The National Assembly/State Houses of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu has dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, against the election of Hon. Toby Okechukwu representing Awgu/Oji-River/Aninri in the House of Representatives.
This came barely 24 hours after the party also lost in its bid to sack the Senator representing Enugu North Senatorial Zone, Senator Chukwuka Utazi.
Similarly, in a judgement that lasted for about 2 and a half hours, the Tribunal held on Wednesday that the petitioners failed to prove any of the issues raised against the Reps member, Okechukwu.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared Okechukwu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the winner of the election, but unsatisfied, Mr. Vin Martins Ilo of the APC headed for the tribunal.
In the grounds contained in his petition, the APC candidate had avered that Okechukwu was not elected by valid majority votes, adding that there was also corrupt practices, irregularities, as well as non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the INEC guidelines for the election.
He asked the Tribunal to declare the election invaild and in the alternative order for a fresh polls.
However, the three Respondents denied that the election was marred by irregularities or non-compliance with requisite laws.
Okechukwu specifically told the Tribunal that he was duly elected with valid votes cast during the election, a position corroborated by the PDP, which affirmed that “the election was peaceful and there was no record of violence.”
In its judgement, the three-man panel led by Hon. Justice H.H. Kerang resolved all the issues in favour of the respondents.
On the APC candidate’s claim that the card reader showed over-voting, the Tribunal held that “the use of both the card reader and the voters’ card is justified in law,” adding that none use of the card reader cannot help the petitioners to unseat the 1st respondent who won election in the instant case.
The Court further held that to prove over-voting, you must among other things tender voters’ register and result sheets, but the petitioners, it said, did none of the above.
The issue of dates on result sheets was also resolved in favour of the respondents, with the Tribunal declaring that whether the result sheets were dated 23rd or 24th February is immaterial and that it does not amount to non-compliance.
“Petitioners have failed to prove their case; the 1st respondent was duly elected by a majority of votes cast. The petition has no merit whatsoever; case is hereby dismissed; the election of the 1st Respondent is upheld,” the Court held.
It went ahead to award the cost of N200,000 to each of the three respondents, against the petitioners.