By Charles Onyekamuo
The Legislative Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, the Anambra State capital, Saturday dismissed the petition brought against the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) member representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency of Anambra State in the House of Representatives, Hon.Uche Ekwunife, by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate in the February re-run election in the area ,Chief Dozie Nwankwo, for lacking in merit.
The Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice G.K Kaigama, who delivered the over four-hour judgement, said the petition failed because the petitioner failed to prove his case about irregularities against the third respondent (Ekwunife) beyond reasonable doubt, stressing that “The petition failed and is hereby dismissed.”
The ACN candidate in the election had approached the Election Petition Tribunal alleging irregularities in the 11 wards in Agulu, Anaocha Council area where Ekwunife won overwhelmingly.
But the Tribunal while reviewing the evidence adduced before it Saturday said the evidence of the petitioner was based on hear-say as against the direct evidence of various witnesses of the respondent of what happened at their respective pooling units which was not contradicted.
“It could not be safely said that the third and fourth respondents stuffed the ballot papers. We saw no evidence of rigging and stuffing of ballot papers was not proved beyond every reasonable doubt,” the tribunal said, adding that the process leading to the declaration of the third respondent (Ekwunife)as winner was in order even as it faulted the evidence of the forensic analyst brought to look at the poll’s results as a nullity.
Chairman of APGA Youth Wing in the United Kingdom and one of the Directors of Uche Ekwunife Campaign Organisation, Mr Cyril Udoh, described the panel’s decision as a welcome development.