Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the 2023 governorship election in Ebonyi State, Bernard Odoh, has dragged the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Francis Nwifuru, before the Election Petitions Tribunal seeking his disqualification on the grounds of certificate forgery and ineligibility to stand for the election.
Nwifuru was declared winner of the said election which held on 18th March by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC also declared Ifeanyi Odii of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the first runners up while Mr Odoh was declared the second runners-up.
The electoral umpire also went ahead to issue Mr Nwifuru a Certificate of Return as Governor-Elect.
But both Odoh and Odii rejected the results and vowed to challenge the outcome at the Tribunal.
Mr Odoh, in his petition to the Tribunal, is urging it to disqualify Mr Nwifuru who was declared winner of the said election and also to nullify the said Certificate of return issued to him.
Odoh, a geophysics professor, is of the opinion that Mr Nwifuru, at the time of the election was still a member of the PDP and as such was not eligible to be sponsored for the election by the APC.
He averred that Nwifuru therefore was not qualified to contest the election to the office of the Governor of Ebony State as he belonged to two political parties, which he argued is unconstitutional.
He further alleged that Nwifuru was not qualified to stand for the election as he allegedly submitted fake certificate to INEC.
Mr Odoh therefore prayed the Tribunal to nullify the said election to the office of the Governor of Ebony State held on March 18, 2023.
He also urged the Tribunal to order for a second election pursuant to section 179 (3) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended into the office of the Governor of Ebonyi State.
Mr Odoh further urged the Tribunal to declare that the said fresh election should be held between the two candidates who scored the highest number of votes at the election held on the 18th of March 2023.
The APGA candidate also prayed the court for an Order nullifying and/or setting aside the Certificate of Return issued by the INEC to Mr Nwifuru.