Election Petition: Ekweremadu floors APC's Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu

By AdvocateNews on 09/09/2019

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The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu has dismissed the petition of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the 2019 National Assembly election in the Enugu West Senatorial District, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwangwu, challenging the return of former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the Senator for the senatorial district.

In a unanimous judgment, the three-man panel comprising Justice Haruna Kereng, Justice Yusuf Isa, and Justice Sedoten Ogunsoya, affirmed that Ekweremadu was duly elected and also awarded N250,000 costs each  against the petitioner in favour of Ekweremadu, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

On the contention by the petitioners that the dating of the result sheets on February 23 and 24, 2019 meant that collation was still ongoing when INEC declared the results of the election, and thus amounted to non-compliance, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Kereng, who delivered the judgment, held that evidence on all sides showed that the election was held on February 23, but the collation of results, which started on that same day extended to February 24.

Referring to the INEC Guidelines, the Tribunal held said that the election was a process, and ended when the final result was declared on February 24.

On the issue of alleged over-voting, their Lordships held that the results were “dumped” on the Tribunal and that the documents tendered by the petitioners remained in their envelopes after they were tendered and no reference was made to them by any of the petitioners’ witnesses.

Regarding the issue of accreditation, Justice Kereng held that evidence before the Tribunal showed that accreditation was done with both the card reader and the voters’ register, noting that the law was now trite that card reader was not conclusive proof of total number of accredited voters.

The Tribunal further observed that the petitioners did not plead any facts or figures about alleged miscalculation or error in votes.

The Tribunal also noted that whereas the petition relied so much on allegations of crime levelled against unnamed persons, those persons were not joined in the petition and were not disclosed throughout the trial. It also added that assuming any such crimes were committed, Ibeakaku-Nwagwu and APC did not prove that alleged suspects were agents of Ekweremadu or the PDP, hence failed to satisfy the principle of the law on this issue or prove such beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Kereng therefore said that in view of the evidence before it, it had no other option than to dismiss the petition and affirm the election and return of the Ekweremadu as Senator for Enugu West Senatorial District.

Posted 09/09/2019 4:55:13 PM


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