Members of the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP) in Imo State were in jubilant mood yesterday as the State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Owerri, the state capital, upheld the election of their candidates.
The tribunal declared Mr. Emma Orie and Mr. Mike Ihe- anetu as the winners of the State House of Assembly election for Ohaji Egbema and Aboh Mbaise state constituencies.
Mr. Luke Chukwu and Mr. Paschal Nwogu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had challenged Orie and Iheanetu’s election on grounds that they were not duly elected by majority of votes.
Chukwu also alleged that Orie was not qualified to run for the election because according to him, the lawmaker did not possess requisite qualification (school certificate), while Paschal Nwogu, the APC candidate for Aboh Mbaise alleged that the April 11 state house of assembly polls in Aboh Mbaise was marred by violence ballot box snatching and urged the tribunal to cancel the poll..
The petitioners also alleged that the PDP candidates’ elections were invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non compliance with provisions of the electoral act.
But, in their verdict, the three- man panel of Judges—Ibrahim Mohammed, Khadi S.U. Muk- tar, and Francis Ibiam— stated that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations beyond every reasonable doubt.
Chairman of the panel, Ibrahim Mohammed had after review of the prayers and arguments and submissions made by the parties in his judgment, struck the two applications out for lacking in merits.
In the case of Aboh Mbaise State constituency, the tribunal added that the petitioner failed to prove that the grounds of his petition substantially affected the election result to his disadvantage and therefore dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
The tribunal maintained that the applicant was unable to convince the court on it claims that the election was marred by violence and was short of the electoral law.
It added that after thorough examination of the argument by the counsel of Mr Mike Iheanatu of the PDP, the court was left with no other option than to submit that the petitioner had no case against the first respondent.
Mr Mike Iheanatu, who reacted to the judgment in spite leaking the pains of his son’s death in far away Canada, told reporters that he dedicated the tribunal victory to his late son.
“I am grateful to God and the judges who went a great mile to deliver this landmark judgment I thank them immensely for upholding justice and the will of the masses.
“I however will dedicate this tribunal victory to my late son Mike Iheanatu (jnr) whose corpse is still in the morgue in Canada because he participated very assiduously in this election and I pray God Almighty to receive his soul,’’ he said.
– Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri