By Bukola Olasanmi
The National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed the Petitions filed by Hon. Jones Onyereri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Osita Izunaso of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) against the declaration and return of Senator Rochas Anayo Okorocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo West Senatorial District, conducted on the 23rd February 2019. election to the office of Senator representing
The Petitioners, Hon. Onyereri and Senator Izunaso, had challenged the victory of Senator Okorocha at the Tribunal sitting in Owerri, Imo State on the grounds that the election was marred by over-voting, disenfranchisement and other corrupt practices, irregularities and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which substantially affected the result of the election.
Prior to the filing of the Petition, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had refused to issue a certificate of return to Senator Okorocha based on the allegation of INEC’s returning officer for the election, Professor Ibeawuchi that he declared the result of the election under duress.
In its judgments, the Tribunal found that Professor Ibeawuchi who testified for Hon. Onyereri and Senator Izunaso was not a witness of truth. The Tribunal called him a dramatist whose evidence could not withstand the barrage of questions thrown at him under cross-examination by the counsel representing Senator Okorocha – Chief Okey Amechi, SAN and Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN who represented All Progressives Congress APC.
The Tribunal found as a fact that Professor Ibeawuchi’s evidence was contradictory and largely unreliable. The Tribunal also held that the Petitioners’ witnesses gave oral and documentary hearsay evidence.
Consequently, the Tribunal found that the Petitioners failed to prove that the declaration and return of Senator Okorocha was invalid by reason of over-voting, disenfranchisement and other corrupt practices, irregularities and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The Petition was thereafter dismissed for being unmeritorious.