Ebonyi 2019 Governorship Tribunal-PDP Humiliates PDM… Each Respondent to Receive N100,000 Award
By Agnes Igwe
The 2019 Governorship Election petition Tribunal sitting in Abakaliki presided over by Justice A.B Abdulkarim has dismissed the petition brought before it by Peoples Democratic Movement Party (PDM) for lack of merit.
The tribunal during its judgment recently declared that the election, declaration, and return of the third respondent in the matter, Chief David Umahi by the first respondent Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was lawful and not liable to be nullified.
Recall, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Chief Ajah-Agha Olughu of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), had dragged INEC, PDP and Governor Umahi to the Tribunal for alleged unlawful exclusion of his name from INEC ballot papers used in 2019 March 9 governorship election in the state, an act which in other words disenfranchised them.
The tribunal despite all reliefs sought by the petitioners affirmed Governor David Umahi’s victory with a declaration that from their findings, the 2nd petitioner sent a list of his party’s candidates later than the constitutionally stipulated date, did not comply with INEC guidelines for the nomination, did not conduct valid primary elections.
In other words, the 2nd petitioner was not validly nominated by the 1st petitioner, PDM party to contest for the said election in Ebonyi state.
The 2nd petitioners, Chief Ajah-Agha Olughu who called four witnesses in the course of the matter was also awarded cost of N100,000 one hundred thousand naira to be paid to each respondent.
The tribunal declared thus in part: “PDM did not submit the name of their candidates to INEC when they were supposed to do so.
Your party sent the name of your candidate three days after closure of submission, according to findings.”“Also, your party did not organize primaries as to produce a candidate according to INECs guideline, therefore your petition lacks merit.
The judgment, however, took a different dimension when the 2nd petitioner’s counsel Michael Oguduodo Esq who appeared with Anyim D.J. and O.H Mazi Esq asked for an award of N500,000 cost from the counsel who appeared in protest for the 1st petitioner PDM party Steve Nwankwo Esq.
To that effect, the lead counsel to the 3rd respondent Arthur Obiokafor (SAN) and that of 2nd respondent Roy Nweze appreciated the tribunal for the judgment which turned to be in their favor but argued that issuing a cost to a lawyer for doing his legitimate job is against the legal profession.
Reacting in an interview shortly after the judgment, the 3rd Respondent in the matter, the Ebonyi State Governor represented by the Deputy Governor, Barr. Kelechi Igwe, who led other Exco members to the Tribunal said they weren’t expecting anything less than the verdict of the court.
He said, “We were not expecting anything less than what we got from the court. We feel excited that people who are flying into the courtrooms through the windows were also thrown out through the windows.”
“The court is not a chessboard where anybody can go in with his wings and caprices in evil manipulative schemes or thinks he can deceive the court to get what he does not deserve. A court is a temple of justice where people who are coming must come not only with clean hands but with pure hearts” the Governor stated.