Electoral Shake-Up: Tribunal Ousts Three Labour Party Representatives in Abia State Elections, Orders Rerun
In a significant development, the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, convened in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, delivered a verdict on Monday that has resulted in the removal of three House of Representatives’ members affiliated with the Labour Party.
Presided over by Justice Adeyinka Aderibigbe, the tribunal reached a decision to unseat Mr. Ibe Okwara Osunwa, the representative for the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency. The tribunal cited non-compliance with the Electoral Act of 2022 in response to a petition brought forth by Daniel Okeke, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the election.
In consequence, the tribunal ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to revoke Osunwa’s certificate of return and issue a new one to Okeke.
In a related matter, another tribunal panel led by Justice Hajaratu Hajjo Lawa nullified the election of Munachim Alozie, who had been representing the Obingwa/Osisioma/Ugwunagbo Federal Constituency. The court further stipulated the need for a rerun election to take place within the next 90 days in accordance with constitutional provisions.
The tribunal’s ruling emphasized that the declaration of the Labour Party (LP) candidate was erroneous and therefore untenable.
Prof. Muhammad Mahmud, speaking on behalf of the three-man panel under Lawal’s leadership, articulated that the number of leads in the election exceeded the number of voters disenfranchised in certain polling units, who had collected their Permanent Voter Cards.
Ibe Michael Nwoke, the Young Progressives Party candidate, had taken the matter to court following Alozie’s victory in the National Assembly election on February 25, asserting the invalidity of Alozie’s election due to the margin of lead.
While counsel for the YPP’s candidate expressed satisfaction with the tribunal’s decision, the LP’s legal representatives have signaled their intent to appeal the case.
Likewise, another panel within the tribunal nullified the election of Mr. Emeka Nnamani, who had been representing the Aba North and South Federal Constituency, on grounds of certificate forgery. The tribunal declared Alex Ikwueche, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, as the rightful winner and directed INEC to revoke Nnamani’s certificate of return, issuing a new one to Ikwueche.