Tribunal sacks PDP lawmaker

Sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, on Monday the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sacked the member candidate representing Ikwo\Ezza South Federal Constituency, Lazarus Ogbee.

Mr Ogbee was proclaimed the winner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) election held on February 23.

With 31,296 votes, INEC had proclaimed the PDP winner, while Mr Chinedu Ogar of All Progressive Congress APC was said to had received 27,700 votes.

But Justice Sika Henry Aprioku’s tribunal disagreed.

Instead, it proclaimed as the winner of the election its opponent and complainant in the matter, Mr. Ogar of the APC.

Mr Ogar went to court to challenge the election results, claiming that INEC had falsely lowered his votes in favor of Mr Ogbee.

In some wards Ikwo and in Onueke Urban in Ezza South, the tribunal agreed with him and restored more than 8,000 votes previously canceled by INEC.

The election’s final outcome should be 36,238 votes for the APC as opposed to 33,263 votes from the PDP.

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The Tribunal also instructed INEC to issue the return certificate for the APC candidate instantly and to cancel the one previously awarded to the PDP candidate.

“It is the first respondent that won the majority of the lawful votes in Ezza south,” the judge said. “The total number of votes scored by the petitioner(APC) and first respondent(Ogbee) 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, 200 votes.

“It is the petitioner that scored the majority of the lawful votes having scored 36, 238 votes as against the PDP candidate the first respondent who scored 33,200 votes. We entirely agreed with the petitioner that he scored the majority of the lawful votes from our own computation.

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“The certificate of return issued to the 1st respondent by the 3rd respondent (INEC) as representing Ezza south/Ikwo federal constituency is hereby withdrawn forthwith and must be issued to the petitioner, Comrade Chinedu Ogah as the winner of the election conducted on the 23rd of February, 2019 to the membership of the House of Representatives to represent Ezza South/Ikwo federal constituency,” the tribunal ruled.

Mr Ogah expressed happiness 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,” he said.

The counsel to the PDP, Roy Nweze, said the party and her candidate will appeal the judgment.

“I want to say that I am not altogether disappointed with the judgment because I expected that it will be this way. We will start drafting the notice of our appeal today,” he said.

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Counsel to the petitioner, Tofa Okweni, hailed the tribunal for carrying out a correct and authentic computation of the result.

“We looked at the entire result of the election when we reviewed the whole thing and found out that the polling unit result which forms 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,” he said.

“What they collated did not reflect the outcome of the election at the polling units. We then asked the tribunal which has the power to do by the electoral act to re-compute the result of the election based on the outcome of the election at the polling units,” he said.

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