The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu State on Thursday upheld the election of Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State.
Mbah, who contested the poll under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared winner of the March 18 guber poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to INEC, Mbah polled 160,895 votes to defeat his closest challenger and the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, who scored 157,552 votes.
In the election, Frank Nweke Jr. of the All Progressives Grand Alliance got 17,983 votes to come third, while the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Uche Nnaji, came fourth, with 14,575 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the poll, Edeoga filed a petition at the tribunal challenging the victory of Mbah.
In his petition, the LP candidate prayed to the tribunal to void the election of Mbah for submitting a forged discharge certificate from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The three-member tribunal headed by Kudirat Akano, while delivering judgement, dismissed the petition for being incompetent.
Mrs Akano, the chairperson of the panel, read out the judgment.
The tribunal held that the petitioner, Edeoga, failed to prove his allegation that the PDP candidate, Mr Mbah, submitted the forged certificate to INEC.
It ruled that the NYSC discharge certificate, assuming it was indeed forged, was not among the requirements for the qualifications of a person for the office of the governor in line with Sections 177 and 138 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The tribunal held that Mbah was qualified to contest the election even without submitting any NYSC discharge certificate, adding that a Senior Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent is a minimum academic qualification for election for the office of the governor in line with Section 177 of the constitution.
The tribunal said that given that Mbah did not submit the certificate in “aid of his qualification” for the office, his election could not be voided on the grounds of non-qualification.
Justice Akano also ruled that Mbah, contrary to the allegation by Mr Edeoga, scored the highest number of lawful votes in the election in compliance with the electoral law.
The tribunal further held that the petitioner also failed to prove that there was non-use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) during the election in Nkanu East Local Government Area.
Earlier, the tribunal had dismissed the petition by the candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party, Christopher Agu, for being incompetent.
It ruled the petitioner failed to prove that Mbah forged his NYSC discharge certificate to INEC.