Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha yesterday boasted that he would recover all the senatorial seats in the state on behalf of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, currently held by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The governor made the chest-beating while reacting to the ruling yesterday by the Appeal Court, Owerri division, ordering the return of the hearing of the petition challenging the election of Senator Hope Uzodimma, representing Imo West, at the March 2015 general elections.
Okorocha told the party members who came to the Government House, Owerri, on a solidarity visit after the ruling that he had concluded arrangements with the judiciary hierarchy in the country to make the tribunals rule in favour of the APC candidates in the ongoing trials.
The Imo State governorship and national assembly election tribunal had on August 2015 struck out the petition by the APC candidate, Senator Osita Izunaso, on the grounds that the latter failed to pay the prescribed fees for pretrial notice within the stipulated period.
In the ruling yesterday, the Court of Appeal ordered the tribunal to hear the petition again on merit.
The PDP won all the three senatorial seats in the state in the last general election.
Governor Okorocha comes from the same Imo West as Senator Uzodimma and the senatorial election in that district is believed to be the most keenly contested in the state at the last elections.
Keen watchers of Imo politics are, however, are of the view that Governor Okorocha might be setting for himself a tall order because, apart from the fact that the PDP candidates are believed to have truly won the elections, being more popular than their APC opponents, it may be difficult to meet the 180 days deadline stipulated for all election petitions to be heard and concluded.
Both Section 134 (2) of Electoral Act and Section 285(6) of the 1999 Constitution provide that an election tribunal must deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the day of the filing of the petition.
The Supreme Court emphasised this in ANPP vs Goni when it held that the “Provision of Section 285(6) of the 1999 Constitution is clear and unambiguous… The period of 180 days is not limited to trials but also to de novo trials that may be ordered by an Appeal Court.”
With these provisions of the laws of the land, observers are of the view that it is almost impossible for the tribunal in Owerri to dispose of the Imo West case within the less than 40 days left of the 180 days allowed by the electoral act and 1999 Constitution.


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