The National and State Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abakiliki has removed Chief Lazarus Ogbee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for failing to poll the majority of the lawful votes cast during the Feb. 23 election in Ezza South/ Ikwo Federal Constituency.
It, however, declared the petitioner, Mr Chinedu Ogah, of the All Progressive Congress (APC) the rightful winner of the poll.
Ogah had approached the tribunal to contest Ogbee’s declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) as the winner of the election.
Delivering his judgment on Monday, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sika Aprioku, said that from available evidence presented before the tribunal, Ogah actually polled 36,238 votes to emerge the winner.
Aprioku said: “The total number of votes scored at Ezza South/ Ikwo constituency include: Ezza LGA – APC 8,311, PDP 17,139; while in Ikwo LGA, APC scored 27,927, PDP 16,127.
“This has brought the total number of valid votes for the APC to 36,238, while PDP garnered 33, 200 votes.
“The petitioner, therefore, scored the highest number of lawful votes.”
The tribunal ordered that the certificate of return issued to the first respondent by INEC be withdrawn and issued to the petitioner as the rightful winner of the election.
Reacting to the judgment, the petitioner thanked the tribunal for the verdict, saying that it reflected the true wishes of members of the constituency.
“I thank God for this verdict and assure the people of the constituency of effective representation in the House of Representatives,” Ogah said.
Conversely, Mr Roy Umahi, Counsel for Ogbee, expressed dismay over the verdict, saying that his client would challenge it at the appeal court.
In a related development, the Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta has nullified the election of Hon. Kolapo Osunsanya representing Ijebu Central Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
The tribunal’s Chairman, Justice Wakkil Gana, declared the election inconclusive on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Osunsanya of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the Feb. 23 poll in the constituency.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the poll, Taiwo Shote, had challenged the declaration before the tribunal.
Gana, in his judgement, noted that the elections were cancelled in Ward 5, Unit 5 of Ijebu Ode council area ; Ward 10 , Unit 3 in Odogbolu council area and the entire Ward 8 of Ijebu /North – East council area of the federal constituency.
He maintained that since the margin of lead between the petitioner, Shote, and the 1st respondent , Osunsanya, was less than 4,000 while the total number of cancelled votes in the affected areas was 8,800, INEC should not have declared Osunsanya the winner of the poll.
Gana held that INEC should have declared the election inconclusive and organised a rerun election in the affected areas.
He declared that Osunsanya was not duly elected and ordered that a rerun should be conducted within 90 days in the affected wards and units.
In his reaction, Shote described the judgement as victory for the rule of law.
“I am very delighted at the judgment just delivered. I am happy that justice has been served.
” Although the wheel of justice grinds slowly, it grinds steadily and surely. It is a victory for the rule of law and the good people of the feferal constituency.
” I thank God and the good people of Ijebu Federal Constituency comprising of Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu/ North- East and Odogbolu local government areas for their unflinching support thus far, and I promise not to disappoint them,” he said.
Osunsanya, however, declined to comment on the judgment.