The National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections petition tribunal in Ondo state has nullified the election of Ikengboju Gboluga representing Okitipupa-Irele federal constituency over ineligibility to contest the 2019 House of Representatives election.
Gboluga, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared winner of the February 23 National Assembly election for the constituency.
The three-man panel headed by Justice Nuhu Adi directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw Gboluga’s certificate of return and issue another one to the petitioner, Albert Akintoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was the first runner-up in the election.
The petitioner had prayed the tribunal to declare him winner of the election on two grounds:
“That the first respondent, Gboluga Ikengboju was not validly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast.
“He was not eligible to stand for the election having sworn to an oath of allegiance to the United Kingdom as enunciated by Section 66 subsection one of the 1999 Constitution.”
While resolving the two issues for determination, the tribunal in the judgment read by the Chairman, Justice Nuhu Adi said the evidences of 15 witnesses called by the petitioner, including himself were not sufficient to prove that the grounds of non-compliance with the electoral laws substantially affected the conduct and outcome of the election
On the second issue, Justice Adi said Gboluga’s counsel did not oppose the evidence tendered by the petitioner that the PDP lawmaker swore to an oath of allegiance to the United Kingdom.
He said in line with extant laws the tribunal was convinced that Gboluga was not eligible to run for the election and therefore nullified his victory.
The judge, therefore, ordered INEC to issue the petitioner a Certificate of Return to the APC candidate as the first runner up since the votes credited to Ikengboju had been a waste.
The petitioner and the leadership of the APC in Ondo state have, however, urged INEC to do the needful on the judgement.