The Labour Party has expressed its dissatisfaction with the judgment of the Enugu Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which upheld the victory of Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party as the governor of the state.
The party stated this at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, three weeks after the tribunal dismissed the petitions of LP and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, for lacking merit.
Edeoga had challenged Mbah’s election on the grounds of submitting a forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate, over-voting, and other irregularities.
However, the tribunal, in a majority decision of two out of three members, ruled that the NYSC discharge certificate was not a qualification for governorship election and that Edeoga failed to prove his allegations of over-voting and manipulation of results.
The National Publicity Secretary of LP, Obiora Ifoh, said the tribunal’s judgment was contrary to the expectations of Nigerians and legal experts, who had criticized the logic and premise of the decision.
He said LP had evidence that PDP colluded with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to inflate Mbah’s votes by over 30,000 in Nkanu East Local Government Area, when only about 15,000 voters were accredited in the area.
He said LP and Edeoga approached the tribunal to seek justice and correct the anomaly, as they believed they had won the March 18 governorship election in Enugu State.
He said, “It was essentially a case of over-voting in Nkanu East LGA, especially in Owo and Ugbawka, that prompted the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, to approach the Tribunal in the hope that the judiciary will review and correct that anomaly. To be clear, it is important that Nigerians understand that Enugu State is a Labour Party State and we make bold to say that our candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, clearly won the March 18 governorship election held in Enugu.
“This claim is justified by the outcome of all the other elections held in the State between February and March this year. The Labour Party won two of the three senatorial seats in the State; seven of the eight Rep seats in the State and 14 out of the 24 seats in the State House of Assembly. Notwithstanding this true position, the Enugu State Governorship Election Tribunal on September 21 shockingly delivered a judgment on the disputed election that appeared to have ignored the facts in issue.”
Ifoh also questioned why the tribunal ignored the testimony of the Director of Corps Certifications of NYSC, who appeared before it through a subpoena and confirmed that Mbah’s NYSC discharge certificate was not issued by them.
He said this testimony fulfilled the requirements of proof of forgery and should have invalidated Mbah’s election.
He also wondered why the tribunal gave a different verdict from that of Nasarawa State, where a similar case of forgery was decided against Governor Abdullahi Sule¹².
He warned that Mbah’s case would set a bad precedent for future election petitions and vowed that LP would appeal against the judgment at higher courts.
He said, “If we allow the injustice perpetrated in Enugu by both the INEC and the Election Tribunal, sitting as the court of first instance, to stand, tomorrow the consequences for us all may be dire.”