The Ebonyi State Election Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which convened in Abuja, has made a significant decision.
The tribunal, comprised of a three-member panel headed by Justice Lekan Ogunmoye, has dismissed a petition brought forward by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its governorship candidate, Prof. Benard Odoh.
Election dismissed over qualification
The petition, lodged against the election of Francis Nwifuru as the governor of Ebonyi State, was based on allegations of non-qualification.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had initially declared Nwifuru, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the state’s governorship election held in March 2023.
In their plea, APGA and Odoh contended that Nwifuru, who had previously been a member of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly and had served as the Speaker of the house under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was not eligible to contest the gubernatorial election in Ebonyi State.
The crux of their argument was that Nwifuru’s prior affiliations rendered him unqualified for the governorship seat.
Consequently, the petitioners urged the tribunal to nullify Nwifuru’s victory based on his purported non-qualification.
However, in delivering their judgment, the tribunal panel, led by Justice Lekan Ogunmoye, ruled that the petitioners lacked the legal standing, or locus standi, to bring forward this challenge.
The panel determined that the issue raised in the petition was essentially an internal matter within the APC, thereby dismissing the petition.