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Abia: Tribunal upholds Erondu’s victory, dismisses Onwubiko’s petition

The election petition tribunal, sitting in Umuahia Abia State, has dismissed the petition brought before it by the candidate of the Labour Party, Mrs Victoria Onwubiko, challenging the election of member representing Obingwa West State constituency, Hon Erondu Uchenna Erondu Jnr, saying that the suit lacked in merit.

In a unanimous judgement delivered on Thursday y Hon. Justice Abubakar Kutigi-led three-man panel, the tribunal held that the petitioner, Mrs. Victoria Dibunma Onwubiko, failed to prove that the election that produced the the Obingwa West Constituency representative was marred with substantial ‘Non Compliance’ with Electoral Acts during the March 18, 2023 elections as she alleged.

The tribunal also held that the petitioner, Mrs Onwubiko, who contested the election results in 82 Polling Units (PUs), brought only eight witnesses and presented evidence for only three polling units.

The tribunal chairman further described the evidence as abysmal with no credible emperical data, adding that none of the witnesses the petitioner brought could defend the documents brought before the tribunal.

The tribunal further disclosed in its ruling that some of the Witnesses (PW5, PW6, PW7 and PW8) who earlier alleged in their disposition that there were over-voting, inflation of votes, mutilations, and alterations, among others, reversed themselves during cross-examination and affirmed that election was credible.

The tribunal also faulted the alternative claim of disenfranchisement sought by the petitioner, pointing out that the petitioner also failed to provide disenfranchised voters to testify in court.

On the margin of lead principle, the tribunal held that no witness of the petitioner testified to the effect that any voter was disenfranchised.

“The petitioner, through the bar, dumped the documents on the court and did nothing to prove their claims.

“Court has no business determining issues based on speculations but based on evidence tendered and demonstrated in the open court”, the judge ruler.

The tribunal held that the LP candidate failed to establish the burden of proof of ‘substantial non-compliance’ with the Electoral Acts and therefore, dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.

Reacting to the ruling, the counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Emeka Eze, who thanked the tribunal for ensuring that justice prevailed on the matter, said it was victory for the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Abia State House of Assembly Committee on Public Service and the member representing Obingwa-West State constituency in ABHA, Hon. Erondu Uchenna Erondu Jnr, hailed the tribunal for the judgment, noting that it was a victory for democracy and the people of Obingwa-West State constituency, whose mandate he regards as sacred.

He thanked the tribunal for the ruling, saying it was fair, firm and resolute in judgement, as well as upholding the provisions of the law.

Erondu further thanked his constituents for keeping faith with him while the case lasted in the court.