Appeal Court Dismisses Enugu APC Candidate’s Suit Against Mbah

The APC candidate contended that Mbah was not constitutionally qualified to contest the election for allegedly presenting a forged certificate to INEC.


A photo combination of 2023 APC governorship candidate Uche Nnaji and Enugu State Governor Peter Mbah

 

The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the suit filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 Enugu State governorship election, Uche Nnaji, challenging the victory of Governor Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The decision of the three-man panel of the appellate court was delivered by Justice J.O.K Oyewole on Tuesday.

Nnaji, whose petition was initially dismissed by the Justice K.M Akano-led Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on June 20, had approached the appellate court to seek redress.

The APC candidate, in the petition, contended that Mbah was not constitutionally qualified to vie for the office of the governor at the time of the election for allegedly presenting a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Among others, Nnaji, who polled 14,575 votes against Mbah’s 160,895 votes, to place a distant fourth in the election, equally averred that his PDP counterpart was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

Also joined as respondents were the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Chijioke Edeoga, and that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr Frank Nweke Jr., who, according to the appellant, were not qualified to contest the election, having allegedly run foul of the asset declaration law.

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He, therefore, asked the tribunal to disqualify Mbah, Edeoga, and Nweke and either declare him the winner or order INEC to conduct a runoff election between him and other remaining candidates.

However, delivering judgement on the petition marked EPT/EN/GOV/05/23, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice M.K Akano, said the lawsuit was not filed in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and could not be heard pursuant to paragraph 18(3) (4) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2022.

Consequently, Nnaji approached the Court of Appeal, praying for it to send the dismissed petition back to the tribunal for hearing and determination of the suit.

But at the resumed hearing of the appeal marked CA/E/E/EP/GOV/EN/01/2023 on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the tribunal and dismissed the suit accordingly.

The appellate court equally awarded the sum of N250,000 each against Uche Nnaji and the APC.