Supreme Court Upholds Governor Mbah’s Election, Dismisses Labour Party’s Appeal

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has affirmed the electoral victory of Peter Mbah, the incumbent governor of Enugu State. The court, comprising a panel of five justices, unanimously dismissed an appeal lodged by the Labour Party (LP) and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, who had contested the results of the gubernatorial election that took place on March 18.

The Supreme Court found no basis to question the concurrent decisions of the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Lagos Court of Appeal, both of which had previously dismissed all allegations levelled against Governor Mbah’s electoral triumph for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Supreme Court examined and resolved all the issues raised in the appeal, delivering a ruling unfavorable to the LP and Edeoga. It’s noteworthy that the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal had earlier upheld Governor Mbah’s election on November 10, dismissing three issues raised by the LP and Edeoga.

In a unanimous decision, a triad of judges from the appellate court, spearheaded by Justice Tani Yusuf-Hassan, determined that Edeoga and his party were unable to substantiate their claim that Governor Mbah was ineligible to participate in the gubernatorial election.

The Supreme Court recognized the appellants’ claim of widespread over-voting in areas favoring Mbah but highlighted their failure to produce the voter register used in the election as evidence.

The appellate court concluded that the LP and its candidate did not present compelling reasons to overturn the initial verdict of the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which had dismissed their case.

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Consequently, the appeal was dismissed due to lack of merit, and Mbah was affirmed as the legitimate winner of the governorship election. Dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate court, Edeoga escalated the matter to the Supreme Court, where he also met with defeat.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier declared Mbah of the PDP the victor of the gubernatorial race after he amassed a total of 160,895 votes. Edeoga of the LP trailed in second place with 157,552 votes, while Frank Nweke of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) garnered 17,983 votes to finish third.

Discontented with the results announced by INEC, Edeoga and his party lodged a petition challenging Mbah’s victory. They contended that they had secured the highest number of valid votes in the election and should have been declared the winners instead of Mbah of the PDP.

Among other allegations, the LP and its candidate accused Mbah of being ineligible to participate in the election, alleging that he submitted a forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Certificate to INEC to aid his qualification.

However, on September 9, the tribunal, led by Justice K.M. Akano, dismissed this allegation, emphasizing that the PDP candidate fulfilled the minimum requirements for the election, which included possessing a school certificate or its equivalent.

Moreover, the tribunal stated that the issue of forgery, being a criminal allegation, needed to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It also dismissed the testimony of some witnesses, stating that their evidence was inadmissible since their statements on oath were not filed with the petition.