The election petition tribunal’s ruling that dismissed their petitions for lack of merit was disagreed with by the Labour Party and its candidate in the Enugu State governorship election on March 18.
The petition filed by the LP and its candidate, Chijioke Edoga, to challenge the victory of Governor Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state’s March 18 governorship election was dismissed by the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on Thursday.
The petition filed by the LP against Mbah was found to be incompetent and without merit by the three-person tribunal, which unanimously dismissed all of the petition’s grounds in a decision read by its chairman, Justice Kudirat Akano.
Mbah was accused of forging his National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate, which was one of the main arguments in the LP’s petition. However, the tribunal decided the case in Mbah’s favor.
“The NYSC certificate is not a qualification for anyone who wants to run for the office of the governor of the state as enshrined under Section 177 of the 1999 constitution. The academic qualifications required of any governorship candidate, as captured under Section 177 (d), is a school certificate, which has been interpreted under Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The NYSC discharge certificate is not a qualification as captured under the aforementioned section of the constitution and, therefore, cannot disqualify any person who has met the constitutional requirements and has been duly elected into the office of the governor of a state,” the tribunal held.
The tribunal also rejected the LP’s argument that Mbah did not receive the majority of legitimate ballots cast.
However, the tribunal found that the petitioners had established their claim that there had been excessive voting at some polling places in Amagu Ugbawka, Nkanu East Local Government Area. As a result, the tribunal nullified the votes and subtracted them from both parties’ totals.
Mbah’s votes were lowered by the reduction from 160, 844 to 160, 567, and Edeoga’s votes were decreased to 157, 555.
After ruling in favor of the respondents, the tribunal said that the petition of the petitioners “is hereby struck for lacking in merit.”
However, the LP and its candidate Edeoga disputed the tribunal’s decision and vowed to challenge it in court.
“We wish to convey the acknowledgment by the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, of the judgment as delivered at the tribunal, and to state our preparedness to challenge the outcome of this judgment at the Court of Appeal and to all extents as permitted by law,” Edeoga’s spokesman, George Ugwu, said in a statement.
However, Mbah applauded the Tribunal’s verdict, describing it as a victory for democracy and Enugu State.
He extended a hand of fellowship to the opposition candidates and their political parties, saying collective efforts were needed to build Enugu State.