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Appeal Court upholds victory of Mbah in Enugu Governorship

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Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State

By Akin Kuponiyi
The State and National Assembly Appeal Court sitting in Lagos has affirmed the election of Peter Ndubuisi Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as the Governor of Enugu State.
The Appellate Court on Friday in an unanimous decision resolved all the three issues canvassed against the appellant by Edeoga Chijioke Jonathan of the Labour Party.
The 3-member panel Presided over by  Justice Tani Yusuf Hassan held that the Appellant failed to prove that Peter Mbah was not qualified to contest the governorship election.
On the allegation of over voting,  Justice Hassan in her lead judgement held that “Voters’ Register was never placed before the lower tribunal, stressing that failure to tender the Voters Register before the lower Tribunal rendered the appeal inadmissible.
The Appellate held that the testimony of all the witnesses called by the Appellant did not prove that there was over-voting in the governorship election.
Consequently, the court dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit and affirmed the judgement of the election tribunal, which declared Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of March 18, 2023 governorship election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Mbah the winner of the March 18 governorship election with 160,895 votes.
Edeoga of the Labour party LP came second with 157,552 votes, while Frank Nweke of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) polled 17, 983 votes to claim third place.
Dissatisfied, Edeoga and his party  approached the tribunal to disqualify Mbah and declare him the winner of the election, while claiming to have polled the highest valid votes cast.
The petitioners also challenged the candidacy of the governor over an alleged forgery of a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
In its judgement, the Enugu state Governorship election petition tribunal  affirmed Peter Mbah as the duly elected governor of the state.
Delivering judgment, the tribunal led by Kudirat Akano, dismissed the petition filed by Chijioke Edeoga, candidate of the Labour Party (LP).
Delivering the judgment, the tribunal held that Edeoga and his party failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
The court held that Mbah met the minimum requirements for the election which is a school certificate or its equivalent.
The tribunal rejected Edeoga’s witnesses, adding that the petitioners did not present any admissible evidence to prove that Mbah’s certificate was forged.
“NYSC discharge certificate is not a qualification for governorship election,” the tribunal ruled.
“Assuming that the NYSC discharge certificate of the  respondent as claimed by the petitioners was forged, is the NYSC certificate a qualification to contest for governorship election in Nigeria according to the constitution? The answer is no.”
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