The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar has sacked Mr. Alex Egbonna representing Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency, the only member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that was elected in the 2019 polls in Cross River State.
The tribunal in a unanimous judgment on Wednesday read by the chairman of the 3-man panel Justice Vincent Agbata, they declare John Gual Lebo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has a candidate in the polls with the highest valid votes having considered the APC candidate, “not a lawful candidate in the eyes of the law as on the date of the election”.
The Independent National Electoral Commission was subsequently directed by the tribunal to withdraw the certificate of return issued to APC’s Alex Egbonna and reissue the same to PDP’s John Gaul Lebo.
The petition, suit number EPT/CAL/HR/11/2019 was filed by John Gaul-Lebo as petitioner challenging the declaration of Egbonna; 1st Respondent as the winner of the election into the Abi/Yakurr federal constituency seat in the National Assembly.
Among other grounds, the petitioner argued that the APC candidate was lawfully excluded from the polls and not a candidate as at the date of the polls on the 23rd of February 2019. Also that his unlawful participation witnessed electoral malpractices particularly in Ekwuruku ward one and two where over voting was recorded, with which the Independent National Electoral Commission relied on to wrongfully declare him the winner.
The tribunal agreed with all the arguments of the petitioner that APC had no candidate in the eyes of the law; “a consequent of the APC war of attrition within its ranks” and also that after cancellation of the over voting recorded in the two wards of Ekwuruku in Abi local government area, the only petitioner scored the highest vote validly cast in the polls.