Tribunal upholds Mbah’s election in Enugu
• Edeoga vows to appeal judgement
• Verdict victory for democracy, says gov
The Enugu State Governorship Election Tribunal, yesterday, upheld the March 18, 2023, election of Governor Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The three-man panel led by Justice Kudirat Akano unanimously ruled that Mbah won majority of lawful votes cast in the election, dismissing petitions filed by the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Chijioke Edeoga, and that of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Chris Agu, challenging Mbah’s election as incompetent and lacking in merit.
It went further to deduct 328 votes from the total of 160,895 votes earlier accredited to Mbah by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Enugu East Council and four votes out of 157,552 votes accredited to Edeoga as over voting in the area. The development left a total score for Mbah at 160,567 votes and Edeoga 157,548 votes.
But no sooner had the over five hours court session risen when the counsel to Edeoga, Dr Valerie Azinge, disagreed with the reasoning adduced by the panel in arriving at their decision, appealing to the tribunal chairperson to avail them a copy of the judgment to enable them exercise their right.
Edeoga, who finished second in the election, had petitioned the tribunal, praying it to void the election of Mbah for non-qualification, stressing that he allegedly submitted forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate to INEC.
He also prayed that Mbah’s emergence was not in compliance with the Electoral Act, adding that Mbah did not garner lawful votes cast in the election. Edeoga further said that there was a bypass of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine in the collection of votes, and over-voting in some polling units in Nkanu East, Igboeze North and Enugu East.
Ruling on the petitions, the tribunal, which relied on Sections 177 and 138 of the Constitution, held that NYSC discharge certificate was not among the requirements for qualification of a person for the office of the governor of a state.
Justice Akano further held that allegations of bypass and non-usage of BVAS during the election at Nkanu East could not be proven since the petitioner did not produce the machine as evidence as required by law.
Edeoga, who reacted to the judgment, expressed his readiness to challenge it at the Court of Appeal and to all extents as permitted by law.
Meanwhile, Mbah has expressed excitement following the tribunal’s judgement in his favour. The governor, however, extended hands of fellowship to the opposition candidates and their political parties, saying the task to build Enugu remained a collective one.
Addressing the state, Mbah said: “This is another memorable day in the anals of our state, as the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal affirmed the mandate, which you freely gave to us on March 18 this year.
“This is a victory for Ndi Enugu. It is also a victory for democracy.”
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