Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Imo State Election Petition Tribunal on Saturday dismissed three petitions filed against the election of Emeka Ihedioha as Governor of Imo State.
The three-man tribunal in a unanimous decision dismissed the suits for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
The petitions inclunde that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA), Ifeanyi Arurume, that of the Action Alliance (AA), Uche Nwosu, and that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The petitioners approached the tribunal to cancel the election on the grounds that the declared winner did not meet the mandatory 25 percent in two third of the local government areas in the state.
They also alleged substantial non compliance with the electoral laws and other malpractices.
However, in the nearly 10 hours judgment delivered by chairman of the panel, Justice Malami Dogondaji, the tribunal held that the petitioners were not able to prove the allegations made in their petitions.
Senator Uzodinma, had specifically asked the tribunal to declare him the rightful winner of the election, based on non-inclusion of results from 366 polling booths out of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) approved 388 booths in the state.
Uzodinma had called in 54 witnesses to prove his case of non collation of results of some wards.
But in the unanimous judgment, the tribunal held that Uzodinma’s failure to call relevant witnesses was fatal to the petition.
The tribunal in addition held that the petitioners also failed to specify areas where elections were cancelled or did not take place.
Consequently, the tribunal expunged a large chunk of the evidence of the witnesses for being hearsay and wrongly admitted in evidence by the tribunal.
“Failure to discharge the heavy burden of proof makes the petition liable for dismissal and it is accordingly dismissed”, Justice Dogondaji held.
Other members of the panel include Justice Aminu Saad and Justice Idayat Moji-Sule.