The Ebonyi State Election Petitions Tribunal has affirmed the election of the governor of the state, Francis Nwifuru. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced Francis Nwifuru winner of the poll after he polled a total of 199,131 votes to defeat Chukwuma Ifeanyi Odii of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled a total of 80,191 votes.
Following the declaration of Nwifuru as winner of the election, Odii and PDP rejected the outcome and vowed to challenge it. They subsequently approached the Tribunal seeking the nullification of Nwifuru’s election on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and alleged failure to score the majority of lawful votes cast at the guber poll.
Odii and the PDP legal team argued that the governor was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election on the platform of the APC because he was still a member of the People’s Democratic Party.
During the court hearing, Nwifuru’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), submitted a letter before the Tribunal showing that the governor resigned from the PDP while serving as speaker of the state House of Assembly, and defected to the APC before its primary election.
Delivering judgment in the petition today Wednesday, September 27, the three-man panel of the Tribunal chaired by Justice O. Lekan held that it lack jurisdiction to hear the issue of nomination and sponsorship by a political party, as it is a pre-election matter and should have been challenged before the Federal High Court before the election.