The Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, situated in Abuja, has upheld the election victory of Governor Francis Nwifuru, representing the All Progressives Congress (APC). The tribunal’s decision, delivered on Wednesday, marks a significant development in the legal battle surrounding the election outcome.
The tribunal dismissed petitions brought forth by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its gubernatorial candidate, Ifeanyi Odii, as well as the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and its gubernatorial candidate, Bernard Odoh. The core contention in these petitions revolved around Governor Nwifuru’s qualification to contest on the APC platform.
The PDP and Odii argued that Governor Nwifuru was not eligible to run as an APC candidate as he was still a member of the PDP during the election. In contrast, the APC asserted that the governor had resigned from the PDP while serving as Speaker of the state House of Assembly and subsequently defected to the APC before its primary election.
The three-member tribunal panel, led by Justice Lekan Ogunmoye, delivered its verdict on Wednesday. They held that the petitioners failed to provide evidence of non-compliance with the Electoral Act during the election. Furthermore, the tribunal ruled that the petitioners did not substantiate their claim that Governor Nwifuru did not secure the majority of lawful votes in the election.
Regarding the APGA petition, the tribunal ruled that the petitioners did not approach the appropriate court to address the issue of party membership.
In response to the tribunal’s decision, the PDP expressed its intent to appeal the judgment. The party called upon its supporters in the state to remain calm and peaceful, assuring them that the PDP would seek to reclaim its mandates through the appellate court.
The ruling represents a significant development in Ebonyi State’s political landscape and the legal challenges surrounding the governorship election.