The Labour Party, LP, and its candidate in the March 18 governorship election in Enugu State have rejected the judgment of the election petition Tribunal which dismissed their petitions for lack of merit.
The Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, on Thursday, dismissed the petition filed by the LP and its candidate, Chijioke Edoga, to challenge the victory of Governor Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 18 governorship election in the state.
The three-man tribunal, in a unanimous judgment delivered by its chairman, Justice Kudirat Akano, declared the LP’s petition against Mbah as incompetent and lacking in merit and consequently dismissed the entire grounds of the petition.
One of the major grounds of the LP’s petition was the allegation that Mbah forged his National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate. But the tribunal resolved the issue in Mbah’s favour.
“The NYSC certificate is not a qualification for anyone who wants to run for the office of the governor of the state as enshrined under Section 177 of the 1999 constitution. The academic qualifications required of any governorship candidate, as captured under Section 177 (d), is a school certificate, which has been interpreted under Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The NYSC discharge certificate is not a qualification as captured under the aforementioned section of the constitution and, therefore, cannot disqualify any person who has met the constitutional requirements and has been duly elected into the office of the governor of a state,” the tribunal held.
The tribunal also dismissed the LP’s contention that Mbah did not win a majority of valid votes at the poll.
According to the tribunal, the petitioners proved their allegation of over-voting at some polling units in Amagu Ugbawka, Nkanu East Local Government Area. The tribunal, therefore, cancelled the votes and deducted them from the votes of both parties.
The deduction reduced Mbah’s votes to 160, 567 from 160, 844, while Edeoga’s votes were reduced to 157, 555.
The tribunal said having resolved the issue in favour of the respondents, the “petition of the petitioners’ is hereby struck for lacking in merit.”
But the LP and its candidate, Edeoga, rejected the tribunal verdict, vowing to test it on appeal.
“We wish to convey the acknowledgment by the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, of the judgment as delivered at the tribunal, and to state our preparedness to challenge the outcome of this judgment at the Court of Appeal and to all extents as permitted by law,” Edeoga’s spokesman, George Ugwu, said in a statement.
However, Mbah applauded the Tribunal’s verdict, describing it as a victory for democracy and Enugu State.
He extended a hand of fellowship to the opposition candidates and their political parties, saying collective efforts were needed to build Enugu State.
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