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N’Assembly polls: Tribunals to decide 400 cases, end sittings




Though a senior Independent National Electoral Commission official said 552 election petitions were filed by the aggrieved candidates who participated in the National Assembly elections, The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that over 150 of the cases had been decided. It was learnt that some of the cases were withdrawn by the petitioners.

However, about 400 cases are expected to be decides this week as tribunals across the country end their sittings on Saturday 16, 2023.

Some of the leading federal lawmakers whose fate will be decided this week are seven House of Representatives members from Delta State.

In the past weeks, the panels had overturned the victories of no fewer than four senators and seven members of the House of Representatives in the polls held on February 25, 2023.

Among the recently ousted Senators were Emmanuel Udende (APC, Benue North East), Isah Jibrin (APC, Kogi East), Abubakar Ohere (APC, Kogi Central), and Thomas Joel-Onowakpo (Delta South).

In Delta, Senator Joel-Onowakpo faced a re-run election in the Delta South Senatorial District on the orders of the tribunal.

The tribunal, led by Justice Catherine Ogunsola, declared the initial election inconclusive and mandated the INEC to conduct a supplementary election in the Warri South council area within 90 days.

Joel-Onowakpo expressed his disappointment with the tribunal’s ruling, but had yet to decide on whether to appeal, leaving the decision to the voters.

In Benue, the tribunal in Makurdi nullified the election of Emmanuel Udende, the Senator representing the Benue North East Senatorial District and declared Gabriel Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party as the rightful winner based on evidence of over-voting during the election.

Similarly, Senator Jibrin Isah of Kogi East was ousted by a tribunal judgment, which ordered a supplementary election in 94 polling units due to discrepancies in voter card distribution.

In Kogi Central, Abubakar Ohere was unseated by the court which affirmed Natasha Akpoti-Uduagan of the opposition PDP as the winner of the senatorial polls.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Fred Agbedi, the PDP candidate for Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency, was also removed by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Bayelsa State.

A fresh election was ordered in specific polling units to rectify the exclusion of 26,000 registered voters.

Ngozi Okolie, a member representing Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency on the platform of the Labour Party, was recently removed from office for failing to meet the nomination requirements following a petition filed by Ndudi Elumelu.

In Abia State, Amobi Ogah of the Labour Party had his election nullified, with Nkeiruka Onyejeocha of the APC declared as the rightful winner of the National Assembly election.

In Enugu, the election tribunal invalidated the election of the LP candidate, Prof Sunday Nnamchi, as a member of the House of Representatives for Enugu East/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency.

In Lagos State, Seyi Sowunmi of the LP lost his seat as the House of Representatives member for Ojo Federal Constituency. The tribunal declared Lanre Ogunyemi of the APC as the duly elected candidate.

The decision was based on the grounds that Sowunmi was not duly sponsored and qualified to contest the election.

Also in Kano, the tribunal nullified the election of Muktar Umar Yerima of the New Nigeria People’s Party as the House of Representatives member for the Tarauni Federal Constituency on the grounds of submitting a forged primary school certificate to INEC.

The tribunal deemed Yerima’s candidacy illegitimate, rendering all votes cast for him as “wasted votes.”

In Calabar, Cross River State, the tribunal affirmed the election of the Senator representing Cross River North in the National Assembly, Jarigbe Jarigbe (PDP).

Former governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, had in suit number EPT/CR/SEN/02/2023 approached the court to nullify the senatorial election for being riddled with malpractices and not complying with the Electoral Act.

The former governor also disputed about 377 polling units in the northern senatorial election.

The tribunal, headed by Justice M. Sambo, after a five-hour judgment, dismissed the petition, stating that there was no sufficient evidence to invalidate the election.

It was cheery news for Senator Solomon Adeola, fondly called Yayi, who was affirmed as the duly elected lawmaker for Ogun West Senatorial District.

The tribunal led by Justice Kabir Gabo sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, last Thursday, dismissed the petition marked EPT/OG/Sen/2023 filed by the PDP senatorial candidate, Dada Adeleke for “lacking in merit.”

Similarly, moves by the LP in Lagos to unseat Senator Wasiu Eshinlokun of the APC suffered a setback as the tribunal declared him as the rightful Senator for the Lagos Central Senatorial District.

Led by Justice Ashua Ewah, the three-member tribunal dismissed the petition brought forward by the LP candidate, Abiodun Dabiri.

The tribunal ruled that the petition was invalid as the raised concerns fell under pre-election matters.