The Supreme Court of Nigeria has declined to nullify the election victory of Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State.
In a unanimous decision on Friday, a five-member panel of Justices, dismissed as incompetent, an appeal that the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate in the state, Uche Nnaji, filed to challenge the return of Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as winner of the gubernatorial contest.
In its lead judgement that was prepared by Justice Tijani Abubakar, the Supreme Court, held that Nnaji and his party, filed an invalid brief of argument.
It held that the appellants failed to adduce any cogent reason why the invalid process they filed should be relied upon to invalidate governor Mbah’s election victory.
According to the apex court, since the appellants’ brief of argument was legally defective, it ultimately affected the substantive appeal.
Consequently, it dismissed the case of the appellants for being incompetent.
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal in Enugu had on July 18, also dismissed Nnaji’s case against Mbah.
The appellate court held that the appeal marked:CA/E/E/EP/GOV/EN/01/2023, lacked merit, even as it upheld the verdict of the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which affirmed governor Mbah’s election victory.
Besides, the appellate court awarded a cost of N250,000 each, against Nnaji and the APC.
Vanguard reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had at the end of the gubernatorial poll in Enugu state, declared that Mbah garnered a total of 160,895 votes to defeat Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party, LP, who scored 157,552 votes.
While Frank Nweke Jnr. of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, came third with 17, 983 votes, Nnaji, came fourth with 14,575 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, Nnaji, filed a petition to challenge Mbah’s victory.
He insisted that Mbah was at the time of the election, not eligible to contest, alleging that he presented a forged certificate to INEC, in aid of his qualification.
More so, Nnaji argued that Mbah was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast during the election.
He, therefore, prayed the tribunal to disqualify Mbah, Edeoga, and Nweke and either declare him the winner of the poll or order INEC to conduct a runoff election between him and other candidates, excluding Mbah and the PDP.
However, in a verdict it delivered on June 20, the Enugu state governorship election petition tribunal dismissed the petition on the premise that it was not filed in compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
Not satisfied with the judgement, Nnaji went before the appellate court to set aside the decision of the tribunal.
In the alternative, he urged the appellate court to order the tribunal to hear his petition on its merit, a prayer the court refused on Friday.