PRESS STATEMENT BY CHIEF IBE OKWARA OSONWA, HON. MEMBER REPRESENTING AROCHUKWU/OHAFIA FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY
My attention has just been drawn to a judgment delivered few minutes ago by the National and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, comprising of Hon.Justice Adeyinka A. Aderibgbe (Chairman), Hon. Justice Kadi Mustaha A. Lalloki (Member I) and Hon. Justice Farouk U. Sarki (Member II).
I am reliably informed by my team of lawyers, that the said judgment, in summary, disqualified my candidacy for the election under the platform of the Labour Party and my return as the winner of the said election as declared by INEC, having garnered the majority of lawful votes cast.
It will be important to state that at the conclusion of the election in the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency, INEC in their declaration returned me as the winner with 8,946 votes, while Okeke Chimezie and APC scored 6, 635 votes.
Following my said disqualification, the Tribunal declared Okeke Chimezie of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election, and, further Ordered that the Certificate of return issued to me be withdrawn and same issued to the said Okeke Chimezie.
The Tribunal, I am informed, hinged their judgment on my disqualification on Sections 77(2) and (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, an issue which the Appellate Courts have severally posited are not for the Election Tribunal, but remain in the domain of pre – election matters.
My candidacy for election under the Labour Party had never been in doubt and was further reinforced by the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, in a well – considered judgment delivered on 4/12/2022 in Suit No.: FHC/UM/CS/129/2022.
Today’s Tribunal judgment is not only perverse in all its ramifications, but also an affront on the established tenets of democracy and the wish and rights of the good people of the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in choosing their representative at the National Assembly.
I wish to assure all my constituents of my resolve to Appeal this judgment in my determined bid to recover the mandate freely given to me by a wide majority of the people of my constituency.
I urge all my supporters to remain calm and prayerful as this “victory” against us is only phyric, and, will not endure, as the points upon which this perverse judgment is hinged cannot be sustained on the basis of the facts, circumstances of the case and the extant electoral laws.
I want to emphasize my belief, trust and confidence in the ability of the Nigerian Judiciary to dispense justice to all manner of men without fear, favour, ill – will or affection.
My impending Appeal will definitely bring succor to our present discomfort as a result of this judgment and reinforce my emergence as your representative at the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
DATED THIS 11th DAY OF SEPTEMBER
CHIEF IBE OKWARA OSONWA
(Hon. Member Representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency)