UMUAHIA, Nigeria – The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, has nullified the election of two members of the Labour Party, LP, and declared candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, as winners.
APC Takes Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency
In a first-of-its-kind decision, the tribunal has declared Dan Okeke of the APC as the winner of the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in the National Assembly election held on February 25, 2023.
The election had initially seen Ibe Okwara of the Labour Party emerge as the winner, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
However, an unsatisfied Okeke had approached the tribunal, alleging that Ibe’s election was not in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
A three-member panel led by Justice Adeyinka Aderegbegbe agreed with Okeke’s arguments and ruled in his favor.
The tribunal ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return previously issued to Ibe and issue a fresh one to Okeke.
APGA Claims Victory in Abia North/South
Similarly, the tribunal declared Alex Ikwechegh of the APGA as the winner of the Abia North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, replacing the Labour Party’s Emeka Nnamani.
The decision adds another layer of complexity to Abia’s already charged political landscape.
The rulings are a significant blow to the Labour Party, which had considered these constituencies strongholds.
It also marks a turning point for the APC and APGA, signaling potential shifts in the balance of political power in the state and perhaps even at the national level.
Political analysts are already speculating that these rulings could have wider implications for future elections, including potential challenges to the Electoral Act and INEC’s role in certifying election winners.
Given the current political climate, more attention than ever will be focused on the appeal process, if the Labour Party decides to pursue one.
For now, residents of the affected constituencies are coming to terms with the new reality, even as both declared winners, Okeke and Ikwechegh, have promised to prioritize the welfare and development of their respective areas.
The tribunal’s decision sends a strong message that electoral malpractices will not be tolerated, and is likely to set a precedent for future electoral petitions.