Delta Tribunal Nullifies Rep’s Election: Elumelu Declared Winner

The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, seated in Asaba, Delta State, has made a significant decision by nullifying the election of Mr. Ngozi Okolie, the incumbent representative of Aniocha/Oshimili Constituency at the House of Representatives.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had previously declared Ngozi Okolie of the Labour Party (LP) as the winner of the House of Representatives election held on February 25 in the federal constituency.

However, Ndidi Elumelu, the immediate past Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenged the election result by filing a petition before the tribunal. In the petition (numbered EPT/DL/HR/06/2023), Elumelu alleged that Okolie was not properly sponsored by the Labour Party and failed to resign from his position as a public office holder before contesting the election.

The three-member tribunal panel, with Justice A.Z. Mussa presiding, delivered its ruling in favor of the petitioner. The tribunal found that Okolie was not legitimately sponsored by the Labour Party and was not a party member as of May 28, 2022, the purported date of the party’s primary. Additionally, the tribunal upheld the argument that Okolie did not resign from his public office before running for the elections.

As a result, the tribunal disqualified Ngozi Okolie and declared the runner-up in the election, Ndudi Elumelu of the PDP, as the rightful winner.

Speaking to reporters after the ruling, Andrew Osemenem, the counsel for the petitioner, reiterated that the grounds for the petition were solely focused on the issue of qualification.

“The petitioner founded his petition on one ground, and that is the ground of qualification.

“That ground, we said through the witnesses and documents that the Labour Party candidate was not a member of the Labour Party as of 28th of May, 2022 when they purportedly held primaries for the National Assembly Election.

“We also proved and the tribunal agreed with us that there were no primaries, there was no sponsorship, and the Labour Party did not conduct any primary into the NASS.

“Sections 65 and 66 of the constitution require that for a person to be qualified to contest election into the House of Representatives, he must belong to a political party and must be sponsored by that political party.

“In this instance, Okolie, the tribunal found that he was not duly sponsored by the Labour Party because there were no primaries. The second reason is as we urged the tribunal, the tribunal also found that Okolie was in public office, he did not resign.”

He added that “for these two reasons his election was nullified in line with Section 135 of the Electoral Act, Elumelu who was the first runner up, has been declared and returned as winner of that election.”

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