A three-man panel of Appeal Court judges sitting in Lagos, Lagos State, yesterday upheld the decision of the Abia Election Petition Tribunal which had affirmed the governor of the state, Dr. Alex Otti as the winner of the March 18, 2023 Abia governorship election following his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals brought before it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their governorship candidates against the election of Governor Otti .
In a unanimous decision, the three-man Appeal Court panel upheld the victory of Otti at the polls, saying that it conformed with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The appellate court ruled that petitions brought by the appellants lacked merit, as they were like “a comedy skit brought to a democratic setting.”
The court said issues of political party membership is a pre-election matter, which also falls within the jurisdiction of the political party.
It further said that since Otti joined the Labour Party, won its primary election and submitted his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he was qualified to contest.
On the issues of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, brought by the PDP and its candidate, the Appeal Court said the appellants failed to demonstrate or link their documentary evidence to the specific parts of the case.
The judgement has sparked wild celebration among the supporters of Otti in some parts of the state.
In his reaction, the Abia State PDP governorship candidate in the 2023 general elections, Chief Okey Ahiwe, urged both his supporters and members of the PDP in the state not to panic, while expressing deep gratitude to God, his numerous supporters across political party lines, his dynamic legal team, family, friends, and well-wishers.
Meanwhile, Otti has revealed that the state government was engaging with leaderships and stakeholders of various worker’s unions in the state to fashion out ways on how to improve on the minimum wage of the state workers to align with the present economic realities.
The governor disclosed this during the 3rd edition of his monthly media chat held in Government House, Umuahia, the state capital.
According to him, the reason for adjusting the pay of the workers is because of the economic realities of the nation.
“We do understand that things are a bit more difficult for the people. We are engaging with stakeholders to see how we can improve on the pay of civil servants in line with the present economic realities; where exchange rates have converged upwards and fuel subsidy has been removed and inflation is heading to 30%.