Home News Tribunal affirms Nwifuru’s election as Ebonyi governor
News - September 27, 2023

Tribunal affirms Nwifuru’s election as Ebonyi governor

The Ebonyi State Election Petitions Tribunal has affirmed the election of the governor of the state, Francis Nwifuru.  The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced Francis Nwifuru winner of the poll after he polled a total of 199,131 votes to defeat Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled a total of 80,191 votes. Following the declaration of Nwifuru as winner of the election, Odii and PDP rejected the outcome and vowed to challenge it. They subsequently approached the Tribunal seeking the nullification of Nwifurus election on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and alleged failure to score the majority of lawful votes cast at the guber poll. Odii and the PDP legal team argued that the governor was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election on the platform of the APC because he was still a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.  During the court hearing, Nwifurus party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), submitted a letter before the Tribunal showing that the governor resigned from the PDP while serving as speaker of the state House of Assembly, and defected to the APC before its primary election. Delivering judgment in the petition today Wednesday, September 27, the three-man panel of the Tribunal chaired by Justice O. Lekan held that it lack jurisdiction to hear the issue of nomination and sponsorship by a political party, as it is a pre-election matter and should have been challenged before the Federal High Court before the election.  The Tribunal then declined jurisdiction to entertain the grounds of Nwifurus sponsorship of APC, saying it was an internal political party matter. The Tribunal also said it could not overturn a Federal High Court judgment which observed that Nwifuru defected to the APC while serving as a lawmaker, faulting the PDP for not appealing the trial court judgment before now. The panel observed that the petitioners were consistently inconsistent when they initially contended that Nwifuru was still their member at the time but eventually admitted he had defected to the APC.  On the PDPs assertion regarding alleged overvoting, mutilation and inflation of results, the Tribunal observed that the petitioners called 20 witnesses who failed to prove that the disputed polling units results sheets were defective or not stamped in line with relevant laws. The Tribunal observed that the petitioners failed to produce the polling unit results given to their polling unit agents as evidence of alleged electoral malpractice. The allegations of the petitioners remains unproven, Lekan maintained, citing a Supreme Court judgment which states that overvoting can only be proved using the Voters Register, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System report and Form EC8As.  Subsequently, the panel dismissed the petition, affirming Nwifuru as the duly elected governor of the state. The post Tribunal affirms Nwifurus election as Ebonyi governor appeared first on Linda Ikeji Blog.

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