Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the April 11 Abia state governorship election and the April 25 supplementary election, has been sacked.
The court delivered judgement on the election petition in the last day of the year 2015.
According to the ruling, Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the winner of the election, ordered his immediate swearing-in.
The APGA candidate scored 164,444 valid votes to defeat Ikpeazu of the PDP, who secured 114,444 votes.
The Owerri-based five-member panel of the court of appeal was headed by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye.
The justice said the cancellation of the elections held in three local govenment areas, Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Isiala Ngwa, was unlawful. The returning officer has the right to only declare the results, but not to cancel the election.
Omoleye had previously struck out the preliminary objections by Ikpeazu’s (PDP) counsel to the effect that the appeal lacked merit. The court also affirmed the arguments of APGA’s counsel that the members of the panel were wrongfully constituted.
The justice noted that there was no need for a re-run, as the results of the polls show Otti is the genuine winner of the exercise, without any doubt.
The court directed the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue a certificate of return to Otti and conduct the swearing-in.
Oracle Nwali, a lawyer in Otti’s legal team, said the victory was “an end-of-the-year gift to the APGA”. He assured that the new governor would not disappoint the people of Abia.
Charles Esonu, the PDP secretary in Abia, said the sacked governor and his party would analyse the ruling and decide on the subsequent strategy.