The Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has again been declared the validly elected governor ofImoStatein the 2011 governorship election.
Delivering judgment on Friday, January 6th on the appeal brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP challenging the declaration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the winner of the supplementary governorship election conducted on May 6th, 2011, Justice Tijani Abdullahi who led other Justices of the court upheld Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the validly elected governor of Imo State.
Justice Abdullahi said: “after a careful consideration of the preliminary objection filed by the appellants, we hold that it lacks merit and is hereby dismissed”. The court awarded cost of N50,000 against the appellants.
Justice Abdullahi said that the reason for the decision would be given on a date to be communicated to all the counsel on the suit.
Reacting to the judgment, the counsel to INEC, Dr.Onyechi Ikpeazu, (SAN), applauded the ruling of court and said that the Court of Appeal had upheld the right of INEC to postpone an election where the final result had not been declared.
The counsel to Governor Okorocha, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), and the Imo State Commissioner for Information, Dr Obinna Duruji (SAN), was also full of praises for the substantive justice which the judgment of the Court of Appeal represented.
It is pertinent to state that the Imo State Governorship Election Tribunal had in its ruling of Saturday 12th November 2011 struck out the prayers of PDP to declare the supplementary election held on the 6th May 2011 was invalid being in breach of the provisions of both the Electoral Art of 2010 (as amended) and the 1999 Constitution (as amendid). The Election Petition Tribunal headed by Justice E.N. Kpojime, in its unanimous judgment on that suit held that “the petition lacks merit, and is accordily dismissed|”. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the PDP appealed to the Court of Appeal, an appeal which has now been disallowed for lack of merit. It is not yet known if PDP will appeal to the Supreme Court.
JOHN I. MGBE