Mixed Feelings in Enugu As Tribunal Sets to Issue Verdict Today
By Adeke Chukwuka
The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Enugu State is scheduled to announce its verdict today, on Thursday, September 21, 2023, regarding the petition submitted by Chijioke Edeoga, the Labour Party candidate.
Edeoga contests the declaration of Peter Mbah from the Peoples Democratic Party as the rightful governor of the state following the March 18, 2023, gubernatorial election.
The tribunal’s three-member panel, headed by Justice Kudirat Murayo, is set to render a verdict in the fiercely contested March 18 election.
Edeoga, a former Chairman of the House of Representatives on Information, brought his case before the tribunal with the aim of disqualifying Mbah and securing a declaration as the election’s victor based on having received the highest number of valid votes.
The LP candidate, Edeoga, claimed that the PDP candidate was unqualified and did not secure the highest vote count. On the other hand, Mbah argued that Edeoga wasn’t validly nominated as the LP governorship candidate and therefore lacked the right to challenge his victory.
Mbah pointed out that Edeoga participated in the PDP’s governorship primary in May 2022 and received nine votes, making him ineligible under the Electoral Act 2022 to be presented as the LP candidate.
On August 16, both parties presented their final written arguments, and subsequently, the court postponed its ruling on the petitions. In the petition, INEC was the primary respondent, while Dr. Mbah and the PDP were named as the second and third respondents, respectively.
Peter Mbah, represented by counsel Wole Olanipekun, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the LP’s petitions as lacking merit and being merely an academic exercise. The People’s Democratic Party’s counsel, Anthony Ani, SAN, argued that the petitioners’ case lacked clarity and supporting evidence.
On the other hand, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, who represented the LP and its governorship candidate, requested the tribunal to support his clients’ position and grant their requested remedies.
He asserted that it was unquestionably established that Mbah was not constitutionally qualified to run in the election due to his submission of a forged national service certificate to INEC.
Awomolo emphasised several issues raised by the petitioners, including over-voting, non-use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, and an alleged forgery of the National Youth Service Corps certificate, as reasons why his client, Edeoga, should prevail.
Additionally, heightened security measures have been put in place around the state High Court Complex to ensure security.
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