Labour Party Slams Enugu Tribunal Verdict

THE leadership of the Labour Party on Wednesday said it was disappointed with the verdict of the Enugu Election Petitions Tribunal which affirmed Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party as the governor of the state.

The reaction is coming three weeks after the tribunal upheld that Mbah won the contentious March 18 governorship election.

The three-member panel of the tribunal led by Justice Kudirat Murayo had dismissed the petitions of the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, insisting that they did not prove their petitions.

Edeoga challenged the return of Mbah as the duly elected governor of the state on grounds of submitting a forged National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate, over voting, among others.

But in dismissing the petitioners’ petition, the tribunal declared that the NYSC discharge certificate is not a qualification to contest a governorship election

Reacting to the judgment at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, National Publicity Secretary, LP, Obiora Ifoh, lamented that the tribunal judgment fell short of the expectations of Nigerians.

Ifoh lamented that Edeoga was already cruising to victory with the declaration of election results in 16 out of 17 Local Government Areas before the PDP allegedly colluded with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to manufacture over 30,000 votes for Mbah, even when it was obvious that about 15,000 voters were accredited to vote in the remaining local government.

He said, “The judgment fell short of the expectations of both the majority of Nigerians and legal pundits who have continued to criticise the fundamental logic and the premise upon which the decision was reached.

“It was essentially a case of over-voting in Nkanu East LGA, especially in Owo and Ugbawka, that prompted the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, to approach the Tribunal in the hope that the judiciary will review and correct that anomaly. To be clear, it is important that Nigerians understand that Enugu State is a Labour Party State and we make bold to say that our candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, clearly won the March 18 governorship election held in Enugu.

“This claim is justified by the outcome of all the other elections held in the state between February and March this year. The Labour Party won two of the three senatorial seats in the State; seven of the eight Rep seats in the State and 14 out of the 24 seats in the state House of Assembly.

“Notwithstanding this true position, the Enugu State Governorship Election Tribunal on September 21 shockingly delivered a judgment on the disputed election that appeared to have ignored the facts in issue.”

Continuing, Ifoh wondered why the tribunal judgment given in Nasarawa State, with a similar case, was different from the verdict reached in Enugu.

This was even as he warned that Mbah’s case would set a bad precedence for future election petitions judgment.

“Finally, on the issue of Mbah’s NYSC Discharge Certificate saga, the purported issuer of the forged certificate, through a subpoena issued by the Enugu Tribunal, appeared before it to testify that the NYSC Discharge Certificate Governor Peter Mbah submitted to INEC was not issued by them.

“Sadly, for some strange reasons, the tribunal thereafter discountenanced the evidence of the Director of Corps Certifications of the NYSC who came to testify at the Tribunal. That testimony, without much ado, fulfills the requirements of the law on proof of forgery and should have indeed proved the case of the petitioner but Justice Akano-led panel glibly dismissed the pivotal evidence of a key witness it invited to testify before it!

“If we allow the injustice perpetrated in Enugu by both the INEC and the Election Tribunal, sitting as the court of first instance, to stand, tomorrow the consequences for us all may be dire,” he noted.