PDP, APC Reject Tribunal Verdict Affirming Otti’s Mandate
Opposition Parties Hint on Challenging Judgement at Appellate Level
The two main opposition parties in Abia that challenged the electoral victory of Governor Alex Otti at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal have rejected the verdict which affirmed him as the duly elected governor.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their respective candidates had dragged Otti to the Tribunal seeking to nullify his mandate.
But in their judgment delivered on October 6, 2023, the three-man Tribunal unanimously agreed that Otti was duly elected as Abia governor in the March 18, 2023 poll.
Reacting to the Tribunal verdict, the PDP candidate, Chief Ambrose Ahiwe rejected the judgement of the Tribunal but said “there is no cause for alarm as truth and justice would ultimately triumph”.
In a statement signed by his media adviser, Victor Nwokocha, the candidate of the immediate past ruling party in Abia, <span;>expressed “unblemished confidence in the Judiciary.
He said that his legal team would thoroughly examine the Tribunal judgment and “advise accordingly on the next line of action to follow”.
Ahiwe called on his teaming supporters to remain calm and law-abiding, assuring that he would keep them updated after due consultations with his legal team and the PDP leadership.
While he lauded his legal team for their efforts in the legal fireworks, Chief Ahiwe expressed profound appreciation to his numerous supporters, family, friends and associates, for standing by him.
Meanwhile, the Abia chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has vehemently rejected the verdict which validated Otti’s mandate.
In a statement issued by the state chairman of APC, Dr Kingsley Ononogbu, the party said that the Tribunal judgment delivered on Friday was contrary to the tenets of justice.
“This verdict handed down by the three-man panel is the mother of miscarriage of justice. It is unacceptable and we reject it,” the party said.
Abia APC and its gubernatorial flag bearer in the 2023 general election, High Chief Ikechi Emenike, had jointly filed petition seeking to nullify the candidature of Otti and other candidates.
He also asked the Tribunal to declare as the only qualified candidate that contested the poll and scored the highest lawful votes. But the Tribunal in a unanimous verdict dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
“We condemn unequivocally the judgement of the tribunal. Consequently, we have mandated our legal team to appeal the judgement,” Ononogbu said.
“With this judgement today(October 6), it is obvious that justice was strangulated; more so, and very worrisome is that the court may no longer be the hope of the common man if justice continues to be debased,” he added.
The Abia APC chairman pointed out that the opposition party had approached the Tribunal “with fundamental issues” bothering on non-compliance with extant laws and qualification of candidates.
He regretted that despite providing “substantial evidences and facts in support of our petitions” the party was “surprised and shocked that the tribunal closed its eyes against all the evidences before it and averted justice”.
Ononogbu alluded to external influence on the outcome of the Tribunal proceedings, saying that “Abia is aware that extraneous forces were at play during the proceedings”.
He aaid: “There was a high ranking individual whose inappropriate presence during one of the proceedings was viewed with suspicion.
“It was part of the machinations to intimidate, coax and arm-twist the judges in order to pervert justice and deliver judgement in favour of a particular client, irrespective of abundant evidences before the tribunal.
“This undoubtedly, may have fueled the audacity and open display of provocative arrogance by Labour Party led Abia State government, which had predicted the possible outcome of the judgement and switched into an excitement and celebration mood, a week before verdict.
“Regrettably, the Abia Election Petition Tribunal could not brush-off or borrow courage to defeat intimidation in order to deliver justice as exemplified recently, by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal”.
The party chairman called on Abia APC faithful and teaming supporters, and the good people of Abia to remain call and “keep faith in the judiciary and be of good courage as all hope is not lost”.
“We will not be deterred by this temporary setback. We are confident that in the end, justice and rule of law will prevail, having the knowledge that ‘though the wheels of justice turn slowly, it grinds exceedingly fine’”.