The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia on Friday dismissed the petition challenging the re-election of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of Abia.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate, Dr Alex Otti had approached the tribunal to nullify the declaration of Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The petitioners alleged that Ikpeazu did not win the majority of the lawful votes cast in the March 9, 2019 election. Otti came third while Uche Ogah, the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) was second in the governorship election.
However, the petitioners urged the tribunal to declare the election invalid by reasons of criminal practices, non substantial compliance with the electoral guidelines, and over voting in 788 polling units in the conduct of the election. Delivering a unanimous judgment, Chairman of the panel, Justice Lekan Ogumonye dismissed the petition for failure of the petitioners to prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
The tribunal held that testimonies told by 65 polling units agents who appeared as witnesses for the petitioners were not sufficient to prove allegations of over voting in 788 polling units. The tribunal held that if even there were some infractions in the said polling units, they were not substantial to invalidate the entire election.
The tribunal therefore held that the petitioners failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt and thereby dismissed it for lacking in merit. Speaking to newsmen, Dr Paul Ananamba, SAN, counsel for the second respondent (Ikpeazu) described the decision as “a landmark judgement borne out of thorough scrutiny and solid analysis.”
Mr Olushola Dare, counsel for the petitioners said the judgment would move the country’s jurisprudence forward, but added that he will consult his client.