In a stunning turn of events, the Imo State National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal has removed Hon. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, the member representing Ideato North/South Federal Constituency. However, Ugochinyere strongly believes that the tribunal’s judgment contradicts the positions of the law.
As the chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Ugochinyere expressed his disappointment with the tribunal’s decision, stating that it goes against the provisions outlined in Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution. According to Ugochinyere, the case brought forward by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against his nomination should have been treated as a pre-election matter, which can only be heard by a Federal High Court, not an election petitions tribunal.
Ugochinyere further argued that only a political party has the legal standing to file a pre-election matter when a dispute on nomination affects its own candidates. To support his claims, he referenced a Supreme Court judgment (SC/CV/501/2023) that described a political party challenging the nomination of another party’s candidate as a “nosy busybody and a meddlesome interloper.”
The ousted representative insisted that the tribunal’s decision was based on a faulty petition filed by the APC candidate, Abazu Chika Benson. Ugochinyere accused Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, of influencing the tribunal’s verdict, labeling it a “legal coup.”
Undeterred by the tribunal’s ruling, Ugochinyere affirmed his readiness to participate in the supplementary poll ordered by the tribunal. He boldly declared, “Hope Uzodimma should know that we will never bow. Imo will win and Ideato will win.” He emphasized that the outcome of the House of Representatives election would not define his character, as his focus has always been on serving the people and being guided by God.
Ugochinyere expressed his intention to campaign in Imo State, assuring the people that they would witness the truth about the past four years and the misuse of public funds. He criticized Uzodimma’s leadership, claiming that the governor had prioritized his own ego over the welfare of the people. Ugochinyere highlighted that Abazu Chika Benson, the APC candidate, had only won one out of 346 polling units in the Ideato Federal Constituency, questioning the legitimacy of his claim to the seat.
Despite the challenges faced, Ugochinyere remained steadfast, confident in his victory, and grateful for the support of the people. He concluded by stating, “In all these jokes from Uzodimma, we have remained the victors backed by the immeasurable love of God and support of our people. Tomorrow will tell.”
The Imo State Election Petitions Tribunal has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days in the Ideato North/South Federal Constituency. This decision sets the stage for a fierce political battle as candidates and parties gear up for the upcoming election.
As the controversy surrounding Hon. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere’s removal continues to unfold, the political landscape in Imo State remains tense. The outcome of the supplementary poll will undoubtedly have significant implications for the constituents of Ideato North/South Federal Constituency and the political future of the parties involved.