By Tony Edike
ENUGU – THE Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu, Saturday upheld the election of Governor Martins Elechi of Ebonyi State just as it nullified three House of Assembly seats won by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state and another in Anambra State.
The three-man panel of the appellate court, in a unanimous judgment, ruled that the appellant, Senator Julius Ucha, candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP in last year’s governorship election, failed to provide necessary evidence in support of the issues he set out for determination in his appeal against Elechi.
Chairman of the appeal panel, Justice A. M. Ogunwumiju, who delivered the ruling said Ucha could not provide details of issues which formed the grounds of his appeal, stressing that mere allegations that the lower tribunal erred in its decision in favour of the governor was not enough ground for the appeal court to invalidate the election.
“The appeal brought by the appellant was replete with general complaints against the lower tribunal but how the finding of the tribunal resulted to miscarriage of justice was not shown.
There is no doubt that the appellant did not prove his case against the decision of the tribunal and as such the appeal is unmeritorious and it is hereby dismissed. I make no order as to cost,” Justice Ogunwumiju ruled.
Two members of the panel, Justices A. A. B. Gumel and I. I. Agube who were selected from other divisions of the court and successfully handled a total of 22 appeals, endorsed the ruling saying the judgment of the lower tribunal delivered on November 11, 2011 affirming the election of Governor Elechi “is unassailable and it is hereby upheld.”
But as supporters of the governor from Ebonyi stormed the court celebrating the appeal court’s verdict, three members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly whose elections were earlier upheld by the lower tribunal, were not lucky, as the appeal court nullified their mandates.
The court said the appeals brought against the three lawmakers, Mr. Christian Osulor, Ezza South; Ikechukwu Ogbu, Ishielu North and Marbel Aleke, Ohaukwu South by their opponents from the ANPP were meritorious and consequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh polls in the affected constituencies within a period of 90 days.
The appeal panel, however, promised to provide details of their findings later.
In another ruling, the court nullified the election of Ebele Obi representing Idemili South constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly and ordered a fresh election to be conducted within 90 days.