Election Petitions Tribunal Validates Francis Nwifuru’s Win in Ebonyi State

Ebonyi State Election Tribunal Upholds Governor Nwifuru’s Victory

The Election Petitions Tribunal in Ebonyi State has issued a ruling reaffirming the election of Francis Nwifuru as the governor of the state.

Disputed Election Results

Francis Nwifuru was declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), securing a total of 199,131 votes.

He defeated Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who garnered 80,191 votes.

Legal Challenge by the PDP

In response to Nwifuru’s victory, Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii and the PDP contested the outcome and vowed to challenge it through legal means.

They approached the Election Petitions Tribunal, alleging non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and asserting that Nwifuru failed to secure the majority of lawful votes during the gubernatorial poll.

Furthermore, Odii and the PDP argued that Nwifuru was not qualified to contest the election under the APC banner, as he was still a member of the People’s Democratic Party at the time.

Governor’s Party Response

During the court proceedings, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the political party of Governor Nwifuru, presented evidence indicating that the governor had resigned from the PDP while serving as the speaker of the state House of Assembly.

He had subsequently defected to the APC before participating in its primary election.

Tribunal Verdict

The Tribunal, in its judgment delivered on Wednesday, September 27, stated that it lacked jurisdiction to address the issues related to the nomination and sponsorship by a political party.

These issues were deemed to be pre-election matters that should have been raised before the Federal High Court before the actual election.

Internal Party Matters

Additionally, the Tribunal clarified that it could not intervene in matters related to Nwifuru’s sponsorship by the APC, categorizing it as an internal political party concern.

It noted that it could not overturn a Federal High Court judgment that recognized Nwifuru’s defection to the APC while he was still a lawmaker, highlighting the failure of the PDP to appeal the trial court’s judgment.

Inconsistent Claims

The panel observed what it referred to as the “consistently inconsistent” stance of the petitioners.

Initially, they argued that Nwifuru was still a PDP member at the time, but later conceded that he had indeed defected to the APC.

Allegations of Electoral Malpractice

Regarding the PDP’s allegations of overvoting, mutilation, and inflation of results, the Tribunal found that the petitioners called 20 witnesses who failed to substantiate their claims that the polling unit results sheets were defective or improperly stamped.

Additionally, the petitioners did not produce the polling unit results given to their polling unit agents as evidence of electoral malpractice.

Dismissal of the Petition

Ultimately, the Tribunal concluded that the petitioners had failed to prove their case, and it dismissed the petition.

This ruling confirms Francis Nwifuru as the duly elected governor of Ebonyi State.

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