The Appeal Court, Lagos Division, on Thursday, reaffirmed Thaddeus Attah of the Labour Party as the duly elected House of Representatives member representing Eti Osa Federal Constituency in Lagos State.
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal which sat at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, had earlier invalidated Atta’s victory.
Attah who hails from Ekperi in Etsako Central LGA of State briefed Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to appeal against the tribunal judgment on his behalf.
Ozekhome filed and argued the appeal before the three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, which on Thursday in Lagos set aside the previous decision by the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal.
The panel, in its unanimous decision, agreed with Ozekhome and held that the lower tribunal erred when it relied on the evidence of witnesses who were not party agents where elections were held or where elections were cancelled, but only came to tender Form EC 8 which they did not author before the court.
The appellate court further held that for the tribunal to conclude that the margin of votes where elections were not held or were cancelled can sway the votes cast, the list of registered voters must be presented before it. This was not done.
In addition, the court held that the “Voters’ register was never placed before the lower tribunal”, adding that the tribunal merely relied on Form EC 8 brought by witnesses who were not even the makers.
The court also held that the elections were conclusive and faulted the tribunal’s directive to the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days in specific polling units.
On the whole, the Appeal Court wholly set aside the judgment of the lower tribunal.
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, had, in a unanimous judgment, declared the elections inconclusive and ordered INEC to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days in 33 polling units where elections did not hold.
The Peoples Democratic Party candidate Bankole Wellington (Banky W), who was declared second in the polls, and the All Progressives Congress’s Ibrahim Obanikoro, had both filed petitions to challenge the elections of February 25, 2023.
INEC had declared Attah winner of the February 25 election, having scored 24,075 votes, while Banky W who was represented at the Court of Appeal by Chief Kemi Pinhero,SAN, scored 18,668; Obanikoro represented by Chief Abiodun Owoniko, SAN, scored 16,901 votes, respectively.
In his petition, Banky W had argued that the respondent was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election and that the election was invalid because of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
The popular music artist and actor had also contended that the Labour Party candidate was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.
Reacting to the judgment, Ibrahim Obanikoro in his X handle formerly Twitter, said, “I would like to congratulate Representative Jude Thaddeus Attah on his victory at the appeal court today.
“Let’s throw our support for him so that he will give us a good representation for the next four years in Eti-Osa.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.