In a significant development, the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal has rendered a verdict dismissing the legal action initiated by Chief Uche Nnaji, the governorship candidate representing the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 Enugu state general election. Nnaji’s suit sought to challenge the triumph of Dr. Peter Mbah, the candidate fielded by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In a momentous development, the highly anticipated decision rendered by the distinguished three-member panel of the appellate court was eloquently articulated by none other than Justice J.O.K Oyewole on the fateful day of Tuesday.
Nnaji, a petitioner whose initial plea was dismissed by the Justice K.M Akano-led Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on June 20, 2023, has resorted to the appellate court in pursuit of legal remedy.
The individual in question has raised a significant claim regarding Mbah’s eligibility to run for the governorship, asserting that he lacked the necessary constitutional qualifications due to an alleged submission of a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the election period.
In addition to other contenders, the candidate representing the All Progressives Congress (APC) garnered a total of 14,575 votes, placing a considerable fourth in the election. This pales in comparison to the impressive 160,895 votes secured by Dr. Peter Mbah. The APC candidate further asserts that Governor Mbah’s election lacks legitimacy due to a purported lack of majority support from the lawfully cast votes in the election.
The panel of respondents included the esteemed candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, as well as the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Frank Nweke Jr. However, the appellant argues that these individuals may not meet the qualifications to participate in the election, as they are alleged to have violated the asset declaration law.
In a strategic move, the individual in question has formally petitioned the Tribunal, urging them to disqualify Mbah, Edeoga, and Nweke from the electoral race. In light of this, the petitioner has put forth two potential courses of action: firstly, to be declared the victor outright, or alternatively, to have the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) organize a runoff election involving the remaining candidates.
In a notable development, the esteemed Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice M.K Akano, has rendered a verdict on the petition bearing the distinctive identifier EPT/EN/GOV/05/23. With meticulous scrutiny, it has been determined that the aforementioned lawsuit has regrettably failed to adhere to the stipulations outlined in the Electoral Act. Consequently, it is deemed unfit for consideration in light of the provisions enshrined in paragraph 18(3) (4) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act of 2022.
In a strategic move, Nnaji has taken the initiative to approach the Court of Appeal, seeking to have the dismissed petition returned to the Tribunal for a thorough examination and ultimate resolution of the case.
In the ongoing proceedings of the appeal with the distinctive identifier CA/E/E/EP/GOV/EN/01/2023, the Court of Appeal, in its recent session, reaffirmed the ruling of the Tribunal and subsequently rejected the lawsuit.
In a significant legal development, the appellate court has rendered a verdict that carries profound implications for both Nnaji and the APC. Notably, the court has levied an identical financial penalty of N250,000 against both parties involved. This decision underscores the court’s commitment to impartiality and fairness in its adjudication of this matter.