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Anambra election tribunal dismisses Obidigbo’s petition

26 February 2014, 12:01

Awka - The Anambra governorship election tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by an aspirant of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Chike Obidigbo, to be joined in the petition.

In a ruling in Awka on Tuesday, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ishaq Bello, said Obidigbo could not be joined in the petition in the spirit of the Electoral Act.

He said Obidigbo had no business in the tribunal.

Obidigbo had filed a petition against Willie Obiano, the candidate of APGA, who was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 He also sought to be joined in the petitions filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chris Ngige, and Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), claiming that he was the rightful candidate of APGA.

Justice Bello said it was the view of the tribunal that the applicant was not known to be a party in the election and could not statutorily be joined in the petition.

He said that law did not provide for a ceremonial respondent in an election petition as a party must be connected with the election.

"In the prevailing case, the applicant has a mistaken belief that he has a case.

"The applicant is not found anywhere in the body of the petition. Continuing with the application will amount to dragging the tribunal into intra party dispute in which the tribunal has no jurisdiction," he said.

The tribunal also ruled on the application by the counsel to INEC, Ahmed Raji (SAN), for many paragraphs in the petition filed by Nwoye to be struck out on the grounds that they were irrelevant to the main petition.

The paragraphs included the issue of alleged multiple registration by Obiano and the issue of non qualification due to the alleged multiple registration.

The others are the allegation against security agencies and APGA officials accused of facilitating the victory of Obiano and allegation of criminality against some unnamed persons.

In the ruling by Justice Akintola Akiniji, the tribunal observed that while it was not proper to strike out all the paragraphs as demanded by the INEC counsel, there were some that were pre- election matters and therefore had no reason to remain in the petition.

He said even if the allegation of multiple registration was proved, it was not one of the bases for the qualification of a candidate to stand for an election.

“Double or multiple registration is a criminal offence and there is no proof that Obiano has been charged to any court and anybody who has a case against him on that should file a case in the court which has to issue an order against him," Akiniji said.

He said that the allegation of supplying false information to INEC was not enough to disqualify a candidate, adding that there must be a court order expressly disqualifying the candidate.

According to him, the Electoral Act, as amended, stipulates that it is the court that can entertain such a matter and that should be done before the election is held.

Akiniji said the failure of the petitioner to name the agents accused of working for INEC also did a fatal blow to the petition, just as the petitioner did not state how INEC conducted the election in all the polling units in Anambra.

-  NAN

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