SEPA TO OTTI: DON'T APPEAL AGAINST TRIBUNAL JUDGEMENT
The South East Progressives Assembly(SEPA) has urged the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) Dr. Alex Otti to shun the idea of appealing against the ruling of Justice Usman Bwala-led Abia State Governorship Tribunal which dismissed his petition for failure to substantiate his allegations against the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
In a statement titled "Why Otti Should Not Appeal Against Abia Tribunal Judgement" signed by the president of SEPA, Ebere Uzoukwa and made available to newsmen, the group urged Otti "to dramatize his campaign mantra which says 'Abia First' at this very crucial moment by joining hands with his brother to rediscover the state in terms development".
The statement reads: "The South East Progressives Assembly(SEPA) wishes to rejoice with the good people of Abia State and their Governor, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D on their well deserved victory at the Election Petition Tribunal which upheld the election of the governor on Wednesday November 3, 2015.
The judicial ratification and endorsement of Dr. Ikpeazu's election as Governor of Abia State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) has become yet another clear testimony that the election of the Obingwa-born scholar is mostly divine and apt at this very crucial moment in the history of our nation.
Having showcased uncommon commitment and utmost desire to propel speedy socio-economic development of Abia state within a very short period of time by carefully marshaling out people-oriented policies and programmes, SEPA as a social organization and a political watch-dog in the south east remains convinced that Dr. Ikpeazu has substantially the needed qualities and capacity to rediscover Abia in terms of development.
We therefore enjoin the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), Dr. Alex Otti, to dramatize his campaign mantra which says 'Abia First' by not appealing against the judgment. SEPA at this critical moment expects the APGA governorship candidate to think 'Abia first' by joining hands with his brother Dr. Ikpeazu and Abia people to move the state to higher heights. Prolonging the legal battle such as appealing against the ruling of the Abia Governorship Election Petition Tribunal , which has the potency of further distracting the governor and his team, will neither portray Dr. Otti as a true son of Abia nor someone that truly thinks 'Abia first'.
In the spirit of no victor no vanquish, SEPA also admonishes the governor to extend hands of fellowship to his closest rival Dr. Otti and other members of the opposition to prove his magnanimity in victory".
Abia Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, yesterday, upheld the election of Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of the state.
In an 85-minute judgment delivered by the Chairman, Usman Bwala, the tribunal said the petitioners, Alex Otti and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), did not prove their claim to have won the election “beyond doubt.”
Bwala said the petitioners had on one hand, urged the court to nullify the election on grounds that it was marred by irregularities and massive fraud and on the other hand, sought that they should be declared winners of the same election.
He said the petitioners reckoned with the card reader as a means of accreditation during the election of April 11 but failed to agree with the use of voter’s register.
The tribunal further refused to grant the petitioners’ request to uphold the cancellation of the results of the election in Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala-Ngwa North Local Government Areas of the state.
Bwala said the State Returning Officer, Benjamin Ozumba, was not allowed under the law, to cancel the said results in the first place, hence, the subsequent reversal by him had no effect.
He said the onus lay heavily on the petitioners to prove beyond doubt that they won the election as they claimed in their petition.
Lead Counsel to Otti and APGA, Mr. Ndionyenma Nwankwo said the legal team would study the judgment and decide on the next line of action. Bwala said Otti and APGA failed to convince the tribunal beyond doubt that they won the election.