The Supreme Court has affirmed the election of Alex Otti as the governor of Abia State in the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
In its lead judgement that was read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, the apex court held that the appeals of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Okey Ahiwe, and his counterpart in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ikechi Emenike, brought before it lacked merit.
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The apex court held that there was no legal basis to tamper with the concurrent findings of the Abia State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which earlier upheld Otti’s election.
According to the apex court, the argument of the appellants that Otti was not a bona fide member of the Labour Party (LP) at the time the governorship election was held was immaterial in the face of Section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It held that since Otti did not stand for the election as an independent candidate, there was no doubt that he was nominated and sponsored by a political party.
The court waved aside the contention that Otti’s name was not on the membership list of his party. The law mandates the LP to submit to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), at least 30 days before its governorship primary election.
The Supreme Court held that even if Otti’s name was not on the said membership list, the PDP and its candidate lacked the locus standi to challenge the matter in court, as doing so would amount to “crying more than the bereaved.”
It held that issues bordering on the nomination and sponsorship of a candidate in an election were a domestic affair of a political party, which the law forbids courts from meddling into.
The court held that the appeals contained issues that predated the governorship election and had become statute-barred.
Consequently, it dismissed the appeals and affirmed Otti’s victory at the March 18, 2023 poll.