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Ikpeazu V Otti: Electoral Observers Fault Court Of Appeal Judgement

Group, under the aegis of Coalition of INEC Accredited Domestic Election Observers, that monitored the April 2015 governorship election in Abia State, has faulted the ruling of the Justice Oyebisi Omoleye-led Panel of the Court of Appeal that nullified the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, saying the ruling was premeditated, stressing that the appellant court was wrong in declaring Alex Otti of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) winner after cancelling the governorship election from three local government area in the state, which include Obingwa, Osisioma, and Isialangwa North, where Governor Ikpeazu won.
The coalition that is made up of 33 accredited election observers include; African Initiative For Sustainable And Positive Development, Global Development Center For Rescue Mission in Nigeria, Justice and Equity Organization, Women Making Difference Initiative, Strength Of Nigeria Women In Democracy, Legislative People Oriented Support Initiative, among other.
In a statement issued in Abuja and jointly signed leaders of 33 electoral observers that formed the coalition, the group said::
‘We, the Coalition of INEC accredited election observer groups for Nigeria 2015 general elections views with great shock and dismay the recent Appeal Court judgement which awarded the electoral victory to the APGA gubernatorial candidate for the Abia State Governorship elections; Chief Alex Otti.
‘Being the bonify, certified and accredited groups by INEC to duly observe the said election including the supplementary elections that cut across and staggered around nine Local Government Areas, the decision of the Appeal Court without due recourse to the fact on ground based on fair augment and reasoning is nothing but a slap on the face of equity and fair judgment.
“As INEC accredited election observers, it still beats our imagination as to what yardstick or parameter or judicial construct the Appeal Court had employed to declare the APGA gubernatorial candidate’ Chief Alex Otti winner of the entire polling exercise.
‘Based on the votes Court of Appeal allotted to APGA and PDP, it is still very wrong to have declared Alex Oti of APGA winner of the entire election considering the winning margin between them and the strength of voters in the three LGAs where elections were said to have been cancelled. The judgement therefore saw well over 120 legible voters unlawfully disenfranchised. As stakeholders in the electoral process and exercise, the body of accredited observers joined Abia State indigenes to condemn the Appeal court judgment because we see it as uncooked, hasty and premeditated.

‘While we urge Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to seek immediate redress of the Appeal Court Judgement at the Supreme Court, we caution those incensing for urgent and quick swearing in of the APGA candidate, to see reason in the folly of desperation as the incumbent Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has declared his interest and determination to seek redress in the Supreme Court. It must be borne in mind that as an incumbent Chief Executive, he has his inalienable right to exhaust all judicial processes and measures to protect his God given mandate. So, until the Supreme Court conclude on his case Dr. Okezie Ikpaezu still remains the Executive Governor of AbiaState.
‘It must be borne in mind that Obingwa is the immediate electoral constituency of His Excellency; Okezie Ikpeazu. So we deem the outright cancellation of his immediate constituency election as an affront borne out of a calculated conspiracy to rub him of his well deserved victory. We the civil society groups committed to strengthening democratic principles in Nigeria must resist all attempts aimed at presenting our corporate image as a democratic nation on negative note before the global community.’
The group further states; “It could be remembered that although Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu at the initial polls of April 11th 2015 had won the election, he maintained a gentlemanly attitude when INEC declared the election inconclusive; with the directive for a supplementary election within some LGAs as to allow for total participation of voters in choosing their Governor through the ballot in line with our laws. Thus, the Abia State Election Tribunal had, following the declaration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu winner of that election upheld his victory after due and thorough investigation on the entire process. The reaction of the Appeal Court in this direction by declaring Chief Alex Otti winner of that entire election has left the whole Abia State Electorates spellbound as it gives nothing short of negative expectations to the entire Abia State populace.’
The group added that the court of Appeal was also wrong to have allotted votes to political parties without consideration to the wishes and choices of the electorates and voters who took pride in exercising their civic responsibilities to participate in the voting exercise; with a view to electing a leader of their choice as against the court choosing Governor for them.
‘The court of appeal was wrong for not giving due consideration to the petitions and observations submitted by the PDP on the compositions/characters of the members of the panel and their biased/open romance with APGA.
‘It is obviously clear that based on the judgement, the court of Appeal read out the script of their pay masters who are bent on destabilizing the peace of the state thereby causing unnecessary political apprehension as to achieve their selfish ends. If not, as learned and highly respected gentlemen that are well knowledgeable with our relevant electoral laws, the worst judgement would have been to call for a rerun in the affected cancelled LGAs, not to unlawfully declare somebody winner of an election in such circumstance.’

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