Imo State, Nigeria – In a landmark decision, the Imo State National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal has declared the election of Ikenga Ugochinyere, a member of the House of Representatives representing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), null and void. Additionally, the tribunal has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days.
This unanimous ruling was issued on Sunday by a three-member panel of Tribunal 3, which conducted its proceedings in Mararaba, Nasarawa State. The tribunal determined that the PDP had not validly nominated Mr. Ugochinyere to contest the Ideato North/South Federal Constituency election that took place on February 25.
Tribunal sacks Imo PDP federal lawmaker, Orders Supplementary Poll.
Justice Anthony Akpovi, the chairman of the tribunal, delivered the lead judgment and specified that the supplementary election should occur in the 55 polling units where elections were not held. Importantly, the PDP and its candidate have been disqualified from participating in the supplementary election.
The origins of this case lie in a petition submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Abazu Benson, who was a contestant in the election. INEC initially declared Mr. Ugochinyere, the PDP candidate, as the victor with 13,026 votes. In contrast, Mr. Benson, the APC’s candidate, secured the third position with 2,368 votes.
Mr. Benson’s petition contended that Mr. Ugochinyere was ineligible to participate in the election, citing the PDP’s breach of the Electoral Act by conducting its primary election outside the constituency.
The tribunal, relying on section 84 (5) (c) of the Electoral Act 2022, held that the PDP’s primary election was invalid as it took place at a location outside the Ideato North/South Federal Constituency. Consequently, the tribunal determined that a valid candidate could not have emerged from an invalid primary election.
Acknowledging the security concerns surrounding unknown gunmen, INEC stated that it could not conduct the election in 55 polling units within the constituency. As a result, the tribunal directed INEC to organize supplementary polls in the remaining polling units, with all parties participating except the PDP.
The decision of the Imo State National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal could have substantial implications for the state’s political landscape. It remains to be seen how this ruling will impact future electoral contests and the representation of the Ideato North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
That is all for now on Tribunal sacks Imo PDP federal lawmaker.