BREAKING: Ebonyi Election Tribunal Dismisses PDP's Petition, Affirms Nwifuru as Governor - The Top Society

BREAKING: Ebonyi Election Tribunal Dismisses PDP’s Petition, Affirms Nwifuru as Governor

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Nwifuru: The Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, convened in Abuja, has delivered a unanimous verdict on Wednesday. The tribunal, presided over by Justice Lekan Ogunmoye and comprising three members, has dismissed the petition lodged by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The tribunal’s decision rested on the determination that the petition lacked merit. According to the three-member panel, the petitioner failed to substantiate the claim that Mr. Nwifuru, the PDP candidate, maintained his membership within the party when he contested in the March 18 governorship election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Francis Nwifuru as the winner of the election, securing 199,131 votes, while Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came in second with 80,191 votes. This election took place on March 18, 2023. However, Odii and the PDP contested the results and sought to challenge them. They approached the Tribunal, alleging non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and the failure to secure the majority of lawful votes in the gubernatorial poll.

Odii and the PDP’s legal team argued that Nwifuru was not qualified to contest the election on the APC platform because he was still a member of the PDP at the time of the election. Nonetheless, the APC presented evidence showing that Nwifuru had resigned from the PDP while serving as the state House of Assembly speaker and had joined the APC before its primary election.

In its judgment on September 27, the three-man panel of the Tribunal, chaired by Justice O. Lekan, ruled that the issue of nomination and sponsorship by a political party should have been addressed before the Federal High Court prior to the election, as it was a pre-election matter. Therefore, the Tribunal declined jurisdiction to entertain the matter of Nwifuru’s sponsorship by the APC, considering it an internal political party issue.

Nwifuru

The Tribunal stated that “membership of a political party is a non-justiciable issue” and could not overturn a Federal High Court judgment that recognized Nwifuru’s defection to the APC while serving as a lawmaker. The Tribunal also criticized the PDP for not appealing the trial court judgment earlier.

Regarding the PDP’s claims of overvoting, mutilation, and inflation of results, the Tribunal noted that the petitioners called 20 witnesses who failed to prove that the disputed polling unit result sheets were defective or lacked the required stamps according to relevant laws. Furthermore, the petitioners were unable to produce polling unit results as evidence of alleged electoral malpractice.

“The allegations of the petitioners remains unproven,” Lekan upheld this stance, referring to a Supreme Court ruling that specifically requires proof of overvoting through the Voters Register, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System report, and Form EC8As. As a result, the panel rejected the petition and upheld Nwifuru’s status as the legitimately elected governor of the state.

Previously, the Tribunal had also dismissed a petition filed by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate, Bernard Odoh, on similar grounds.

Don’t miss out on: Breaking: Ebonyi Tribunal Dismisses APGA’s Petition Against Gov. Nwifuru

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