Tony Osauzo, Benin
Five political parties filed petitions at the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal seeking to nullify the election of Governor Godwin Obaseki at the close of submission of petitions on October 10.
Three political parties which earlier filed their petitions were Action Democratic Party (ADP), Action Peoples Party (APP) and Action Alliance (AA) with APP and AA contesting the outcome of the election on grounds that they were unlawfully excluded.
But at the weekend, Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), filed their petitions seeking to nullify the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bringing the number of petitions against Obaseki’s election.
In their separate petitions, APM and NNPP are asking the tribunal to nullify the declaration of Obaseki as winner on grounds that the conduct of the September poll violated, substantially, the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian and the Extant Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended 2015).
The are similarities in the two petitions and the first three that were filed. The similarities bother on issues of the eligibility or otherwise of Obaseki to contest on the claim that he submitted false and or forged certificates to INEC, allegation of Obaseki’s participation in two separate primary elections of two different political parties, the PDP and the APC, for the same election and other sundry matters.
Besides, the latest two petitions also sought similar reliefs such as a declaration that Obaseki was not duly elected in the said September 19 election by virtue of his not being qualified to contest having allegedly submitted false and or forged certificate; a declaration that PDP and Obaseki are not qualified to contest the poll in the first instance because of the alleged false and or forged certificate; an order asking INEC to conduct a fresh election among only qualified candidates in the aforesaid election to the exclusion of PDP and Obaseki and an order to withdraw the certificate of return earlier issued to Obaseki by INEC.
The point of departure between the two petitions is NNPP’s new relief to the extent that since Obaseki did not indicate the primary school he attended, he is deemed not to have been educated up to Secondary School Level or its equivalent, and as such not qualified to contest the election.
Meanwhile, the APM, alternatively, is asking the tribunal to nullify the election on the grounds that the return of Obaseki as winner “are voided by acts bothering on rigging and manipulation of election results; unprecedented acts of violence, thuggery and coercion of voters and unlawful interference in the electoral process by the respondents”.