The Governorship and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, on Friday affirmed the reelection Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
It threw away the petition brought before the tribunal by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Alex Otti, challenging the declaration of Ikpeazu as the winner of the 2019 polls in the state.
Otti had approached the tribunal seeking the nullification of Ikpeazu as the winner of the poll, but the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Lekan Ogunmoye said that the petitioner failed to prove the alleged non-compliance to the Electoral Guidelines in the said 15 LGAs.
Ogunmoye further stated that the petitioner failed to prove the case of over-voting and alleged irregularities.
According to Justice Ogunmoye, all the reliefs sought by Otti and APGA were dismissed and described the application as unmeritorious.
Counsel to the respondent, Chief Paul Ananaba (SAN) appreciated the Tribunal for delivering what he described as unbiased and sound judgment. But Otti’s lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) said “the judgment has moved the law forward. The position of the tribunal is that the decision of the Supreme Court in the case regarding card reader is no longer the law.
“The law has been amended as was decided in Wike and others and the tribunal actually agreed that the law has changed. There is an amendment now.
“However they believe that the infraction which has been done to the election, in this case, is not substantial enough to nullify the election.”
Reacting to the judgment, Ikpeazu who spoke at the Governor’s lodge, Umuahia invited Otti to join hands with him in the development of the state.
Ikpeazu said the “APGA candidate should sheath his sword and respect the will of the people and join hands to build Abia,” adding, “there is a space for everybody.”