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Court of Appeal Upholds Theodore Orji's Election

February 10, 2009

Image removed.A panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State led Justice Saka Ibiyeye gave a ruling today upholding the election of Abia State governor, Theodore Orji.

Court Declares Gov Orji Winner-PM News, Lagos

Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt

Justice Saka Ibiyeye of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt today declared the Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, winner of the April 2007 election.

Orji had appealed against the judgement of the State Election Petition Tribunal which nullified his election and declared his opponent, Onyema Ugochukwu, the duly elected governor.

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Justice Ibiyeye, who led other judges, in a unanimous judgement, upheld the election of Governor Orji, and awarded N50,000 cost against Ugochukwu.

Orji contested the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Abia State under the platform of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) against the People’s Democratic Party candidate, Ugochukwu.

While ruling on the appeal today, Justice Ibiyeye said it had been established that Governor Orji was not a member of any secret as it could not be proved that Okija was a secret society.

The court held that Okija shrine is an arbitration shrine, not a secret cult, adding that the evidence produced against Orji was inadmissible.

It also held that the governor was not bound to resign 30 days before contesting the governorship election since he was not a public office holder. The judge cited section 193 of the 1999 Constitution to buttress his point.

Governor Orji had appealed against the ruling of the lower tribunal which nullified his election and declared the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Onyema Ugochukwu as governor on 25 February, 2008.

Apparently not satisfied, Orji proceeded to the Appeal Court with a petition against the judgement.

Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Orji’s lawyer, had submitted that the question of the non declaration of result of the election remains the real issue up to the time the lower tribunal delivered the judgement and still remains an issue before the Appeal Court.

He urged the court to set aside the judgement of the lower tribunal.

However, Mr. Emma Ukala, counsel to Ugochukwu, said he adopted his earlier brief which he argued in its entirety and relied on it. He urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

Before today’s ruling, security was beefed up around the court premises while Moscow Road leading to the Appeal Court was cordoned off by armed policemen.

Cops frisked party supporters with metal detectors before allowing them into the court room.

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