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By David Uka, Abakaliki.
The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, has declared Comrade chinedu Oghah of All Progressives Congress(APC) candidate for Ezza South/Ikwo Federal constituency as the winner of the February 23rd National Assembly elections in Ebonyi State..
Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) had declared Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) candidate in the election, Chief Lazarus Ogbee as the winner of the election.
INEC declared that Ogbee polled 31,296 votes while Ogah got 27,700 votes.
Dissatisfied with the results, Ogah proceeded to the tribunal alleging that there were deductions of his votes in some of the polling units and wards in the election and should be declared winner of the election.
The Tribunal which restored the said cancelled votes in the election declared that Ogah scored the lawful votes and was validly elected.
Delivering Judgement, the chairman of the three man panel Justice Sika Henry Aprioku declared Ogah winner, stating that from evidences presented before the Tribunal to back up his claim, he scored 36,238 votes in the election while Hon. Laz Ogbee of the Peoples Democratic Party scored 33,263.
The Tribunal ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ogbee and give it to Ogah.
“It is the first respondent that won the majority of the lawful votes in Ezza south. The total number of votes scored by the petitioner(APC) and first respondent(Ogbe) for Ezza south/ Ikwo federal constituency is tabulated as follows; Ezza south LGA APC 8, 311, PDP 17,139. Ikwo LGA APC 27, 927 PDP 16, 127. The total votes for APC is 36, 238 . The total votes for PDP 33,316 votes” the chairman stated.
In his reaction, Mr Roy O.U. Nweze, counsel to 2nd respondent (I.e. PDP) accused the Chairman of being hostile and refused to look at issues presented, stating he was in a hurry to deliver judgement.
“I want to say that I am not all together disappointed with the judgment because I expected that it will be this way. We will start drafting the notice of our appeal today” he noted.
Also reacting, counsel to the petitioner, Tofa Mba Okweni, SAN stated, “We looked at the entire result of the election when we reviewed the whole thing and found out that the polling unit results which form the basis of the election were not what were collected at the ward level and we filed our petition challenging the result declared by INEC on the grounds that they did not collate the proper result of the election.
“What they collated did not reflect the outcome of the election at the polling units. We then asked the tribunal which has power to do by the electoral act to recompute the result of the election based on the outcome of the election at the polling units”.
Reacting to the judgement, Ogah said that the Tribunal has restored the mandate of the masses who voted for the APC during the election.
” I feel happy over the judgment. It showcased that the mandate of the masses has been restored. This has shown what the tribunal can do. They really looked in the eye of the masses. They have seen that the masses voted for the APC.”