Supreme Court Affirms Governor Mbah’s Victory, Dismisses Appeal as Incompetent
In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has upheld the election victory of Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State, rejecting an appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Uche Nnaji. The unanimous decision by a five-member panel of Justices deemed the appeal as incompetent.
Justice Tijani Abubakar, who authored the lead judgment, declared that Nnaji and the APC had submitted an invalid brief of argument. The court further emphasized that the appellants failed to provide substantial grounds to justify the reliance on their flawed submission in their attempt to challenge Governor Mbah’s election victory.
The apex court’s ruling held that the inadequacy of the appellants’ brief of argument had a detrimental impact on the substantive appeal. Consequently, the case of the appellants was dismissed for being incompetent.
This ruling follows a previous decision by the Court of Appeal in Enugu on July 18, which also dismissed Nnaji’s case against Governor Mbah. The appellate court upheld the verdict of the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which had affirmed Governor Mbah’s election win. Additionally, the appellate court imposed a cost of N250,000 each on Nnaji and the APC.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Governor Mbah the winner of the gubernatorial poll in Enugu State, with 160,895 votes. He defeated Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party (LP), who secured 157,552 votes. Frank Nweke Jnr. of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) came third with 17,983 votes, while Nnaji finished fourth with 14,575 votes.
Nnaji’s dissatisfaction with the election outcome led to his petition challenging Governor Mbah’s victory. He alleged that Mbah was ineligible to contest due to the submission of a forged certificate to INEC. Nnaji also contended that Mbah did not secure the majority of lawful votes during the election. He sought the tribunal to disqualify Mbah, Edeoga, and Nweke and either declare himself the winner or order a runoff election, excluding Mbah and the PDP.
However, the Enugu State governorship election petition tribunal dismissed Nnaji’s petition on June 20, citing non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022. Unsatisfied, Nnaji proceeded to the appellate court to challenge the tribunal’s decision, which, as per the latest ruling, was also rejected.
This decision by the Supreme Court solidifies Governor Peter Mbah’s position as the rightful winner of the Enugu State gubernatorial election, bringing an end to the legal battle that followed his victory.