Just as this was happening, another tribunal also sitting in Owerri upheld the election of Hon. Ezenwa Onyewuchi as the member representing Owerri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives following the striking out of the petitions of the candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Social Democratic Party, SDP in the March 28, 2015, National Assembly elections in the constituency namely: Hon. Chuks Ololo and Earnest Ibejiako respectively.
Delivering Judgment in the petition filed by the candidate of the Accord Party for the March 28, 2015 Okigwe senatorial poll, Mrs. Rita Ibemere Okoroafor challenging the unlawful exclusion of her party logo and symbol from the customized ballot paper for her senatorial zone and further claim that the unlawful exclusion vitiated substantial compliance of the said election with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, the tribunal ruled that the Accord Party candidate proved her case beyond all reasonable doubt.
Reading the judgment on behalf of other tribunal members, Hon. Justice Garba I.B argued that the tribunal had no option than to accede to the petitioner’s request to nullify the poll because her witnesses and evidence before the court were consistent and established beyond all reasonable doubts that she was not only unlawfully excluded but also that the election did not meet substantial compliance as demanded by 2010 Electoral Act as amended.
The tribunal also described as totally unacceptable INEC’s claim that it rectified the omission by using the customized ballot for Imo East (Owerri Zone) following its discovery two days to the election that the logo and symbol of Accord Party was missing as the court noted that the attempt was akin to digging a new pit to fill an old one since it would have resulted in the unlawful exclusion of parties whose logos and symbols were omitted in Imo East (Owerri Zone) ballot paper.
Consequent upon the above illegal and unconstitutional breaches the court accordingly upheld the petition on its merit and ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in which the petitioner as the duly nominated candidate of her party would participate in within 90 days from the date of the judgment.
While it was tears galore for the large crowd of supporters of Senator Achonu, It was excitement galore for the lawmaker representing Owerri Federal Constituency in the House of Reps, Hon. Onyewuchi and his supporters following the affirmation of his victory in the March 28 Owerri Federal Constituency, House of Representatives election.
Delivering judgment in the petitions brought before it by Hon. Ernest Ibejiakor (SDP), and Eng. Chucks Ololo of APC, the tribunal argued that in law the onus of proof of criminal and corrupt allegations rest on the party alleging, adding however, that in the matters before it the two petitioners have not been able to fulfill this fundamental requirement.
The tribunal held that their petitions were mere speculative, vague and lacking in merit and therefore not convincing enough to warrant the cancellation of the election of March 28, 2015 in the Owerri Federal Constituency and were accordingly struck out.