THE National/State Assemblies Election Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, Monday, upheld the election of the Majority Leader of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Chinedum Orji even as the petitioner openly accused the justices of taking bribe to decide the case.
The tribunal struck out the petition filed by Sydney Onyemere, an Umuahia based lawyer, who ran on the platform of the opposition All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, on the ground that he did not know the name of the state constituency he contested election to represent.
The tribunal said that the petitioner had come to the tribunal to seek redress for a non-existing constituency, which he referred to as Umuahia Urban State Constituency, whereas the respondent, Orji was returned for Umuahia Central state constituency.
Delivering judgment in the petition, the Tribunal chairman, Adeniyi Onigbanjo, said that Onyemere did not only fail to prove the allegation of substantial non-compliance, but also could not correctly identify the constituency he wanted to represent.
The petitioner, however, openly accused the panel members of having been compromised. He accused the panel members of adjourning for ten minutes to get the alert of the said financial inducement before giving judgment in his matter.
After the judgment, as the other layers were expressing their acceptance of the judgment in the legal tradition, Onyemere, a lawyer by training, burst out in emotional tirade against the panel and accused them of being compromised.
“You waited for 10 minutes and confirmed the alert before reading your judgment. You can send me to jail but I must say it”, the angry petitioner exploded.
Shouting while being dragged outside the court room, the petitioner “can’t you control your appetite for money?” and when he was reminded that as a lawyer he should respect the bench, he said “I don’t want to be a lawyer again”.
In the judgment, the panel chairman said that “the petitioner must show that election was held in a duly recognized constituency and that the respondent was returned in the same constituency”.
He said that having gone through the INEC list of constituencies and could find neither Umuahia Urban state constituency nor Umuahia Urban/Central state constituency as used interchangeably by the petitioner, the “petition was automatically rendered incompetent”.
The tribunal noted that the use of the names non-existing Umuahia Urban and Umuahia Urban/Umuahia Central state constituency “is a constitutional one and should not be taken lightly”.
In other judgments, the Tribunal upheld the election of Mr. Emeka Alozie of PDP for Osisioma South state constituency and Mr. Paul Taribo also of PDP for Ukwa East state constituency.
It however it ordered for re-run election in 25 polling units in Umunneochi state constituency where the election of the Minority leader, Mr. Ikedi Ezekwesiri of APGA was challenged by Mr. Chima Mgbeke of PDP.