December 7, 2023

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Abia North: Tribunal validates Orji Kalu’s victory

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu

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Abia North: Tribunal validates Orji Kalu’s victory
By Steve Oko
The  victory of the Senator representing Abia North, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC), in the February 25 national assembly poll, was Tuesday, validated by the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia.
Wawa News Global reports that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa had approached the tribunal to seek the nullification of the election, arguing that Kalu did not win majority of the lawful votes.
He also alleged massive disenfranchisement of voters arguing that election did not hold in over 120 polling units mainly in Ohafia and Arochukwu Local Government Areas, and that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had during a press conference on Sunday, February 26, admitted that election would be rescheduled in the affected areas.
Ohuabunwa had through his lawyers argued that while voters in the affected polling units, which he claimed were his strongholds,  were getting ready for the re-scheduled election, INEC, “hastily” declared Kanu winner of the contest.
He had further argued that the total number of registered voters in the affected polling units was far above the margin of win between Kalu and the first and second runner-ups.
But the Respondents had through their legal team, urged the tribunal to discountenance the claims by the Petitioners and throw away the petition.
Kalu’s lawyers also claimed that the alleged disenfranchisement of voters in some polling units was due to the sympathy of voters in the affected areas for separatist movement championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The APC candidate insisted that he won majority of the lawful votes cast in the election, and that he was validly returned.
Delivering judgment on the petition, Justice Samson Paul -Gang -led three- man panel, resolved all the matters in favour of the Respondents.
Justice Gang who read the unanimous judgment, held that there was a substantial compliance with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election.
On the issue of disenfranchisement of voters in some of the wards, the  tribunal  held that the growing sympathy for separatist movement in the South East could have accounted for that, adding that there was no guarantee that they would have participated in any re-scheduled election.
Similarly, the tribunal dismissed another petition filed by the candidate of the Labour Party, Chief Nnamdi Iro Orji (Opotoyom), against Kalu.
Nnamdi Iro Orji, and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu
The tribunal held that the Supreme Court had already quashed the claims by the Petitioner that Kalu was not qualified to stand election following his alleged imprisonment over financial fraud.
It, therefore, declared that the APC was validly returned.
Later in an interview, Chief Ukpai Ukiro who spoke on behalf of the Petitioner’s legal team, expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment.
He said he would discuss with his client to determine the next line of action.
Responding also, a member of Kalu’s legal team, Mr Victor Etie, hailed the judgment which he described as “very well considered”.
He  expressed delight the tribunal had validated the declaration of his client as the winner of the contest.
Steve Oko, Publisher/C.E.O, WaWa News Global. For more information on advert placement and news coverage, contact us on: 08038725600, or via email; Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.
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