The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Umuahia has taken a decisive stance, leading to the removal of three House of Representatives members from their positions, all of whom were elected under the banner of the Labour Party.
A panel, presided over by Justice Adeyinka Aderebgbe, made a momentous decision by unseating Mr. Ibe Okwara Osonwa, the representative of Arochukwu/Ohafia federal constituency. This decision was based on his failure to comply with the electoral act of 2022, as brought forth in a petition submitted by Chief Daniel Okeke, a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.
Consequently, the tribunal has instructed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to revoke Mr. Osunwa’s certificate of return and reissue a new one to Mr. Okeke.
In a parallel case, Justice Hajaratu Hajjo Lawa’s panel invalidated the election of Munachim Alozie, who represented Obingwa/Osisioma Ngwa/Ugwunagbo federal Constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives. The court has also directed INEC to conduct a rerun in select wards within Osisioma Ngwa council within the next 90 days.
The tribunal’s decision was grounded in its ruling that the LP candidate, Alozie, had been erroneously declared the winner, and this declaration could not be upheld.
Delivering the judgment on behalf of the three-member tribunal, Prof. Muhammad Mahmud pointed out that the number of lead votes exceeded the number of voters disenfranchised in some polling units who collected their Permanent Voters Cards.
Ibe Michael Nwoke, a candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), lodged the petition after the Labour Party candidate was declared the victor in the February 25th elections. Nwoke implored the court, among other requests, to annul the election, citing that Alozie was not legitimately elected, and his election was invalidated based on the margin of lead.
Furthermore, in a related development, another tribunal panel invalidated the election of Mr. Emeka Nnamani, who represented the Aba North/Aba South Federal Constituency, on grounds of certificate forgery.
In response, the tribunal declared Chief Alex Ikwecheghi, a candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as the rightful winner of the election. In accordance with this ruling, INEC has been directed to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mr. Nnamani and issue a new one to Chief Ikwecheghi.