The Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal sitting in Owerri, Imo State, has nullified the election of Governor Okozie Ikpeazu of Abia State and declared Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the winner of the April 11 and April 25 supplementary elections.
The five-member panel, headed by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, annulled the election on the grounds of substantial non-compliance with the electoral law.
Delivering judgment on an appeal filed by Otti, the court said that the APGA candidate scored 164, 444 valid votes to defeat Ikpeazu who scored 114, 444 votes, and, therefore, declared that Otti was the winner of the April 11 and April 25 supplementary elections in Abia State.
According to Omoleye, the cancellation of the elections held in three LGAs of Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Isiala Ngwa by the returning officers after the results were uploaded to INEC was wrong.
“In the Electoral Act, the Returning Officer has the right to only declare results of elections and not to cancel elections.
“This panel discovered that the earlier results uploaded to INEC headquarters correspond with the correct valid registered voters in the three LGAs, while that awarded to the respondent, shows over voting and therefore null and void.”
The appellate court maintained that the lower tribunal erred by not handling all the issues raised.
“It was wrong for the court to insist that because the appellant failed to appear in person, his matter will not be given due attention.
“For not appearing in person, the first appellant did not abandon his case,” she said.
After nullifying the election, the court insisted that there was no need to call for re-run because the results of the April 11 and 25 polls clearly present Otti as the genuine winner of the exercise.
The court therefore, directed INEC to issue Certificate of Return to Otti and swear him in as winner of the election.