections, Mr. Uchenna Nshi, against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga.

Mr. Nshi had dragged Ogbaga to the tribunal seeking the declaration of the election that produced him invalid by reasons of alleged corrupt practices, intimidation of voters, violence, non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)  and unlawful alterations of results in favour of Ogbaga.

He further urged the court to set aside the results of polling units, wards and Local Governments as declared by the 1st Respondent (INEC) which gave Ogbaga victory based on the above grounds.

But in about two hours unanimous judgement delivered by the three-man panel chaired by Justice Sika Henry Aprioku, the tribunal held that the petition lacked merit as the petitioner failed to bring preponderance of evidence to prove his case.

On the allegation of criminal alterations of results in favour of Ogbaga, the tribunal held that the petitioner was unable to discharge the burden of proof as he failed to bring credible evidence or witnesses to back his claims.

The tribunal also held that the allegations of corrupt practices, non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and Guidelines for the election were not substantiated by the petitioner, even as he did not prove to the court how they affected the outcome of the election.

It said the testimonies of the petitioner’s witnesses on the alleged corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act and Guidelines amounted to hearsay as they confirmed during cross examination that they were not present at the polling units where the infractions took place and accordingly, are unreliable and cannot be attached any probative value.

The tribunal said the petitioner dealt a heavy blow on his petition for failing to call any witness who was present at any of the polling units where he alleged malpractices and violence during the election, adding that the testimonies of the witnesses of the Petitioner who were not present in any of the polling units in contention amounted to falsehood.

The tribunal therefore, ruled that the election of Ogbaga, was valid by reason of the failure of the petitioner to discharge the burden proof of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and Guidelines, malpractices, and criminal alterations of the election results.

It added that it couldn’t have embarked on voyage of discovery in order to help the petitioner prove his allegations. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed for lacking in merit.

The tribunal also awarded costs against Nshi.

Reacting to the judgement, Hon. Ogbaga described the judgement as the reaffirmation of the verdict of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that conducted the election.

He urged the petitioner not to see the dismissal of his petition by tribunal as a loss; rather, he should work with him as a younger brother and in-law, for the good of the constituency, as he has the capacity to protect their interests.

Also reacting, counsel to the petitioner, Barrister Mbam Pius, who held brief for the lead counsel, Michael Odoh, said, by the time they get a copy of the judgement, they would decide whether to taste its veracity in the appellate court or not.


Source: News Express

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