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Enugu Court of Appeal Dismisses APC’s Governorship Candidate’s Suit, Upholds Victory of PDP’s Dr. Peter Mbah

Enugu, Nigeria – In a recent development, the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the suit filed by Chief Uche Nnaji, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the 2023 general election in Enugu state. Nnaji had sought to challenge the victory of Dr. Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The decision was delivered by Justice J.O.K Oyewole on Tuesday, bringing an end to the legal battle surrounding the election results.

Chief Uche Nnaji, who initially had his petition dismissed by the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal led by Justice K.M Akano on June 20, 2023, decided to turn to the Court of Appeal for recourse. Nnaji’s petition centered around his belief that Dr. Peter Mbah was not constitutionally qualified to run for the position of governor, alleging the submission of a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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In addition to this claim, Nnaji contended that Governor Mbah was not elected by a majority of lawful votes and that the candidates of the Labour Party (LP), Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Frank Nweke Jr., were also unqualified to contest the election due to alleged violations of the asset declaration law.

Chief Uche Nnaji called on the Tribunal to disqualify Dr. Peter Mbah, Edeoga, and Nweke, and either declare him the winner or order INEC to conduct a runoff election between him and the remaining candidates.

However, Justice M.K Akano, the Chairman of the Tribunal, dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that it was not filed in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. The lawsuit could not be heard under paragraph 18(3) (4) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2022.

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Undeterred, Nnaji took his case to the Court of Appeal, hoping that the dismissed petition would be sent back to the Tribunal for proper hearing and determination. But on Tuesday, during the appeal hearing marked CA/E/E/EP/GOV/EN/01/2023, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Tribunal and dismissed the suit, effectively closing the door on Nnaji’s legal challenge.

Furthermore, the Court of Appeal ordered Chief Uche Nnaji and the APC to pay the sum of N250,000 each as costs.

This verdict marks a significant milestone in the electoral processes of Enugu State. The ruling affirms the victory of Dr. Peter Mbah as the governor of Enugu, securing his position and acknowledging the legitimacy of his election. The decision by the Court of Appeal demonstrates a commitment to upholding electoral laws and ensuring fairness in electoral processes.

The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal’s decision in this case sends a strong message about the importance of adhering to constitutional requirements and electoral standards. It highlights the need for political candidates to fulfill the necessary qualifications and obligations as prescribed by the law.

As the legal battle concludes, Enugu State can now focus on moving forward with the governance agenda set by the elected officials. The citizens can shift their attention to the pressing issues facing their state, confident in their elected leaders’ ability to address their concerns effectively.

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The dismissal of Chief Uche Nnaji’s suit also underscores the significance of maintaining the integrity of electoral processes. It is a reminder that the electoral system in Nigeria, like in any democracy, is designed to protect the rights of citizens and ensure that elected officials are legitimate representatives of the people’s will.

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