The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Umuahia, Abia State, has made a significant decision by throwing out the petition filed by Nnadozie Okpokiri of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against Chris Nkwonta, who was elected to represent the Ukwa-East/Ukwa-West Federal Constituency.
The tribunal has cited a lack of merit in the petition as the basis for its decision.
In a unanimous verdict delivered by the three-member panel, led by Justice Solomon Gang, the tribunal determined that Okpokiri was unable to substantiate his claim that the election was significantly tainted by ‘non-compliance’ in a staggering one hundred and ninety-nine polling units.
Additionally, the tribunal observed that the petitioner failed to satisfy the burden of proof required for establishing ‘non-compliance,’ ultimately leading to the dismissal of the petition on the grounds of lacking merit.
Nkwonta’s legal team celebrates this outcome, with Orji Orji, one of the representatives, commending the tribunal for upholding the will of the voters. Orji pointed out that the petitioner had only presented 15 witnesses from 15 polling units, a fraction of the 214 polling units where he alleged electoral law violations, and had failed to substantiate his case in court.
Chidi Nwankpa, the media aide to the victorious lawmaker, expressed elation at the judgment, considering it a triumph for the Ukwa constituency. He emphasized that this ruling marks the commencement of the consolidation of democratic gains for the constituents, reaffirming the judiciary’s role as a last resort for the ordinary citizen.
It is worth noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had previously declared Nkwonta as the winner of the election, while APC’s Okpokiri secured a distant fourth position.