The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu has dismissed the petition of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the February 23 National Assembly election in Enugu West Senatorial District, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, challenging the return of former Deputy senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) .
In a unanimous judgment, delivered, yesterday, the three-man panel comprising Justice Haruna Kereng, Justice Yusuf Isa, and Justice Sedoten Ogunsoya, affirmed that Ekweremadu was duly elected and also awarded N250,000 costs each against the petitioner in favour of Ekweremadu, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The petitioners had contended that the dating of the result sheets on February 23 and 24, 2019 meant that collation was still ongoing when INEC declared the results of the election, and thus amounted to noncompliance.
But delivering the judgment, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Kereng, held that evidence on all sides showed that the election was held on February 23, though the collation of results, which started on that same day extended to February 24.
Referring to the INEC guidelines, the tribunal said the election was a process and ended when the final result was declared on February 24.
On the issue of alleged over-voting, their Lordships held that the results were “dumped” on the tribunal and that the documents tendered by the petitioners remained in their envelopes after they were tendered and no reference was made to them by any of the petitioners’ witnesses.
Justice Kereng further held that evidence before the tribunal showed that accreditation was done with both the card reader and the voters’ register, noting that the law was now trite that card reader was not conclusive proof of total number of accredited voters.
In addition, the tribunal observed that the petitioners did not plead any facts or figures about alleged miscalculation or error in votes.