The youths of the Arochukwu/Ohafia federal constituency in Abia state have revolted following the removal of the representative in the House of Representatives, Okwara Osonwa, by the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Umuahia.
The Ohafia Youth Initiative Movement voiced their strong opposition to the tribunal’s ruling, asserting that it undermines democracy and the collective will of the constituency’s young voters who overwhelmingly supported the Labour Party candidate.
The tribunal’s decision hinged on its belief that Osonwa was not duly nominated by the Labour Party to participate in the February 25 national assembly election, resulting in the nullification of his electoral victory.
Daniel Okeke of the All Progressives Congress had initiated the petition to challenge Osonwa’s win.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that in a prompt response to the tribunal’s verdict, OYM issued a stern statement through its Director General, Comrade Ukpai Kalu, cautioning that the Ohafia community would employ all lawful means available to safeguard Osonwa’s mandate.
The group argued that the tribunal’s judgment did not align with the Nigerian Constitution and the desires of the constituency’s people who had “freely given their mandate to Hon. Ibe Okwara Osonwa.”
They said, “We have reviewed the judgment of the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sacking our son, Hon. Ibe Okwara Osonwa, as the member representing Arochukwu Ohafia Federal Constituency.
“We can only agree with Hon. Ibe Okwara Osonwa that the said judgment is not only perverse in all its ramifications, but also an affront to the established principles of democracy and the wishes and rights of the good people of the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in choosing their representative at the National Assembly.
“We reject the judgment of the tribunal in its entirety. Ohafia is not a weak clan, and we shall not allow anyone to humiliate our son through the courts. Our people freely gave their mandate to Hon Ibe Okwara Osonwa. Therefore, we reject the judgment and Daniel Okeke. We call on all advocates of peace, justice, fairness, and equity to step in now and restore the mandate freely given to our son during the National Assembly elections.
“The tribunal cannot base its judgment on Sections 77(2) and (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, an issue that the Appellate Courts have repeatedly stated falls outside the purview of the Election Tribunal but remains within the realm of pre-election matters.
“The candidacy of Hon. Ibe Okwara Osonwa under the Labour Party had never been in doubt and was further affirmed by the Federal High Court in Umuahia, in a well-reasoned judgment delivered on 4/12/2022 in Suit No.: FHC/UM/CS/129/2022.
“Our brothers from Ututu should respect our emotions and sentiments by allowing our son and Ohafia Local Government Area to enjoy the mandate bestowed upon him. Our silence should not be misconstrued as weakness.”