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Tribunal orders APC senatorial candidate to pay Ekweremadu N750,000

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The emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the winner of the February 23 senatorial election for Enugu West has been affirmed by the State and National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal.

The tribunal, sitting in Enugu and headed by Justice Haruna Kereng affirmed his emergence on Monday.

It had sacked the petition brought against Ekweremadu by Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for lack of merit.

Justice Kereng had said while delivering the judgment that the petitioners completely failed to prove their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

The petitioner had among other things claimed there were non-compliance to Electoral Act during the election, falsification of figures and other electoral irregularities.

But Kereng said those allegations needed to have been proven polling unit by polling unit, adding that even the few polling unit witnesses brought by the petitioners failed to demonstrate to the tribunal how the election figures were falsified.

According to him, out of the 824 polling units, 81 wards and five local government areas in the state, the petitioners were only able to present 16 witnesses with most of them presenting testimonies that were not convincing.

He said, “INEC had declared Ekweremadu winner with 86,088 votes against 15,187 scored by Ibekaku-Nwagwu. It is the responsibility of the petitioners to bring their polling unit agents to demonstrate to us how over 70,000 votes will be deducted from the score of the first respondent to make them winners.

“They only presented witnesses in a few polling units and wards.”

He further held that the petitioners should have pleaded two sets of results, including the wrong and correct results that would have returned them as winners.

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He noted that certain paragraphs of their petition contained criminal allegations and that the persons whom the allegations were made against remained hidden.

He then declared, “Having failed woefully to prove their allegations that the first respondent (Ekweremadu) was not elected by a majority of the lawful vote cast, we, therefore, affirm the election of the first respondent as the winner of the election.”

Kereng awarded a cost of N750,000 against the petitioners.

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