The Appeal Court, Lagos, on Saturday reaffirmed the victory of Dr. Alex Otti, as the duly elected Governor of Abia State.
The court dismissed the appeal filed by both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their candidates Okey Ahiwe and Ikechi Emenike, respectively, challenging the victory of Governor Otti at the March 18, 2023 governorship election in Abia.
The Appeal Court spared no sympathy for the two opposition parties in Abia, describing the PDP’s case as “Woeful” and that of the APC as a “Comedy skit”.
Below are Highlights of the two judgements.
*Highlights of Judgement in the PDP Appeal
Court finds that the judgement of the Federal High Court, Kano, and the reasons for discountenancing it does not form part of the ratio decidendi of the case. All arguments in respect of it, are deemed otiose and suffers the fate of striking out. Issue one fails.
The filing of a separate written address by the 3rd Respondent does not form part of the Central grievance of the Appellants in the appeal. The determination of Issue 2 one way or the other, would not affect the core of the decision of the Tribunal. Issue 2 and all the arguments canvassed thereon are struck out. Issue 2 fails.
Issue 3 of the Appellants and the arguments thereon are struck out for being incompetent.
Where the challenge is membership, it is a post election matter within the context of Section 177© of the 1999 Constitution. But where it borders on compliance with mode of emergence of a candidate in line with the Electoral Act, it becomes a pre-election matter.
Court finds that Alex Otti defected to LP and won its primary election consequent upon which his name was submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act is purely for regulatory purposes and there’s no sanction for non-compliance. There’s no bar to new members who joined a political party to participate in their primaries after their register had been submitted provided that they’re granted waiver.
Membership of a political party is non justiceable and strictly within the province of a political party.
Section 77(2) & (3) of Electoral Act cannot be used to expand the qualifying and disqualifying ingredients under the Constitution.
Tribunal was right in striking out the paragraphs of the Petition that sounded in pre-election complaints.
On the merit of the contents of the offensive paragraphs which the Tribunal also considered for completeness, it was found upon the evidence and pleadings that Alex Otti participated in LP primaries and his name duly submitted to INEC as per Form EC9. Finds that he was duly qualified to contest the office.
The case of the Appellants on this point, was/is woeful.
Appellants lack the locus standi to pry into matters pertaining to how the 3rd Respondent emerged as candidate of the LP since they did not contest in the primaries nor are they members of the 2nd Respondent. Issue 4 fails.
Issues 5 & 6 considered together on whether the Appellants proved their case bordering on non-compliance.
Evidence of Appellants’ 4th, 16th, 17th and 21st witnesses expunged from the record for being incompetent.
Appellants dumped their documentary evidence on the Tribunal.
Section 137 of the EA did not help the case of the Appellants.
P138 is the authentic result of Obingwa LGA and remains unchallenged.
Appellants failed to prove the portion of their case bordering on corrupt practices for not calling eye witnesses who witnessed the alleged corrupt practices.
*APC Appeal: Judgement Highlights
Court finds that the issues around qualification are pre-election matters and mirrors the reasons for dismissing same in the PDP appeal.
All the issues in the substantive appeal are dismissed.
Court describes the appeal as a huge joke in what qualifies as a “Notable Pronouncement” having regard to the meagre votes the Appellants polled and their attempt to outstage other candidates who scored substantially higher votes.
Court finds that same can only happen in a comedy skit. Court quotes Abraham Lincoln and traces the concept of Democracy from its place of birth, Greece, as the will of the majority and finds that majority of the electorates clearly voted Alex Otti and rejected the Appellants.
Appeal fails and is dismissed with cost of one million Naira awarded against the Appellants and in favour of the Respondents.
Picture: Governor Alex Otti