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Enugu State Governor, Barr. Peter Mbah, has extended a hand of collaboration to Barr. Chijioke and Edeoga, the Labour Party’s gubernatorial contenders for the March 18 state election. He stressed the need to end divisions and prioritise the state’s welfare.
In the wake of the Enugu State governorship election tribunal’s judgement, which upheld his election, Governor Mbah has reached out to the opposition, signalling a willingness to work together for the betterment of the state.
In two separate judgments delivered yesterday, the three-member Enugu Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, chaired by Justice Kudirat Morayo Akano, dismissed the petitions filed by the Labour Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Barrister Chijioke Edeoga, and the PRP candidate, Mr. Chris Agu. The dismissals were based on a lack of merit, upholding Governor Mbah’s election.
Mbah stated, ‘There is time for everything under the sun. There is time to strive and time to unite. We all put ourselves forward to serve Ndi Enugu. The people have spoken and the tribunal has also reaffirmed. If service is the motivation, then it is time to rise above partisanship and come together because there is much work to be done’
Viewing the judgment as a victory for the extensive development of Enugu State, Governor Mbah issued a call to the opposition to close ranks and work collectively towards the state’s progress.
Governor Mbah stated further, ‘Our arms are wide open and i beckon on my brothers who ran this race with us to join us in the onerous task of building a new Enugu state of our dreams’.
Barrister Edeoga raised objections to Mbah’s election, citing significant concerns such as the alleged forgery of Mbah’s NYSC certificate, electoral irregularities, and instances of over-voting.
Justice Kudirat Morayo Akano, as the chairperson of the three-member panel, delivered a verdict in favor of the respondent, Mbah, leading to the dismissal of the petition.
The panel dismissed Edeoga’s plea to disqualify Mbah, which centered on the accusation of an NYSC certificate forgery.
The panel maintained that, in accordance with Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution, possession of an NYSC certificate is not a prerequisite for participating in a gubernatorial election.
It was ruled that Mbah’s submission of his NYSC certificate to INEC was superfluous, as he met the qualifications for the governor’s office without it.
Allegations of over-voting and the bypassing of BVAS were likewise dismissed by the Tribunal.
The panel made clear that the witnesses provided by the Labour Party were not officially accredited agents approved by INEC, and as a result, their testimony held no validity.
It was determined by the panel that Mbah’s election as governor was a result of the majority of lawful and valid votes cast during the election.
Barrister Casmir Agbo, the Enugu State Labour Party chairman, voiced dissatisfaction with the tribunal’s ruling, stating that the three-member panel failed to adequately address the forgery allegations against Peter Mbah.
He declared their intention to take the matter to court through an appeal, seeking to challenge the judgment’s conclusion.
‘Tribunal in his wisdom today failed to present the fact and law when they said in the first place that Barr. Peter Mbah who attached forged certificate is qualified to contest the election. They said it is not the requirement to contest the election.’
‘Instead of the tribunal to determine whether the certificate was forged but only ruled on the subpena of NYSC head of certificate did not meet the requirement specifications of time to upload his written statement.’
‘We are asking the tribunal if a witness must bring his written statement before the date of court, the answer is no. They’re following the footstep of Appeal court on Peter Obi and they are in supreme Court and we are going over to appeal court’.
Mr. Chris Agu, the PRP Governorship candidate, who was present during the court proceedings, stated his plan to initiate an appeal challenging the tribunal’s decision.
He shared that the judgment did not resonate with him, neither spiritually nor physically.