By Vivian Okejeme
The Court of Appeal, Abuja division, yesterday, affirmed the verdict of the Imo State Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the election of the Governor Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor of Imo state.
The five-man panel of the appeal court justices led by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, dismissed the appeal filed by Senator Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance(AA) Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressive Congress(APC) and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) for lacking in merit.
The appellate court, on the appeal lodged by Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance, challenging Ihedioha, agreed with the preliminary objection by the PDP and governor Ihedioha that the appeal was faulty.
It held that the appeal is faulty and is also lacking in merit. The court also awarded the cost of 500000 naira against Nwosu.
‘’We find the preliminary objection sustained. We found merit in ground 3 and 4. The appeal is dismissed and award of N500.000 is hereby awarded against the appellant,’’ the judge held.
On the appeal instituted by Senator Hope Uzodinma and the All Progressive Congress (APC) the court held that the tribunal looked at the evidence loop hole placed before it and that it is settled law that hear say evidence is not admissible in court.
Consequently, it held that issues 1, 2, and 4 are resolved against Sen. Uzodinma and the APC.
On issue 3 which borders on the dismissal of documents the appeal court resolved it in favour of Uzodinma.
According to the court the tribunal went out of its jurisdiction in resolving the issues but that notwithstanding, the appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed.
Also, the court awarded a cost of N500, 000 against the appellants.
The Appeal court had on the appeal filed by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and his governorship candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, the court held that all the evidence adduced by the appellant is impeachable, consequently, it resolved issue one in favour of the despondent.
‘’ The decision of the tribunal of 20 September is affirmed and the cost of N500,000 is awarded against the appellant,’’ the court held.
A three man panel of the tribunal had in unanimous decisions, on September 21, held that Ihedioha was lawfully declared winner of the governorship election by INEC.
The lead judge, Justice Malami Dongondaji, had in the judgment dismissed Ararume, Nwosu and Uzodinma’s petitions for lacking in merit on the grounds that they failed to prove allegations made in their petitions.
Dissatisfied by the decision of the tribunal, the appellants headed to Appeal court asking it to set aside the judgement of the lower court.
In the appeal, the appellants were asking the court to void the election of Ihedioha on grounds that he did not obtain the constitutional one quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, in line with Section 179 of the Constitution.
In their various submissions by their counsel, the appellants are asking the court to set aside the decision of the tribunal and declare them winner of the March 9 governorship election or in the alternative order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election into the office of Governor of Imo State.