The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has faulted the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division which declared Alex Otti, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the winner of the state governorship election.
The commission has therefore asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the appellate court and uphold the judgment of the Abia State Governorship Election Tribunal which upheld INEC’s declaration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the poll.
INEC, through its lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) who led a team of other senior lawyers including, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), H.M. Liman (SAN), Ahmed Raji (SAN) among others, maintained that Governor Ikpeazu won the election and not Otti.
The commission told the Supreme Court that another panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the elections in respect of the House of Assembly seats in Osisioma Local Government Area and Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area which took place on the same day with the governorship election.
Awomolo said: “Before concluding, we crave the indulgence of the court to respectfully consider an intriguing issue. Which is the fact that the court below, though differently constituted, confirmed on appeal elections in respect of House of Assembly seats in Osisioma LGA and Isiala North LGA which took place simultaneously with the Abia governorship same day, time, in the same polling units and where voters were accredited using the same voters, registers and card readers.”
INEC further said that the Court of Appeal was wrong in law when it cancelled the results of elections in three local government areas of the state.
It said: “The conclusion that Otti and not Ikpeazu won majority of the valid votes cast at the election is neither borne out of the record nor justified under the law.”
According to the commission, the Court of Appeal should have dismissed Otti’s case, having found that a Returning Officer had no power to cancel election results with regard to the provisions of Section 68 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The commission also said that Otti’s notice of appeal at the appellate court was incompetent and should have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.