A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, has upturned the judgment of the National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Bayelsa State, which nullified the election of the member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, Fred Agbedi.
The panel headed by Justice Muhammed Shuaibu in a ruling on Saturday affirmed the election of Agbedi, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 2023 National Assembly polls.
The panel, which also includes Justice Habeeb Abiru and Justice Abdul-Azeez Waziri, dismissed as unmeritorious the appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Michael Olomu.
The panel determined two cross-appeals filed before it by Agbedi and Olomu, respectively, following the tribunal’s ruling on September 7 in the petition marked EPT/BY/HR/01/2023 that was filed by the APC candidate challenging the election of the PDP candidate.
Besides setting aside the legislator’s election, the tribunal also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw his certificate of return and conduct a supplementary polls within 90 days in 17 polling units of wards 10, 11 and 12 of Ekeremor LGA; and six polling units of ward 11 and all the polling units in ward 5 of Sagbama LGA.
The tribunal also held that the total number of registered voters in the affected polling units and wards in both LGAs totaling 26,471 were deemed to have been disenfranchised during the polls as a result of violence.
However, the appellate court in the lead judgment read by Justice Abiru discountenanced the APC candidate’s appeal for lacking in merit.
It upheld the PDP candidate’s appeal on the grounds that the court of first instance (the tribunal) ought to have relied on the number of Permanent Voter Cards collected and not the number of registered voters in the federal constituency, to determine the case.
The court therefore dismissed the petitioner’s appeal and returned the PDP candidate to the House of Representatives.
Recall that INEC had issued a certificate of return to Agbedi having declared him as the winner of the election polling a total of 21,430 votes, while Olomu scored a total of 8,899 votes.