BREAKING: Supreme Court Upholds Election Of Abia Gov. Alex Otti

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By Kamsi Anayo

The Supreme Court has upheld the election of Dr. Alex Otti of the Labour Party as the validly elected governor of Abia state.

The apex court in a ruling on Friday dismissed the issue of invalid nomination, saying that the sponsorship of a candidate is purely a party affair.

Abubakar Malami, a former Attorney-General of the Federation who is the counsel for the APC and its candidate, High Chief Ikechi Emenike, had asked the Supreme Court to declare that Otti was not duly sponsored by the LP.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced Otti winner of the Abia State governorship election with 175,467 votes.

Okey Ahiwe of the PDP and Enyinnaya Nwafor of the YPP trailed Otti with 88,529 and 28,972 votes respectively.

But the PDP and APC challenged his election victory both at the Abia State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Appeal Court but lost out.

The Appeal Court sitting in Lagos State dismissed the appeals finding that the APC and the PDP did not adduce evidence to prove that Otti was not a member by LP or that the votes he scored were forged.

The appeal court also held that membership and sponsorship by a political party remain a pre-election matter and the internal affairs of a political party.

Malami asked the five-man panel of the apex court chaired by Justice Inyang Okoro to allow his appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower courts, contending that Otti and other respondents were not constitutionally sponsored by their party because at the time of the election, they were members of another political party.

Onyechi Ikpeazu, counsel for Otti told the apex court that there is nothing novel about the appeal by the APC because the Supreme Court had made several pronouncements saying sponsorship and membership by a political party remained an the internal affairs of a political party.

The PDP’s legal team alleged before the court that the results in Obingwa LGA of Abia state were short-changed against his client and in favour of Otti.

Ikpeazu urged the apex court to align with the decisions of lower courts in the allegations of non-compliance.

Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji of the Supreme Court held that record showed that Otti duly joined the LP before the March 18 governorship election.

“This appeal shouldn’t have been taken up to this level,” Justice Aji said, adding that the lower courts were right to state that Otti’s LP membership remains the internal affairs of his party.

The judge said the purported Electoral results forms from Obingwa LGA tendered by the PDP remained inadmissible because it was not frontloaded alongside the petition.

The apex court further held that the witnesses fielded by the petitioners were incompetent.

“The appeal is hereby dismissed and the judgment of the Appeal Court is hereby affirmed,” the judge held.

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