The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Asaba, Delta State, has invalidated the election of Mr. Ngozi Okolie, the member representing Aniocha/Oshimili Constituency at the House of Representatives. Okolie, who was declared the winner of the February 25 House of Representatives election in the federal constituency by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has been disqualified and removed from his position.
The petition challenging Okolie’s victory was filed by the immediate past Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ndidi Elumelu. Elumelu contested the results, arguing that Okolie was not properly sponsored by the Labour Party and that he did not resign from his position as a public office holder, which would have made him ineligible to run for the election.
The three-member tribunal panel, led by Justice A.Z. Mussa, upheld Elumelu’s claims and ruled in his favour. The tribunal stated that Okolie was not duly sponsored by the Labour Party and was not a member of the party as of May 28, 2022, the date of the purported party primaries. Moreover, the tribunal found that Okolie did not resign from his public office before contesting the election.
Andrew Osemenem, the Counsel for the petitioner, spoke to journalists after the ruling and explained the grounds on which the petition was founded. He emphasized that the Labour Party candidate was not a party member during the purported primary election on May 28, 2022, and that there was no evidence of sponsorship or proper party primaries conducted for the National Assembly Election.
Osemenem further pointed out that the Constitution, specifically Sections 65 and 66, requires that a person seeking to contest an election into the House of Representatives must belong to a political party and be sponsored by that party. Since Okolie was not duly sponsored by the Labour Party due to the lack of a valid primary, and he did not resign from his public office before running, the tribunal concluded that his election was null and void.
Consequently, the tribunal declared Ndudi Elumelu, who was the first runner-up in the election, as the rightful winner and duly returned him as the representative for the Aniocha/Oshimili Constituency at the House of Representatives.
With this ruling, the political landscape in the constituency is set to change, and Ndudi Elumelu will assume his position as the representative of the people in the National Assembly. The nullification of Okolie’s election serves as a reminder of the importance of adherence to electoral rules and proper party sponsorship in Nigerian politics.