It was heartbreaking for Ikengboju Gboluga, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives member as the Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Akure, Ondo State Capital, nullified his election on Thursday.
Gboluga is representing Okitipupa/Irele constituency in the House of Reps.
The court nullified his election forswearing his allegiance to the United Kingdom (UK), having acquired the citizenship of the country.
The court emphasised that he was not eligible to contest for the Feb. 23, National Assembly election for his allegiance with the UK.
The three-man panel headed by Justice Nuhu Adi also declared Albert Akintoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the election and ordered the electoral commission to issue Certificate of Return to Akintoye after withdrawing same from Gboluga.
The petitioner wanted the tribunal to declare him the winner of the election on the ground that the first respondent, Gboluga Ikengboju was not validly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast.
Besides, he said Gboluga was not eligible to stand for the election having sworn to an oath of allegiance to the United Kingdom as enunciated by Section 66 sub-section one of the 1999 constitutions.
The tribunal chairman, Justice Nuhu Adi, said evidence 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
Justice Adi also said Ikengboju’s counsel did not oppose the evidence tendered by the petitioner that the PDP lawmaker swore to an oath of allegiance to the UK.
He said in line with extant laws, the tribunal was convinced that Ikengboju was not eligible to run for the election and therefore, nullified his victory
He, therefore, ordered INEC to issue the petitioner a certificate of return as the first runner up since the votes credited to Ikengboju had been a waste.
Akintoye expressed gratitude to the Ondo Elections Petition tribunal for upholding his prayers to be declared the winner of the February 2019 house of representatives election.
He said his victory showed rule of law at work and expressed readiness for further actions on the judgement by the respondents.
However, counsel to Ikengboju, Olumide Ogunje, said his client would appeal the judgement.
The state chairman of APC in the state, Ade Adetimehin, lauded the tribunal’s judgement and hailed the resilience of Akintoye to reclaim his mandate in court.
He said the victory has swelled the ranks of the APC, particularly in the national assembly.
Adetimehin appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately issue a certificate of return to Akintoye as directed by the tribunal.