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Appeal Court sacks Abia Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, declares APGA’s Alex Otti winner

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Owerri, Imo State, has nullified the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia.

The court also declared Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance winner of the election.

The court faulted the judgment of the Abia Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the election of Mr. Ikpeazu.

It also faulted INEC for declaring the PDP candidate winner of the election in the first place.

Mr. Otti had proceeded to the Court of Appeal after the Abia tribunal gave its judgment on November 3, saying the PDP validly won the election.

In that 85-minute judgment, delivered by its Chairman, Usman Bwala, the tribunal said  the petitioners – Mr. Otti and APGA – failed to prove their claim to have won the election ‘’beyond doubt”.

Mr. Bwala said the petitioners had, on one hand urged the court to nullify the election on grounds that it was marred by irregularities and massive fraud and on the other hand, sought that they should be declared winners of the same election.

He said the petitioners reckoned with the card reader as a means of accreditation during the election of April 11 but failed to agree with use of voter’s register.

The tribunal further refused to grant the petitioners’ request to uphold the cancellation of the results of the election in Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala-Ngwa North Local Government Areas of the state.

Mr. Bwala said the State Returning Officer, Benjamin Ozumba, was not allowed under the law, to cancel the said results in the first place, hence the subsequent reversal by him had no effect.

He said the onus lay heavily on the petitioners to prove beyond doubt that they won the election as they claimed in their petition.

The tribunal chairman, therefore, dismissed the petition because of the failure of the petitioners to convince the tribunal beyond doubt that they won the election.

Mr. Otti had urged the tribunal to annul the declaration of Mr. Ikpeazu as governor, saying the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

He, however, urged the tribunal to declare him (Otti) the winner on account of the lawful votes cast during the election.

He also asked the tribunal to uphold Mr. Ozumba’s cancellation of the results for Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala-Ngwa North LGAs.

He said that Ozumba, having cancelled the results, did not have the power to cancel the result and reverse himself, adding that only the tribunal had the power to reverse the cancellation.

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