By Ifeoma Amakonze, Umuahia

Abia State wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has hailed the victory of the Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives and Member representing Isiukwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency at the tribunal sitting in Umuahia today.

A three member panel headed by Justice Cornelius Akintayo as the chairman after hearings, struck the petition out for lacking in merit.

Onyejeocha’s victory in the March 23, 2019 National Assembly election was challenged by Hon. Jude Udeachara of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The petition by Udeachara (petitioner) also had the electoral umpire, INEC as the second respondent in it.

Udeachara amongst alleging other things like corrupt practices and violence asked the tribunal to declare the election inconclusive and a rerun ordered at the polling units where he alleged election did not hold on March 23, 2019.

Jubilant APC leaders and members

The three member panel unanimously agreed and held that the petitioner could not prove his case beyond reasonable doubt.

They however held that failure of the petitioner’s counsel to rightly address the title of the petition rendered the petition “fatally ineffective.”

They held that addressing the tribunal as National Assembly tribunal presupposes that it has no right to entertain state House cases.

They noted that a tribunal is the creation of the law and should not be given another name by any counsel, hence it dismissed the petition for being wrongly titled and addressed.

The tribunal went further to disallow further prayers brought by the petitioner after the constitutional 21 days allowed to do so.

They held that those allegedly disenfranchised according to the petitioner did not adduce evidence that they could have voted for the PDP candidate if they were allowed to vote.

They held that even if the votes Udeachara was arguing were credited to him, Onyejeocha would still have won with 14,478-10,064.

They also held that the petitioner was unable to link the claims of the corrupt practices to the first respondent.

The tribunal further said that the petitioner failed to prove a link between the perpetrators of the alleged violence and corrupt practices and the first respondent.

The tribunal subsequently struck the petition out for lacking in merit.

They held further that the respondent was dully returned and awarded N200,000 cost against the petitioner in favour of each of the respondents.

Reacting to the ruling, the APC Publicity Secretary in Abia State, Comrade Benedict Godson described the victory simply as Justice.

He said that challenging Onyejeocha’s victory in the first place is as funny as one checking the colour of a wristwatch on one’s wrist through the mirror when the colour is already absolutely visible.

“Her victory at the tribunal makes her victory at the poll more sweet. Honestly, I don’t think someone like her should be there in the first place.

“The woman is just the ‘special one’ of the National Assembly. She’s the only female principal officer in the current National Assembly and the lone voice of women there. Her people love her and that’s why she has been there since 2007.

“Her legislative experience is important to everyone in Nigeria especially where we come from. So, this is a sweet victory and we as a party wish her success in all things.”

FROM THE TOWER OF TRUTH

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