Just In: Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Delivers Judgement

Just In: Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Delivers Judgement Just In: Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Delivers Judgement

In a highly anticipated ruling today, the Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has delivered its verdict in case number EPT/EB/GOV/01/2023, involving the petitioners, Benard Odoh & Anor, and the respondents, led by Rt. Hon. Francis O. Nwifuru & Ors.

Summary of the Tribunal’s Judgement:

The petitioners, Benard Odoh & Anor, failed to substantiate their claim that the 2nd Respondent, Rt. Hon. Francis O. Nwifuru, was not qualified to contest the Governorship Election due to alleged party membership issues. The Tribunal found substantial material evidence indicating that the 2nd Respondent duly resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Tribunal ruled that the petitioners failed to approach the proper court to address the issue of membership within a political party. Additionally, the Tribunal noted that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain issues that occurred before the election. Only aspirants who participated in the primaries of the 3rd Respondent (PDP) had the right to challenge the 2nd Respondent’s membership. The Tribunal emphasized that no court has the authority to interfere in a political party’s internal affairs.

The allegation made by the petitioners that the 2nd Respondent’s APC Form was forged lacked supporting evidence, and thus, the Tribunal dismissed this claim.

The Tribunal highlighted that when a political party submits a candidate’s name to INEC, it implies that the candidate is a bona fide member of that party. The Exhibit R5, which contained the votes and proceedings of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, clearly revealed the date of the 2nd Respondent’s defection from PDP to APC.

The Tribunal clarified that it couldn’t invoke section 109 of the 1999 constitution as amended against the 2nd Respondent, but rather, this should be directed at members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.

The Tribunal deemed it unjust to disqualify the 2nd Respondent from contesting the Governorship election solely because he failed to vacate his seat in accordance with a previous judgement by Justice Ekwo.

In the final analysis, the Tribunal concluded that the only ground for qualification, which was membership of APC, was a pre-election matter. As the petitioners failed to prove all the grounds of their petition, the Tribunal has accordingly struck it out.

This landmark judgement has significant implications for the political landscape of Ebonyi State, affirming the eligibility of Rt. Hon. Francis O. Nwifuru to hold the office of Governor. The ruling marks a decisive conclusion to this election petition, with potential ramifications for the state’s political future.


Written by Nwokwu Chukwuemeka (Obinwannem News correspondent Ebonyi State)
Date: September 29, 2023
Published by Ugwu Okechukwu (Obinwannem ndi Igbo)

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