..Its Victory for Democracy, Rule of Law – Elumelu
The election of Mr. Ngozi Okolie of the Labour Party as a member representing Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency of Delta State in the House of Representatives was on Monday nullified by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta State.
In about 107-page judgment that lasted over five hours, the three-member tribunal headed by Justice A.Z. Mussa disqualified Okolie and consequently declared the runner-up on February 25, 2023, National Assembly election, Ndudi Elumelu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner.
Elumelu, who is the immediate past Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, had in petition number EPT/DL/HR/06/2023, approached the tribunal, seeking to disqualify Okolie because he was not properly sponsored by the Labour Party and that he did not resign his position as a public office holder.
The tribunal agreed with the petitioners that the Second Respondent (Okolie) was not duly sponsored by the Third Respondent (Labour Party) as he was not a member of the party as of May 28, 2022, when the LP primary was purportedly held.
The tribunal also resolved in favor of the petitioners that the Second Respondent did not resign from public office to contest the elections which violate the provision of the law.
In an interview with newsmen the Petitioners’ Counsel, Andrew Osememedua Odum, SAN, described the judgment as “a correct exposition of jurisprudence and the law.”
“We also proved and the tribunal agreed with us that there were no primaries, there was no sponsorship, and the Labour Party did not conduct any primaries for the National Assembly election.
“Sections 65 and 66 of the Constitution require that for a person to be qualified to contest election into the House of Representatives, he must belong to a political party and must be sponsored by that political party. In this instance, Okolie, the tribunal found was not duly sponsored by the Labour Party because there were no primaries.
“On the second ground, the tribunal also found in our favor that Okolie was in public office, he did not resign, and he continued to collect salaries and emoluments in breach of the law.
“So, for these two reasons his election was nullified and in line with Section 135 of the Electoral Act, Hon. Elumelu who was the first runner up was declared winner of that election,” he added.
Reacting, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu commended the Judiciary for its courage in upholding justice and described the judgment as a victory for democracy, the Rule of law, and the people of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal. He maintained that the judgment has further reaffirmed that the judiciary is the last hope for the common man who feels aggrieved and followed the due judicial process of asking for redress.
Elumelu appreciated the people of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, the Governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori and the wife, the immediate past Governor of the State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who he noted set the ground running and supported him immensely.
He also appreciated the former Vice-president and Presidential candidate of the PDP in the last Presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his supporters as well as the media for their roles in the quest for justice on the matter.
The immediate past Minority Leader of the House of Representatives also commended Ngozi Lawrence Okolie for the way he comported himself throughout the sitting of the tribunal and urged Okolie to join hands with him to move the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency forward.
Chairman Nkem Okwuofu in her reaction also commended the Judgment of the tribunal and described it as an act of God. Others who reacted to the Judgment included, Chief Chris Agbabu, Chief Patrick Ukah, Hon. Chikazia, Chief Edwin Uzor, Chief Emma Chinye, Chief Dada Okonji, and Mr. Olise Ifeajika.
They all congratulated Elumelu for his victory at the Tribunal and called on the people of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency to remain steadfast in rallying around Hon Elumelu as he continues with his effective representation in the House of Representatives.