The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the suit filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general election in Enugu State, Chief Uche Nnaji, challenging the victory of Governor Peter Mbah of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
The decision of the three-man panel of the appellate court was delivered by Justice J.O.K. Oyewole on Tuesday.
Nnaji whose petition was initially dismissed by Justice K.M. Akano-led Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on June 20, 2023, approached the appellate court to seek redress.
It is recalled that he had contended that Mbah was not constitutionally qualified to vie for the office of the governor at the time of the election, having allegedly presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Among others, the APC candidate, who polled a total of 14,575 against Dr. Peter Mbah’s 160,895 votes, to place a distant fourth in the election, equally averred that Governor Mbah was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
Also joined as respondents were the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, and that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Frank Nweke Jr., whom, according to the appellant, were not qualified to contest the election, having allegedly run afoul of the asset declaration law.
He had, therefore, asked the tribunal to disqualify Mbah, Edeoga, and Nweke and either declare him the winner or order INEC to conduct a runoff election between him and other remaining candidates.
Delivering judgment on the petition marked EPT/EN/GOV/05/23, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Akano, said the lawsuit was not filed in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and could not be heard pursuant to paragraph 18(3) (4) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Consequently, Nnaji had approached the Court of Appeal, praying it to send the dismissed petition back to the Tribunal for hearing and determination of the suit.
But at the resumed hearing of the appeal marked CA/E/E/EP/GOV/EN/01/2023 on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Tribunal and dismissed the suit accordingly.
The appellate court equally awarded the sum of N250,000 each against Nnaji and the APC