Ebonyi Bye-Election: Onu Drags Ani to Court Over Alleged Certificate Forgery

By Emma Anike, Abakaliki

The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ebonyi South Senatorial bye-election, Silas Onu has taken the All Progressive Congress (APC) Candidate, Senator Anthony Ani to court seeking his disqualification on grounds of certificate forgery and ineligibility to stand for the poll.

Mr Onu in the petition is also contending that the declaration of Mr Ani as winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is invalid by reasons of non-compliance to the electoral act. 

Mr Onu is the first petitioner while his party, PDP is the second petitioner. 

INEC, Mr Ani and his party, APC are the first, second and third respondents respectively.

Former Governor David Umahi who won the 2023 election to represent the zone resigned his position as senator upon his appointment as Minister by President Bola Tinubu. 

This prompted the National Assembly to declare the seat vacant and INEC conducting a bye-election on February 3, 2024 to fill the vacant seat. 

The Commission thereafter declared and returned Mr Ani as winner of the election with 46, 270 votes.

The commission declared Anthony Eleje candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as the first runner-up, while Mr Onu was declared as the second runner-up. 

INEC then proceeded to issue Mr Ani Certificate of Return as the Senator-elect after which he was sworn in as Senator.

But Onu rejected the result, vowing to challenge it at the tribunal.

Onu, in the petition to the tribunal, is urging it to disqualify Ani on grounds of forgery and inability to resign his position as a public servant before the said election.

He alleged that Mr Ani who is the second respondent presented forged brith certificate to the  first respondent (INEC) contrary to section 66 of the Constitution.

He also alleged that Mr Ani did not resign as a Lecturer at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) before the election as required for public servants.

According to him, while Mr Ani in documents submitted to INEC claimed to have resigned on 20th December, 2023, he however, continued to receive salaries after the said date of resignation.

“The Petitioners contend that the requirement for public servants who wishes to contest election into the Nigerian Senate to resign in-line with section 6 (1)(f) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is sacrosanct and cannot be waived or ignored”, the petitioners argued

Mr Onu and his party are also urging the Tribunal to declare the election as conducted in Afikpo local government area invalid due to over voting

They alleged that facts before them show that INEC failed to comply with the electoral act which prescribed cancellation of election results in polling units where number of votes exceeded number of accredited voters in the local government area.

Mr Onu and his party(PDP) are therefore urging the tribunal to issue ‘an order cancelling all the entire result of Afikpo North Local Government Area and declaring same as invalid votes’.

“An Order upholding the results from Afikpo South, Ivo, Ohaozara and Onicha Local Government Areas as the lawful valid votes for the election”

“That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election and that the return of the 2nd Respondents by the 1st Respondent is wrongful, unlawful, undue, null and void having not satisfied the requirements of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which mandatorily requires the 2nd Respondent to resign before contesting the election. Onu &Anor. Vs. INEC &Ors”

“That it may be determined that all votes cast for the 2nd and 3rd Respondents are wasted votes and therefore the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent by the 1s Respondent as the winner of the Ebonyi South Senatorial Bye-Election conducted on Saturday 3rd February, 2024 is unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, undue, null and void and of no effect whatsoever”

 Mr Onu is also praying the court to declare him as winner of the said election having secure majority of the lawful votes cast. 

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