The Appeal Court sitting in Lagos has upheld the decision of the Imo State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Mararaba, Nasarawa State, and declared Hon. Chike Okafor winner of the Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma, Obowo Federal Constituency election in Imo State.
The three-man panel comprising Justice B.A. Georgewill, Justice B. B. Aliyu and Justice J. Folashade-Ojo, held that the tribunal was right in judgement, thus the appeal lacked merit.
Thr tribunal, in Petition No EPT/IM/HR/13/2024, had nullified the return of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Hon Jonas Okeke as the House of Representatives member for Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma, Obowo Federal Constituency in Imo State.
In a unanimous decision the three-man panel comprising Justice Anthony Olotu Akpovi (Chairman), Justice Usman A.S Kudu, and Justice Ibrahim Mohammed had declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress Party (APC) Hon. Okafor, as the duly elected candidate of the election conducted on 25th February, 2023.
Okafor is an economist, investment banker, former Commissioner for Finance, Imo State and a two-term federal lawmaker, who served as the 8th Assembly Chairman, Committee on Healthcare Services, Chairman Adhoc Committee on Non Oil Revenue and Remittances, and a very key member of the Committees of Appropriation, Finance, Banking and Currency, among others in the 9th Assembly
He challenged the declaration of Jonas Okeke by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the election on the grounds that the respondent was not duly sponsored and qualified to contest the election under the candidacy of the PDP.
In its judgment on the petition, the tribunal agreed with the petitioner that the candidate of the PDP was not qualified to contest the election, and subsequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Jonas Okeke, and issue same to Hon Chike Okafor.
Reacting to the Tribunal verdict, Hon. Okafor expressed satisfaction with the unanimous decision of the Honourable Justices of the Appeal Court to restore the mandate of the people of Ehime Mbano, Ihitte-Uboma and Obowo federal Constituency, freely given, on that fateful Saturday, in February 2023.
He also extended his gratitude to the APC, especially, in Imo State, for entrusting him with the ticket and to his numerous supporters for their untiring followership and belief in his capacity to deliver the dividends of democracy to his immediate constituency.
He said he could hardly wait to join the 10th National Assembly to forge ahead with the drive to make the country better.
Finally, he declared that there would be no celebration of the victory by his team, until the November 11, 2023 Imo governorship election is conclusively won by Governor Hope Uzodimma, the leader of APC in the State.