The Imo State Election Petitions Tribunal has declared the venue of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives primaries as valid and a pre-election issue, thereby affirming the election of Hon. Ugonna Ozuruigbo as the duly elected representative for Nwangele/Nkwerre/ Isu/Njaba federal constituency.
In a ruling on the suit marked ‘EPT/IM/HR/63/2023’ between Nwadike Harrison Anozie & Anor V. Ozurigbo Ugonna & 4 Ors, all preliminary objections raised by 1st & 2nd Respondents were dismissed for lacking in merit.
On ground 1 of the petition touching on venue of primaries conducted, the Tribunal held that the Petitioners have no locus standi to challenge the primaries of the 1st and 2nd Respondents and that court has no jurisdiction over the matter as it falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, and was subsequently struck out.
On ground 2 of the Petition touching on over-voting, the Petitioners did not bring witnesses to support their claims, it was also struck out.
On ground 3 of the Petition touching on non-compliance, the Petitioners failed to prove by any iota of evidence of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, it was equally dismissed as in totality the Petition was lacking in merit and same was dismissed.
This ruling by the tribunal was in tandem with the precedence already set by higher courts on pre-election matters, which the Justice Anthony Akpovi-led panel ignored in it rulings on similar matters.
Recall that the Akpovi panel in deference to existing judicial precedents such as the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) which ruled on Vice President Kashim Shettima’s case, that the issue of nominating or not nominating a candidate validly by a political party is a pre-election matter and an internal affair of the party, erroneously upturned the landslide victory of the member representing Ideato North/South Federal Constituency of Imo State, Hon. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere Ikeagwuonu.
With the Tribunal’s ruling on Ozuruigbo and other similar rulings by higher courts, one cannot but believe that the Appeal Panel for Imo State elections with other eminent Justices like Affen and Asmau’u Musa Mainoma would do nothing less than upholding the victory of Ugochinyere.
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