The Abia State governorship election petition tribunal has issued a judgment affirming Alex Otti as the duly elected governor of the state.
The tribunal’s decision comes in response to a petition filed by Okey Ahiwe, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging Otti’s election victory.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had initially declared Alex Otti, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), as the winner of the Abia State governorship election.
Otti secured 175,466 votes, while Ahiwe garnered 88,529 votes.
In their petition, Ahiwe and the PDP had raised concerns about Otti’s eligibility to run for the election, claiming that he was not a registered member of the LP and that he had forged his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
However, in its judgment, the tribunal, presided over by G. Gwadah, ruled in favor of Otti, stating that the petitioners had failed to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate their allegations against the respondents.
Gwadah clarified that the question of Otti’s qualification to contest the election was a pre-election matter that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate.
Additionally, the tribunal emphasized that the NYSC status of a candidate was not a determining factor for qualification or disqualification.
Furthermore, the tribunal pointed out that none of the witnesses presented by the petitioners offered testimony on the documents they had submitted to support their allegations of over-voting, rendering those documents of no evidential value.
As a result, the election petition tribunal dismissed the petition and affirmed Alex Otti’s election as the governor of Abia State.