Supporters of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) broke into celebration, victory songs and almost turned the premises of the Court of Appeal into a carnival ground as the court reaffirmed the ruling of the Anambra State Election Petitions Tribunal on the victory of Chief Willy Obiano in the November 2013 governorship election.
Delivering judgment in four separate appeals, the five justices of the court: Hon. Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba; Hon. Justice Ejembi Eko; Hon Justice I.O. Akeju; Hon. Justice Tijjani Abubakar; and Hon Justice M. Mustapha, yesterday, unanimously dismissed the appeals of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate, Senator Chris Ngige; the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP), its candidate Tony Nwoye; and governorship aspirant in the election, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, for lack of merit.
In the election Ngige, came third behind Obiano while Nwoye of the PDP came second. Ngige and Nwoye had proceeded to appeal after losing at the Election Petition Tribunal presided by Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello, which on June 4 in Awka upheld the victory of Obiano, declaring that he was validly elected, as the November 16, 17 and 30 governorship ballot complied substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution.
Pronouncing ruling in the appeal by Ngige against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Obiano, APGA, and others, the Presiding Justice, Mohammed Garba said: “The appeal lacks merit and is dismissed in its entirety. The ruling of the Election Tribunal on June 4, 2014, is hereby affirmed by me. I have assessed cost at N50,000 in favour of the third respondent (Obiano).”
That became the pattern in the subsequent appeals, as each Justice affirmed the lack of merit in the appeals. On the second ruling, which is the appeal by Nwoye against INEC, Obiano and others, the PDP candidate had, like Ngige, canvassed a cancellation of the election and a fresh poll held because of irregularities and the double registration by Obiano. His appeal was also unanimously dismissed by the five justices, and N50,000 cost awarded in favour of Obiano.”
The PDP’s appeal which was similar to the one by Nwoye was also dismissed in similar fashion.
Dr. Obidigbo, an APGA governorship aspirant, who wanted the court to declare him the rightful candidate of the party after he merged with the candidate of another faction of the party, also canvassed a cancellation of the election and a fresh election held.
The Presiding Justice apologized for the delay in delivering the ruling following extensive typographical errors in the judgement. These errors necessitated the delay of the ruling from 9am till 2 pm. Although the corrections of errors could not be completed at the time of the delivery, Garba opted to pronounce the ruling without reading the entire judgment.
Taking time off the celebrations, the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh told journalists that the party was grateful to God for the Judiciary.
He noted that, “it has become obvious that over 95 per cent of judicial officers in this country have decided to uphold the rule of law and principles of law. Today, a five-man panel of the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed all the appeals standing against our victory at the lower tribunal in Awka following our victory at the governorship election in November 2013.
“We were not in doubt that all these appeals will be dismissed because APGA’s candidate, Chief Obiano, won this election. Our opponents, the APC and PDP, decided to head to the Tribunal. During the hearing at the Tribunal, they did not prove anything, and the Tribunal ruled in our favour. Both the APC and its candidate, the PDP, and another petitioner, who claimed to be a member of APGA, Chike Obidigbo, had their petitions dismissed for lack of merit.”
---------DAILY TIMES NIGERIA, SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014