Reprieve came the way of the Governor-elect of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, Tuesday when the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in the state ruled it could not entertain issues relating to his alleged involvement in multiple registration.
The tribunal, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), also struck out the petition of Dr. Chike Obidigbo, who is contesting the All Progressives Grand Alliance ticket with Obiano at the tribunal.
While Obiano emerged on the platform of the Victor Umeh-led faction of APGA, the Maxi Okwu-led faction produced Obidigbo.
The tribunal held in its ruling on an application in which Obiano asked the tribunal to strike out aspects of the petition, including the paragraph on the said multiple registration, filed by governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Tony Nwoye, that the issue of multiple registration had already been determined by a High Court in the state, which bars the tribunal from reopening the matter.
The panel said the Electoral Act states that multiple registration is a criminal offence. But in the case of Obiano, he had not been convicted over the offence and therefore it could not be held against him.
It said supplying false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not enough to disqualify a person from contesting an elective position unless a court disqualifies the person.
Justice Akintola Akiniyi, who read the ruling, said the issue of multiple registration and that of underage registration and voting were pre-election matters and the tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain them.
â€œConsequently, that paragraph of the election petition relating to pre-election matters, the said affected paragraphs are hereby struck out,â€ the panel held.
Obidigbo had prayed the tribunal to let him be joined as a respondent in all the petitions filed against the election of Obiano.
But the tribunal ruled that apart from the issue of time limitation catching up with the applicant, Obidigbo was not found in any of the bodies of all the petitions before the tribunal.