The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital has upheld the declaration of the Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Delivering the judgement, a member of the three member panel, Justice Wasiu Animahun faulted the decision of the petitioners to rely on card reader accreditation.
He noted that the machine could not take the place of the voters’ register as it was only complimentary.
The panel held that if the number of over-voting claimed by the petitioners was removed from the figure with which Abaribe was declared winner, he would still maintain a reasonable margin of lead over the petitioners.
Dismissing the petition for lack of merit, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegation of irregularities.
It, however, awarded the cost of N500, 000 against the petitioners in favour of the second (Abaribe) and third PDP respondents.
But the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, candidate Chief Chris Nkwonta, has faulted the judgment of the election petition tribunal.
But In an interview, Nkwonta said the tribunal erred in law when it failed to consider that the fact that the INEC guideline on the use of smart card readers for accreditation of voters, was part of the electoral process.
He alleged that going by the total number of accredited voters by the card reader, the results announced by INEC is higher than what is recorded in the card readers.
The APGA chieftain lamented that the tribunal also ignored the various cases of over voting and numerous mutilations results entered in favour of his opponent and expressed hope that the Court of Appeal would rectify the matter.
“The tribunal erred in its judgment. It ignored the major flank of the petition which was the issue of use of smart card readers to accredit voters. The use of smart card readers as an INEC guideline to accredit voters is part of the electoral process meant to ensure the integrity of the system. The tribunal also ignored the serial mutilation of results across polling units in the zone, especially in Obingwa where my opponent comes from. The question is, if my opponent is popular, why did he have to resort to rigging in his local government?
“Our judicial system must check the issue of desperation among political office seekers. The issue is that during election, a candidate will manipulate the system to be declared winner because he knows that his action will be rendered a fait accompli by the tribunal. This is unfair. There is no doubt that the Court of Appeal will not ignore such facts.”
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