Ngige’s Petition Suffers Major Set Back

By Kelvin Emodi

The Petition filed by the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 16, 2013 Anambra State Governorship elections, Senator Chris Ngige at the Anambra Election Petitions Tribunal in Awka suffered a major setback on Friday February 28, 2014 with the striking out of some paragraphs in the petition by the three-man panel led by Justice Ishaq Bello, in agreement with the submissions of Counsel to Anambra State Governor elect Chief Willie Obiano that some of the issues canvassed by APC and Ngige were pre-election maters which fall under the jurisdiction of the High Court while the crux of the issues remain within the category which are not tenable in the Tribunal.

Senator Ngige who came third in the elections had urged the Tribunal to nullify the election of Chief Obiano on the claims that he was not qualified to contest due to alleged multiple registration and the supply of false information to INEC; but the Justices relied on Section 32(5) of the Electoral Act to clarify that the Respondent had not been disqualified nor convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction.

Other observations by the Tribunal include; that whereas APC and Ngige also made criminal allegations against some APGA chieftains and security operatives, they failed to establish the individual respondents in the petition.

Above all, the allegation that an electoral fraud was committed in some polling units without specifying the actual polling units involved, was considered vague, imprecise and nebulous, provoking the question; which polling units?

Barely a week ago, the tribunal held that aspects of the Petition filed by the candidate of People's Democratic Party, Mr. Tony Nwoye who came second in the polls, which canvassed almost the same issues raised by APC and Ngige were not tenable and thereby struck out the offending paragraphs.

The panel had in keeping with its promise to avoid technicalities allowed the petitioners and respondents adequate space to argue the applications as part of the Pre-Hearing phase before coming up with the ruling.

Reacting to the ruling, Counsel to Chief Obiano, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, (SAN) and that of APGA Mr. Osita Nnadi (SAN) thanked the Panel for their industry and timely determination of issues at the prehearing phase, while Counsel for APC and Ngige, Mr Emeka Ngige, (SAN) requested for the release of the Judgment to enable them proceed on appeal.

The ruling marked the end of the pre-hearing phase. The Tribunal adjourned till Wednesday March 5, 2014.

It would be recalled that when the Anambra State Election Petitions Tribunal began public proceedings on Tuesday 4th February 2014, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ishaq Bello, reminded the Counsels to the Petitioners and Respondents led by mainly Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) that the whole world was watching and that their conduct would go a long way to determine the opinion that the world would hold of the proceedings.