By Grace Chigbu
Marraba, Nassarawa State – The National Assembly Election Petition of Imo State, held at the High Court Premises in Marraba, Nassarawa State, has officially declared Senator Osita Izunaso of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected senator for Imo West (Orlu Zone). This definitive judgement follows a contentious legal battle initiated by Charlse Ahize against Izunaso.
Ahize, representing the Labour Party, had filed a suite claiming discrepancies in the election results. However, in a dramatic turn of events, the court dismissed his petition today. The judgement echoed that all evidence presented by Ahize and the Labour Party was deemed as “black-market evidence” and was hence inadmissible. This declaration puts an end to weeks of political tensions and speculations in Imo State.
Furthermore, allegations by Ahize and the Labour Party that the election results were manipulated in favour of Izunaso were rebuffed. The court stated, “All documents by Ahize and LP were merely dumped on the court and therefore hold no evidential value.” It was a harsh critique of the Labour Party’s legal strategy, rendering their entire case meritless.
The lead counsels in the case were Dr. Nelson Ezerioha for Charlse Ahize & the Labour Party, Chief Eze Okafor for Senator Osita Izunaso, and N. Epele for the APC. Surprisingly, there was no representation for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the court.
Izunaso’s victory is not just a personal triumph but a vindication for his party, APC, and the people of Orlu Zone. The decision upholds the initial mandate given by the Orlu people to Senator Izunaso. As the news broke, there was a palpable sense of jubilation among Izunaso’s supporters, echoing the sentiment that justice had been served.
Commenting on the victory, Chief Barr Eze Okafor, head of the legal team to Senator Osita Izunaso, stated, “Sen Osita Izunaso’s victory is a sweet judgement. The mandate of Orlu people to Sen Izunaso OFR has been validated by the election petition Tribunal today.” Okafor, reporting from the court in Nassarawa State, also extended his hearty congratulations to Senator Izunaso, his dedicated legal team, and the people of Orlu Zone for their unwavering faith and support throughout the legal proceedings.
This ruling sets a precedent on the importance of concrete evidence in election petitions. The court’s decision to dismiss what it described as “black-market evidence” underscores the necessity for parties to approach legal battles with well-documented and verifiable evidence. The outcome of this case will likely be studied by legal and political experts for years to come, offering insights into the nuances of Nigeria’s electoral justice system.
While the atmosphere is jubilant for the supporters of Izunaso, it is undoubtedly a moment of reflection for Ahize and the Labour Party. Their claims, which were rejected as having no evidential value, have led to public questioning of their motives behind initiating the legal challenge. Political analysts are keenly observing what steps the Labour Party might take following this legal setback.
Full details of the judgment are expected to be released soon, providing an in-depth understanding of the court’s decision. The broader implications of this ruling on the political landscape of Imo State and the nation remain to be seen.
For now, the focus remains on Senator Osita Izunaso, who has emerged from this legal battle stronger and with his mandate firmly intact, ready to serve the people of Imo West.