The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, the Imo State capital on Thursday dismissed an appeal brought by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the ruling of the Abia State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State.
The appeal followed the ruling of the Abia State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in which the tribunal struck out the governor’s appeal, stating that all preliminary objections should be taken along with the substantive petition.
Earlier, the governor and his party had approached the Appellate Court to appeal against the decision of the tribunal and also for the court to set aside the decision of the tribunal to hear Alex Otti’s petition because it was not properly filed.
However, in a unanimous ruling delivered by Justice Aliyu Baka and Justice Aribiyi, the Appeal Court set aside Governor Ikpeazu’s appeal, saying the governorship election petition tribunal deserved the right to keep all the motions till the final date.
The court stated that the decision of the tribunal was in line with Section 12 (5) of the first schedule of the electoral law which states that the tribunal has discretion to keep all the motions till the final date.
The Appellate Court also dismissed the PDP’s appeal, which stated that Alex Otti’s petition was not properly signed to be accepted as a petition before the tribunal as well as that the pre-trial form was not issued by Alex Otti and his party, APGA.
It would be recalled that the same Court of Appeal in Owerri had on the 3rd of August 2015 struck out Governor Ikpeazu’s appeal against the ruling of the tribunal on his motion be taken along with the judgment.
Otti also filed an appeal urging the appeal court to set aside the ruling of the lower tribunal against his application for extension of time to tender more evidence and call more witness to close his case formally.
Speaking with journalists after the ruling, Counsel to APGA and Alex Otti, Mr Nwala Oracle, described the judgement as one that went the way it should, adding that the ruling had only advanced the course of justice, otherwise, justice will be delayed by so much obstacles. He however expressed confidence that his client will take the upper hand at the end of the day.
Also speaking, counsel to the PDP, Charles Esonu, accepted the ruling as one that had enhanced the course of law.