The Labour Party, LP, has rejected the judgement of the Enugu State governorship election petition tribunal which affirmed the declaration of Peter Mbah as winner of the March 18 election. According to the party, the September 21 judgement “against Labour Party is absurd, (and) stark reality of future of judiciary in Nigeria.”
In a statement signed by Julius Abure, national chairman, the party said it was horrified by the tribunal judgement, which he described as ‘ridiculous.
“Labour Party today watched in horror as another absurdity played out in Enugu where the Governorship Election Tribunal dismissed allegations of NYSC certificate forgery against the PDP candidate, Peter Mbah. The tribunal also struck out our party’s allegation of over-voting, bypass of BVAS, while insisting that Peter Mbah was duly elected as governor by majority of lawful and valid votes cast at the election.”
The LP said they would seek redress at the Appeal Court “immediately knowing that justice was miscarried in this particular case, and that the tribunal judgement cannot stand.”
Upset by the performance of the judiciary, the party said “We are worried about the level of degeneration in our judiciary where ridiculous rulings are frequently churned out from the hallowed temple of justice.
“Our case before the tribunal was a clear case of electoral robbery where we pointed out that in Enugu, after the collation of 16 LGAs out of the 17 LGAs of the state, our candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, was leading with over 11,000 votes. Surprisingly, the PDP in Enugu, working in cahoots with the INEC, shockingly and provocatively wrote and awarded to the PDP a whopping 30,000 votes at Nkanu East LGA, the LGA of the PDP candidate.
“We pointed out that the figures from the INEC BVAS, Nkanu East LGA recorded a total number of 15,000 accredited voters on election day. However, when votes were declared, the PDP was allocated a total number of 30,350 votes while a total number of 1,855 was credited to the Labour Party. So, we asked how INEC could have turned out over 33,000 votes in a place where only about 15,000 voters were accredited.
“We had also asked the tribunal to disqualify the PDP candidate for presenting a fake NYSC certificate. The authority of NYSC confirmed that the PDP candidate absconded from service and that the certificate he parades was not issued by them. Doesn’t that seem like an open and close case, yet the tribunal saw nothing in a clear case of electoral forgery and perjury.”
Abure, who is also a lawyer, alleged that “In the wake of this judgement, we were aware of a series of visits made by Mbah to Aso Rock, and we also took note of his level of confidence lately. However, we had ignored these ominous signs while hoping that the blind Lady of Justice will act impartially but we are shocked with this judicial endorsement.
“Labour Party may be weeping today for this travesty of justice meted at us, but we do not know whose turn it would be tomorrow. Evil, they say, triumphs when the righteous keep silent, and when they refuse to condemn it. We also think that the judiciary has a key role to play in keeping our democracy alive and safe. We therefore call for a concerted effort by all well-meaning Nigerians to guide this all-important arm of government and ensure that it is not captured by the state. We must all rise to save our democracy.”
Similarly, Chijioke Edeoga, the party’s gubernatorial candidate, stated that “our preparedness to challenge the outcome of this judgement at the Court of Appeal, and to all extents as permitted by law. To this end, we urge our supporters across the state and in other parts of the country to remain calm, law-abiding, and to go about their businesses without fear or hindrance.
“We retain a firm belief in the justice system and will go the full extent legally possible in ensuring that the hopes of Enugu people who turned out in their numbers to vote for Labour Party candidates on March 18, 2023, are realised.”
Governor Peter Mbah on the other hand, said it was victory for democracy as he celebrated his victory in Enugu with his exuberant supporters.
“This is another memorable day in the annals of our dear state, as the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal affirmed the mandate, which you freely gave to us on 18th of March this year. This is victory for Ndi Enugu. It is also victory for democracy.
“It is a victory for massive development for Ndi Enugu. It is a victory for exponential growth for Ndi Enugu. It is a victory for Enugu’s greatness. It is a victory for the ban on Monday sit-at-home. It is also victory for our determination to restore water in all your homes in the next 68 days”.
He commended the tribunal for being painstaking and “coming out with fair and just decision that resonates with Ndi Enugu. The verdict has further strengthened our confidence in the judiciary as the temple of justice and the last hope of the common man.
“There is time for everything under the sun. There is time to strive, and a time to unite. We all put ourselves forward to serve Ndi Enugu. The people have spoken, and the tribunal has also affirmed. If service was the motivation, then it is time to rise above partisanship and come together because there is so much work to be done. Our arms are wide open, and I beckon on my brothers, who ran this race with us, to join us in the onerous task of building a new Enugu State of our dreams.”
To Enugu people, Mbah reaffirmed, “I want to assure them that I will work for them with every fibre of my being. I stand by every campaign promise I made as espoused in our Statement of Purpose. I also stand by the Citizens Charter that I executed on my first day in office. The Enugu people should hold me to account. I will not let them down.”