The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division which declared Alex Otti, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) winner of the state governorship elections.
The commission has therefore asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and its place to uphold the judgment of the Abia Governorship Election Tribunal which upheld INEC’s declaration of Dr Okezie Ipeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party as winner of the election.
In a brief or argument settled by INEC’s lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN who led a team of other senior lawyers including, Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, A.B. Mahmoud, SAN, H.M. Liman, SAN, Ahmed Raji, SAN among others, the commission said that it was Ikpeazu who won the election and not Otti.
INEC informed the Supreme Court that another panel of the Court of Appeal upheld elections in respect of House of Assembly seats in Osisioma Local Government Area and Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area which took place on the same day the governorship election was conduct.
It will be recalled that in declaring Otti winner of the election, the Court nullified the governorship election in the local government areas stated above.
INEC said: “Before concluding, we crave the indulgence of the court to very respectfully refer to an intriguing issue.
“It is the fact that the court below, though differently constituted confirmed on appeal elections in respect of House of Assembly seats in Osisioma LGA and Isiala North LGA which took place simultaneously with the Abia Governorship same day, time, in the same polling units and where voters were accredited using the same voters; registers and card readers.”
INEC further said that the Court of Appeal was wrong in law when it cancelled the results of elections in three local government areas of Abia State.
It said “The conclusion that Otti and not Ikpeazu won majority of the valid votes cast at the election is neither borne out of the record nor justified under the law.”
According to the commission, the court of appeal should have dismissed Otti’s appeal having found that a Returning Officer has no power to cancel election results having regard to the provisions of Section 68 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The commission also said that Otti’s notice of appeal at court of appeal was incompetent and should have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.