Supreme Court rules today on Abia, Akwa Ibom guber tussles

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Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed

Nigeria’s Supreme Court will hear the Abia State and Akwa Ibom State governorship appeals today and as they had done with other cases, the justices are expected to give a summary judgement hours after the hearing.

Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party is contesting the verdict of the Appeal Court that cancelled his election and ordered the swearing in of his challenger, Dr Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

Delivering judgment 30 December 2015, in an appeal filed by Mr. Otti, the five-member panel, headed by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, said the APGA candidate scored 164, 444 valid votes to defeat Mr. Ikpeazu who scored 114, 444 votes.

The court declared that Mr. Otti was the winner of the April 11 and April 25 supplementary elections in Abia.

Justice Omoleye said the cancellation of the elections held in three LGAs of Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Isiala Ngwa by the returning officers after the results were uploaded to INEC was wrong.

“In the Electoral Act, the Returning Officer has the right to only declare results of elections and not to cancel elections.

“This panel discovered that the earlier results uploaded to INEC headquarters correspond with the correct valid registered voters in the three LGAs, while that awarded to the respondent shows over voting and therefore null and void.’’

In Akwa Ibom state, Governor Udom Emmanuel is also contesting the Appeal court judgement that ordered for a rerun election in the state. He is being challenged by Chief Umana Okon Umana, a former secretary to the state government.

On 18 December, a five-man panel at the Court of Appeal dismissed cancelled Udom’s election, going further than the election tribunal that cancelled the election in 18 of the 31 local councils.

The appeal court said the tribunal was wrong in its refusal to comply with section 179 (2) of the Constitution.

The court said having agreed with the evidence of principal witnesses, video evidence, and evidence from state collation agents, the tribunal should have concluded that there was no collation and that votes were merely allotted.

“The question is, if there was no collation, can there be said to be an election,” the court asked. “Indeed where there was no collation of election, there cannot be said to be an election.”

All the parties in the disputes in the two states are all hopeful of victory. (The News)

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