Ethiope Federal Constituency: Igbakpa calls for calm, vows to appeal tribunal judgement
Facts are beginning to emerge why the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta State sacked the member representing Ethiope Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Benson Roland Igbakpa, declaring his opponent Hon. Halims Agoda of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the winner.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) earlier declared Igbakpa as the winner of the 2019 23rd February 2019 National Assembly Election for Ethiope Federal Constituency under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
His seat, the tribunal ruled on Friday, is to be taken over by his opponent and petitioner, Chief Halims Agoda of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the tribunal hinged its judgment on issue of over voting which accorded Igbakpa unlawful votes.
Agoda had urged the tribunal to declare him as the rightful winner of the 23rd February 2019 National Assembly Election in the constituency, arguing that the exercise was marred by electoral irregularities.
The APC candidate had told the tribunal to cancel the election or, in the alternative, declare him the winner having polled the highest number of valid votes cast during the election.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice A.M. Abubakar, while delivering the judgement on Friday, after listening to the issues rose, declared Agoda as the rightful winner of the election.
The tribunal, therefore, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Igbakpa, and re-issue same to Agoda, the APC candidate.
The Tribunal declared Agoda the winner of the election after all unlawful votes credited to Igbakpa was cancel, due to over voting in many of the Wards and unites.
Igbakpa while reacting to the judgement of the electoral tribunal called his constituents to remain calm promising to appeal the tribunal’s judgement because he did not contest to be defeated.
Igbakpa in a statement said: “My wonderful people of Ethiope Federal Constituency and the teeming supporters of the Okiemute mandate do not be disturbed by the judgement of the Asaba Election Petition Tribunal. Calm your nerves as we forge an immediate compelling appeal. The celebrations of the opposition are only short-lived and do not be provoked by their jamborees. If you lose your temper, you lose your belief that we are still on top of the situation.
“On this flawed verdict, I am consoled with the thoughts that there is nothing quite fair about the judgement. We are hurt but we should not bleed to their submission. We have not lost the race; we have merely stumbled over a hurdle and there is still enough distance to catch-up with those who intend to rob the people of hope and the assurances of good representation.”
Meanwhile, speaking immediately after the judgment, Agoda, who thanked the judiciary for the courage to right the wrong, dedicated the victory to the people of Ethiope Constituency who voted him as member of the National Assembly.