Breaking: Court Trashes Former Speaker, Chinedum Orji Suit, Reaffirms LP’s Aguocha Victory
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in, Umuahia, Abia State’s capital, has reaffirmed the victory of Rt. Hon. Obinna Aguocha, as the authentic elected member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency.
The Court dismissed the case as filed by the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji of PDP, against the winner of the 2023 Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency, the Ogwumabiri 1 of Umuahia.
It would be recalled that the former Speaker, (aka. Ikuku) candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), had earlier, filed a suit challenging the resounding victory of the Labour Party candidate in the just concluded general elections.
Delivering his judgement, Hon. Justice Abubakar Kutigi, the chairman of the panel, who stated blanky that “all the petitioner’s grounds cannot stand”, announced that Aguocha remained the rightful elected member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency.
Addressing Journalists, Counsel to the Labour Party candidate, Barr. Friday Nwokocha posited that the Counsel to the Petitioner had urged the tribunal to remove the LP candidate on the grounds that the LP allegedly failed to submit the party’s membership register to the Independent INEC, 30 days before election.
“They said that Labour Party did not submit their register 30 days prior to the primary elections. The Court ruled that that should be an internal affair and should be a preelection matter and not post election.
On the alleged over voting as submitted by the PDP party, the Counsel said:
“I think from the evidences gathered, there was nothing like over voting. So, in the end, the Court ruled in favour of Obi Aguocha as the authentic elected member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency of Abia State.
Advising the petitioner, he said:
“For me, I think, he did the right thing; I think he still has chances if he feels he’s aggrieved with what actually transpired.”
However, he advised Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji to sheath his sword and embrace spirit of sportsmanship, noting, “let him just support his brother because we are one and I presume that the future holds the best for us. If in the future he comes out for a thing like this, we shall be willing to support him. He’s our man and we love him but for now, let him just support his brother so that he will be able to discharge his duties.
Earlier, the Counsel to the petitioner, Barr. Obinna Nkume, while fielding questions from journalists, reiterated that his party would await the record of the judgement, which he said would be made available to them tomorrow, Friday, September 8, to enable them decide their next step after review.
“We’ll review the judgement and know line of action we will take. According to him, the court ruled that the Constitution did not stop the candidate of Labour party from contesting.
“We’ll get the record of the judgement he promised as tomorrow, review it and then know the next line of action”, he said.
Also, the Campaign Director-General of Obi Aguocha campaign organisation, Hon. Leonard Ogbonna, expressed great joy over the outcome of the judgement, describing it as “comprehensive, saying, “I feel so happy about the victory of my Principal”.
Asked his party’s fate on the suspected plans of the petitioner going to Appeal, he said:
“The judgement is very comprehensive. So, for me, I don’t know what he’s taking to appeal. Although it is his right to appeal but I don’t know what he is taking there. According to the language of the judge, his allegations cannot fly.”
Earlier, it would be recalled that the LP candidate was declared winner of the contest by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, but dissatisfied with the declaration, however, the former Speaker and his party headed for the tribunal to seek Aguocha’s removal.
Consequently, PDP candidate, through his Lead Counsel, Obinna Nkume, urged the tribunal to remove the LP candidate on the grounds that the LP allegedly failed to submit the party’s membership register to the Independent INEC, 30 days before the poll as required by the Electoral Act.
According to him, “the results my client got through his party agents were the same with the results presented by the INEC from the agency’s IREV”.