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HomeJudiciaryAbia: Appeal Court Affirms Lp's Otti As Governor,dismisses APC, Pdp's Petitions

Abia: Appeal Court Affirms Lp’s Otti As Governor,dismisses APC, Pdp’s Petitions

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has upheld the judgement of the tribunal affirming Alex Chioma Otti of the Labour Party (LP) as duly elected Governor of Abia State in the 18th March Governorship poll.

On March 23, INEC declared LP’s Otti winner with 175467 votes against his closest challenger, PDP’s Okey Ahiwe (88529 votes)

Dissatisfied with the results as declared, in separate appeals Ahiwe & PDP as well as Ikechi Emenike & APC approached the tribunal, praying amongst others:

-That Otti was not a registered member of the Labour Party and his name could not be found in the register of the Party 30 days to the Primaries, contrary to Section 77 of the Electoral Act 2022.

– That Otti did not score the majority of lawful votes.

-That there was over-voting and “doctoring” of results in certain parts of the State.

-That there was suppression of votes especially in Obingwa & Umuahia North & South LGAs that provoked a suspension of collation and subsequently, a review at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja.

– That there was alleged forgery with respect to the NYSC Certificate of Otti.

On 6th October 2023, the Justice Hajaratu Gwadah-led tribunal dismissed the petition. The panel held that the membership of Otti in the Labour Party is a pre-election matter and the Courts have no jurisdiction to dabble into it.

The panel also held that the claim of alleged forgery of Otti’s NYSC was not proven beyond reasonable doubts. Justice Gwadah also held that the NYSC is not a qualifying or disqualifying factor for a Candidate who intends to contest the office of a Governor in Nigeria.

The panel averred that the witnesses of the Petitioners did not speak to the documents hence, held no circumstantial value. “The Petitioners separately and collectively did not show evidence that the results were doctored in Abuja before it returned to the State, hence the claim is hearsay and ought to be discountenanced.”

Not happy with the outcome, the PDP & APC together with their respective Candidates appealed the separate judgements of the tribunal.

The Appeal Court held that the Petitions brought forth by the appellants can be likened to a comedy skit brought into a democratic setting.

They held that the membership of Otti is a domestic affair of the Labour Party. They held that Otti joined the LP, contested the Party’s Primary, won and was further duly sponsored by the Party.

On the issues of Bimodial Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, brought by the PDP & Ahiwe, the Appeal Court said the appellants failed to demonstrate or link their documentary evidence to the specific parts of the case.

The three-man panel upheld in toto the tribunal verdict and further dismissed the separate appeals for having no scintilla of merit.

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