By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Imo Sate National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal has sacked the lawmaker representing Ehime Mbano/Ihite-Uboma/ Obowo federal constituency, Mr. Okeke Jonas Onwuegbu.
The tribunal, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, held that Onwuegbu, who was declared winner of the House of Representatives election that held on February 25, was not validly nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
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In the lead judgement that was read by Justice Ibrahim Mohammed, the tribunal held that in violation of the provision of section 84 (5) (c)bof the Electoral Act 2022, the PDP, conducted the primary election that produced Onwuegbu as its candidate, in a venue that was outside the constituency.
Consequently, it held that the PDP conducted a primary election that was unknown to law.
Besides, the tribunal, which conducted its proceedings in Nasarawa state, issued an order, setting aside “the purported return of the 1st respondent as winner of the Ehime Mbano/Ihite-Uboma/ Obowo federal constituency election.”
The judgement followed a petition marked: EPT/IM/HR/17/2023, which was filed before the tribunal by candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr. Nwachukwu Austine.
Even though it nullified Onwuegbu’s of election, the tribunal, said it could not issue further consequential orders that were not sought by the petitioner.
According to the tribunal, the petitioner, having failed to seek further reliefs, “we will not play the role of Santa Claus even if it is Christmas season.”
It will recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared Onwuegbu of the PDP as winner of the election with a total of 19,468 votes.
His closest rival, Okafor Chike John of the All Progressives Congress, APC, got 15, 920 votes, the LP candidate, Austine, came third with a total of 6, 877 votes, while the candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, Reginald Keke, came a distant fourth with a total of 1, 506 votes.
However, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, candidates of the APC, LP and PRP, approached the tribunal to nullify the election.
Meanwhile, the tribunal is set to deliver its judgement on the petition that the candidate of the APC, John, filed to be declared the authentic winner of the House of Reps election