Anambra Central: Tribunal affirms Umeh’s victory

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The Anambra Central Senatorial Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Awka, on Friday struck out a petition challenging the victory of Sen. Victor Umeh in the Jan. 13, Anambra senatorial rerun election.

The three-man tribunal presided by Justice H. A. Olusiyi, Justice A. O. Ayoola, and Justice A. U. Birnin Kudu dismissed the five reliefs sought by the petitioner as lacking merit and the inability of the applicant to prove his case.

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The petitioner, Mr Nkem Ekweozoh, the candidate of the Mega Peoples Progressives Party (MPPP), had sought the voidance of Umeh’s victory on five grounds.

Ekweozoh claimed that Umeh was not duly elected by majority of valid votes cast at the election and that the victory was invalid as it was fraught with corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

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He further said that Umeh was not qualified to contest the election as his nomination came at a time he was still the national chairman of his party, APGA.

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Ekweozoh equally claimed that Umeh spent far above the maximum election expenses of N40 million as stipulated by law.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were joined in the petition marked “EPT/AN/SEN/01/2018’’ as second and third respondents respectively.

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Delivering a unanimous judgment, that lasted more than five hours, Justice Olusiyi described the petitioner as a “`meddlesome interloper” and noted that Ekweozoh lacked the locus standi to contest the outcome of the election.

The panel further ruled that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to look into one of the complaints which related to Umeh’s nomination, sponsorship and candidature.

Olusiyi also described Ekweozoh as `a “rabble rouser” for making heavy weather of the issues of Umeh’s sponsorship and nomination when he was not a member of APGA or an aggrieved aspirant.

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“You cannot meddle into the domestic affairs of a party to which you are a complete stranger.”

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“All the particulars of fact in support of the petitioner’s grounds that Umeh at the time of the election was not qualified to contest the election were not proved by any credible evidence known to our laws and therefore the petition had failed woefully,” he concluded.

Reacting to the judgment, Mr Ikeobi Ejiofor, a political associate of Umeh, who led other supporters to the tribunal, said the victory was not only for Anambra people but for the entire South-East.

Ejiofor, who is also the chairman of Anaocha Local Government of Anambra, said with the victory Umeh would now settle down to continue to provide voice to Anambra people and Igbo people in the Senate.

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Ekweozoh who also spoke said he would appeal against the judgment on the grounds that the same lacuna that robbed off Mrs Uche Ekwunife of Peoples Democratic Party victory in her senatorial position also played out in his matter.

“I am pained that the tribunal tagged me a meddlesome interloper for challenging Umeh’s nomination by APGA when it was the same situation that robbed Mrs Ekwunife her victory after 2015 general election,’’ he said.

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Ekweozoh, who was represented by his 90-year old father and legal practitioner called to bar in 1958, said his father would equally petition several flaws noticed during the trial and judgment of his matter.

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