The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State on Monday sacked the candidate of representing Ikwo\Ezza South Federal Constituency, Lazarus Ogbee.
The Court also declared the Plaintiff and Candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chinedu Ogah winner of the election.
Ogbee, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) was declared winner of the election conducted on 23rd February 2019 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC had declared that Ogbee won with 31,296 votes while it allotted Mr Chinedu Ogah of All Progressive Congress APC, 27,700 votes.
But Ogah disagreed and proceeded to the tribunal where he urged the court to declare him winner.
He alleged that there were deductions of his votes in some of the polling units and wards in the election.
The tribunal headed by Justice Sika Henry Aprioku agreed with Mr Ogah and restored over 8000 votes earlier cancelled by INEC in some wards in the constituency.
The court held that the final results of the election from evidence presented before it should be 36,238 votes for the APC as against PDP’s 33,263 votes.
The Tribunal also directed INEC to immediately issue the APC candidate certificate of return and withdraw the one issued earlier to the PDP candidate.
“It is the first respondent that won the majority of the lawful votes in Ezza south. The total number of votes scored by the petitioner(APC) and first respondent(Ogbe) 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.
“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to the 1st respondent by the 3rd respondent (INEC) as representing Ezza south/Ikwo federal constituency is hereby withdrawn forthwith and must be issued to the petitioner, Comrade Chinedu Ogah as the winner of the election conducted on the 23rd of February, 2019 to the membership of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.
Reacting Mr Chinedu 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”, Ogah said.
Counsel to the PDP, Roy Nweze said the PDP 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.
Counsel to the petitioner, Tofa Mba Okweni, SAN 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.
“What they collated did not reflect the outcome of the election at the polling units. We then asked the tribunal which has 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.