Court of Appeal Reverses Election Petition Tribunal’s Judgement in Aniocha Oshimili Federal Constituency, NjenjeMediaNews reports.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reversed the judgement of the Election Petition Tribunal in Asaba, which had declared Ndudi Elumelu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the Aniocha Oshimili Federal Constituency poll.
The tribunal had nullified the victory of Ngozi Okolie of the Labour Party (LP) after the February 25 election. On Thursday, the Appeal Court faulted the tribunal for voiding Okolie’s election and proceeded to strike out the petition filed by Elumelu.
Lawyer to the Labour Party, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) argued that, contrary to the tribunal’s finding, Okolie was duly nominated and sponsored by his party and that he had resigned his appointment as a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Delta State Government as required by the constitution.
The Panel of Appeal Judges held that the tribunal was wrong to have nullified Okolie’s election based on his appointment as an SSA, which they said had no bearing on his candidacy. They also faulted the tribunal’s ruling that the PDP candidate, Elumelu, was duly elected since the tribunal failed to properly determine the dispute over the candidacy of Okolie.
The court held that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to nullify Okolie’s election and as such, the election was never voided. The Appeal Court panel further noted that the PDP candidate, Elumelu, was not properly elected and as such, the tribunal’s judgement in his favour could not stand.
The Court of Appeal consequently ordered that the petition filed by Elumelu be struck out and the judgement of the tribunal be reversed. The panel of Appeal Judges further ordered that the victory of Ngozi Okolie of the Labour Party be upheld and his certificate of return be issued to him.
This landmark judgement by the Court of Appeal has put an end to the legal dispute that had been ongoing since the February 25 election. It has also reaffirmed the right of citizens to contest elections and the need for the Electoral Act to be strictly adhered to. It has also highlighted the importance of a proper determination of disputes over candidates’ nominations to ensure free and fair elections.