Election Petition Tribunals Sack 7 Labour Party Reps in One Month
The Labour Party (LP) has so far become the biggest losers at the various National Assembly election petition tribunals currently sitting in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At the last count, the LP has lost seven National Assembly members to the judgement of the tribunals, all of them from the House of Representatives. Most of the judgements are hinged on the issue of “invalid nomination.”
The first salvo was served in Delta State, when the Chairman of the three man panel of the Delta State National Assembly election petition panel, Justice A.Z. Mussa ruled that the member representing Aniocha Oshimili Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Ngozi Okolie was not validly nominated by the Labour Party. The panel, thereafter declared former Minority Leader of the 9th House of Representatives and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Ndudi Elumelu who came second in the election as the valid winner of the February, 25 National Assembly election in the federal constituency.
Ruling on the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives (APC), Hon. Lanre Ogunyemi for the Ojo Federal Constituency of Lagos State, the three man panel of the Lagos State National Assembly election petition tribunal comprising Justice Ashu A. Ewah, Chairman, Justice Abdullahi A Ozegya, and Justice M A Sambo unanimously sacked the LP candidate, Hon. Seyi Sowunmi for not being validly nominated by the LP. The panel subsequently declared the second runner up, Lanre Ogunyemi as the valid winner of the election.
On September 6, the Abia National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sacked the member representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency on the platform of the Labour Party (LP, Hon Amobi Ogah on the ground of invalid nomination by the LP.
The panel the three-man panel headed by Justice Adeyinka Aderegbegbe declared the All Progressives Congress (APC), candidate, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the winner of the February 25 National Assembly election and subsequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ogah and issue a fresh one to Onyejeocha
Onyejeocha, the immediate past Deputy Whip of the House of Representatives and incumbent Minister of State for Labour and Emplyment, had approached the tribunal seeking the nullification of Ogah’s election on the ground that he was not qualified to contest for the election, and was not validly nominated and sponsored by his party.
On September 8, 2023, the Enugu State National Assembly election petition tribunal also sacked Hon (Prof) Paul Nnamchi, the member representing the Enugu East/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency on the platform of the LP.
The panel ruled that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Cornelius Nnaji was the winner instead. The tribunal ruling held that Hon. Nnamchi was not qualified to contest the February 25, National Assembly election because he was not validly sponsored by the Labour Party.
As if the sacks were not enough, the Abia State National Assembly election petition tribunal on Monday September 11, 2023 sacked three federal lawmakers of the Labour Party in one fell swoop.
The three man panel headed by Justice Adeyinka Adegberegbe, ruled that Hon. Ibe Okwara Osonwa, the lawmaker representing Arochukwu/ Ohafia Federal Constituency on the platform of LP did not meet constitutional requirement for nomination by his party and therefore was not qualified to contest the election. In his place, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Daniel Chimezie Okeke was declared the valid winner of the election. The tribunal also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ibe Okwara Osonwa and a fresh one issued to Okeke of APC.
In yet another judgement, the member representing Aba North/Aba South Federal Constituency, Hon. Emeka Nnamani on the platform of the Labour Party was also sacked by the Abia State National Assembly election petition tribunal and the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Alex Mascot of was declared as the valid winner of the election.
The sack of the LP candidate was hinged on the forgery allegation against the LP lawmaker. The tribunal agreed with the petition brought before it by Alex Mascot of APGA, where the petitioner raised questions concerning the academic qualifications of Hon. Emeka Nnamani.
In the case of Osisioma/Obingwa/Ugwunagbo Federal Constituency, the victory of Hon. Munachim Alozie of the Labour Party (LP) was nullified by the tribunal due to the slim margin of lead in the February 25,National Assembly election in the constituency.
The tribunal ordered that a re-run election be conducted by INEC within 90 days.
In another development, the Labour Party gained a seat in Plateau State on Monday, September 11, 2023 when the Plateau State National Assembly election petition tribunal ruled that INEC should immediately issue a fresh certificate of return to Mr. Fom Daylop of the LP as the valid winner of the Barkin Ladi Federal Constituency election of February 25, 2023.
In its ruling, the three man panel led by Justice Muhammad Tukur held that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Hon. Peter Gyang was not qualified to contest the election as he party disobeyed a High Court ruling that the party should organize ward congress before the selection of its candidates.
The Labour Party emerged the third force in the Nigeria electoral system in the 2023 general elections. The party made a strong showing emerging third in the presidential election. It also won 38 House of Reps seats in the House of Representatives.
So far, judgement is being expected in both Senate and governorship petitions involving candidates of the LP.