An Election Tribunal sitting in Anambra on Tuesday ruled that it could not entertain issues relating to alleged involvement in multiple registration by the Anambra State's Governor-elect, Chief Willie Obiano.
The tribunal also struck out the petition of Dr. Chike Obidigbo, who is contesting the All Progressives Grand Alliance ticket with Obiano at the tribunal.
While Obiano emerged on the ticket of the Victor Umeh-led faction of APGA’s ticket, the Maxi Okwu-led faction produced Obidigbo.
The tribunal held in its ruling on application of Obiano, praying the tribunal to strike out aspects of the petition, including the paragraph on the said multiple registration, filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Tony Nwoye, that the issues of multiple registration had already been determined by a High Court in the state, which bars the tribunal from reopening the matter.
The panel said the Electoral Act stated that multiple registration was not a criminal offence and in the case of Obiano, he had not been convicted of the offence, and therefore, it could not be used against him.
It said that supplying false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission was not enough to disqualify a person from contesting for an elective position unless a court disqualified the individual.
Justice Akintola Akiniyi, who read the ruling, said the issue of multiple registration and that of underage registration and voting are pre-election matters and the tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain them.
“Consequently, that paragraph of the election petition relating to pre-election matters, the said affected paragraphs are hereby struck out,” the panel held.
Obidigbo had prayed the tribunal to let him be joined as a respondent in all the petitions filed against the election of Obiano.
But the tribunal ruled that apart from the issue of time limitation catching with the applicant, Obidigbo was nowhere found in any of the bodies of all the petitions before the tribunal.
Justice Belo Usman, Chairman of the tribunal, who delivered the pre-trial ruling, declared that the decisions of the tribunal on the petition would therefore not affect Obidigbo.
Responding to the ruling, Chief Victor Umeh said it had cleared the way for the swearing in and inauguration of Obiano on March 17.