Tribunal sacks Imo PDP senator, Achonu, orders fresh polls

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INEC-boxThe Elections Petition Tribunals sitting in Owerri on Tuesday sacked the senator representing Imo North Senatorial District (Okigwe Zone) in the National Assembly, Senator Athan Achonu, and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election within 90 days of the judgment to elect a senator for the senatorial zone.

Just as this was happening, another tribunal also sitting in Owerri upheld the election of Hon. Ezenwa Onyewuchi as the member representing Owerri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives following the striking out of the petitions of the candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Social Democratic Party, SDP in the March 28, 2015, National Assembly elections in the constituency namely: Hon. Chuks Ololo and Earnest Ibejiako respectively.

Delivering Judgment in the petition filed by the candidate of the Accord Party for the March 28, 2015 Okigwe senatorial poll, Mrs. Rita Ibemere Okoroafor challenging the unlawful exclusion of her party logo and symbol from the customized ballot paper for her senatorial zone and further claim that the unlawful exclusion vitiated substantial compliance of the said election with the provisions of the Electoral Act, the tribunal ruled that the Accord Party candidate proved her case beyond all reasonable doubt.

Reading the judgment on behalf of other tribunal members, Hon. Justice Garba I.B argued that the tribunal had no option than to accede to the petitioner’s request to nullify the poll because her witnesses and evidence before the court were consistent and established beyond all reasonable doubts that she was not only unlawfully excluded but also that the election did not meet substantial compliance as demanded by the Electoral Act.

The tribunal also described as totally unacceptable INEC’s claim that it rectified the omission by using the customized ballot for Imo East (Owerri Zone) following its discovery two days to the election that the logo and symbol of Accord Party was missing as the court noted that the attempt was akin to digging a new pit to fill an old one since it would have resulted in the unlawful exclusion of parties whose logos and symbols were omitted in Imo East (Owerri Zone) ballot paper.

Consequent upon the above illegal and unconstitutional breaches the court accordingly upheld the petition on its merit and ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in which the petitioner as the duly nominated candidate of her party would participate in within 90 days from the date of the judgment. (Daily Independent)

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