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Tue, 23 Sep 2014

Supreme Court Upholds Obiano’s Election as Anambra Governor Obi, Umeh hail verdict

071213F.Willie-Obiano.jpg - 071213F.Willie-Obiano.jpgThe Supreme Court yesterday upheld the election of Anambra State Governor, Willy Obiano, just as it dismissed the appeals brought by the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their candidates Chris Ngige and Tony Nwoye respectively.

In a unanimous judgment, the court held that the appellants woefully failed to prove their allegations that the election was not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act.
Justice Bayang.K. Akaahs who read the lead judgment, held that the appellants failed to substantiate their claims and that in the circumstance, the apex court had no reason to disturb the concurrent judgments of both the Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
He said: “The petitioners called 25 witnesses when there was over 4,000 polling units in the state, and over one million voters, the Justice Mohammed Uwais reform committee had recommended that the burden of proving that elections were conducted in substantial compliance with the law rests with INEC, but since the law has not been passed into law the onus of proof still rests with the petitioner, the allegation that there were mistakes in the voters register could not be seen as act of non substantial compliance with the provisions of the electoral act.”
He further held that the action of INEC in correcting the mistakes in the voters register was not enough to call for the cancellation of the elections.
“On the allegations of double registration against Obiano, there is no evidence to show that the governor registered twice,”  he held.
The court also concluded that where the allegation of disenfranchisement of voters could not be established the results of the election would be determined by the number of votes.
Justice Akaahs further held that “almost all the issues raised in this appeal are issues of facts which the tribunal made pronouncements on and which were endorsed by the court of appeal, the Supreme Court will not interfere in the two concurrent findings of the two lower courts as the appellants have not been able to provide evidence that the decisions were biased.
“The appeal therefore lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed.”
The court consequently affirmed INEC’s declaration of Willy Maduabuchi Obiano as the duly elected governor of Anambra State.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola in his concurrent judgment on the appeal brought by Nwoye said that “the appellant’s allegation of non compliance with the Electoral Act failed woefully.
“He has not shown why this court will interfere with the concurrent findings of the court below, the appeal is therefore dismissed.”
Justice John Iyang Okoro in his decision on the PDP appeal said: “On the first issue which the appellant raised that Obiano was not qualified to have stood elections, he was alleged to have violated Section 81(5) of the Electoral Act, the allegation is founded on Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, the appellant was unable to convince the court that Obiano was convicted of any offence to warrant his disqualification.
“Such allegations cannot be ventilated at the elections petitions tribunal, the Federal High Court, State High Court are venues for the ventilation of such claims, as the electoral tribunals lack the powers to disqualify a candidate for multiple registration in an election that has been concluded, this is common sense.
“In view of the fact that the allegations against Obiano are criminal in nature they ought to have been proved beyond all reasonable grounds.
“They also failed to prove that the election was not conducted substantially in compliance with the Alectoral Act, we have come to an irresistible conclusions that appellant has failed to prove his case beyond reasonable ground, I accordingly dismiss the appeal.”
Reacting to the decision of the Supreme Court, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chief Victor Umeh, said the court had once again re enforced the confidence that Nigerians have in the nation’s judiciary.
He said: “We are happy that the Supreme Court has affirmed the election of Obiano as the Governor of Anmabra State.
“What this means is that an APGA Governor will be in office until 2018, for another four years.
“It is a lot of life line for the party. The decision will motivate the party to go into the 2015 general election more determined, re invigorated and focused to win more seats, more National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly seats in 2015.
“So we are going into the elections with one state in our kitty. Nobody knows what will happen next year.
“The judgment has clearly shown that our judiciary is working, it is real confirmation that the judiciary is working and alive to its responsibilities.”
On his part, the former Governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, commended the justices of the Supreme Court for reaffirming the will of the people of the state.
He urged all those who lost the election and had  exhausted the legal option to now join hands together  with Obiano in serving the people of the state and in support for the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Ebele  Jonathan.

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Disclaimer: Content is the Opinion of the Author and is not in anyway representative of the Opinions of the Nigerian Election Coalition, WANGONeT, or the MacArthur Foundation except otherwise stated.


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