The State House of Assembly election petition tribunal sitting in Owerri has nullified the election of the member representing Owerri West State Constituency, Mr. Victor Onyewuchi.
Onyewuchi of the All Progressives Congress,APC, was dragged before the tribunal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2015 governorship/assembly elections, Mr. Chidi Ihemedu.
Ihemedu challenged the election on the grounds of electoral malpractices and non compliance with the electoral laws in the conduct of the election in eleven polling units of four electoral wards.
The PDP candidate, in his petition, prayed the tribunal to invalidate the results of the affected units and order for fresh election.
Delivering judgment, the tribunal noted that the onus of proof lies with the petitioner, which he did with submissions of relevant evidence.
The tribunal, however, stated that the first respondent failed to efficiently counter the allegations in his response.
The tribunal explained that testimonies of witnesses presented by the respondents’ counsel were contradictory and unreliable.
The tribunal, therefore, ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections in eleven polling units across the constituency within 90 days from Tuesday, October 06, 2015.
Speaking with journalists, Ihemedu expressed happiness that the judiciary was still alive to its duties as the last hope of the common man.
He stated that the judgment was another chance “given to us by God to right the wrongs of the past election because we saw a situation where there was hooliganism, outright bestiality right there at the local government headquarters”.
However, speaking through his personal assistant, Dr. Collins Anah, Onyewuchi said the decision of the tribunal was surprising because “the PDP was claiming that election did not hold in the affected wards and units and during the process we were able to prove that elections actually held in all the affected polling booths. We also brought results from the booths. But we are surprised that the tribunal ruled and cancelled the election despite the evidences before it”.
Onyewuchi indicated his interest to approach the Court of Appeal.
– Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri