Breaking: Appeal court reserves judgement on Kalu versus Ohuabunwa case as INEC withdraws
* Dismisses INEC’s petition
By Steve Oko
The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri Monday, reserved judgment for a yet-to-be announced date on the suit filed by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu against Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the February 23rd senatorial poll in Abia North.
Both parties will be communicated on the date for judgement which according to the new electoral guidelines must be delivered on or before November 8.
Justice Cornelius Akintayo -led Election Petitions Tribunal had invalidated Kalu’s election on the grounds of non compliance with the principles of margin of lead.
The three -man panel had also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to conduct a supplementary election between Kalu and Ohuabunwa in eighth out of the 11 electoral wards in Arochukwu where results of the February 23rd election were not collated.
The supplementary election is also to be held in some other wards and several polling units mostly in PDP strongholds.
But dissatisfied with the tribunal’s judgement, Kalu headed for the Appeal court to challenge the verdict of the panel.
When hearing began on the petition by Kalu at the appellant court Monday, his lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi adopted his written brief and prayed the court to set aside the judgement of the lower tribunal.
Senator Ohuabunwa’s lead counsel, Chika Den-Wigwe SAN, while addressing the court, adopted and relied on his written briefs filed on 15th October.
He urged the court to dismiss the petition and uphold the judgement of the lower tribunal.
Meanwhile the court has dismissed the petition filed by INEC following a notice of withdrawal later filed by the electoral umpire.
No lawyer appeared for INEC at the court, hence the court threw away the petition.
The court queried the reasonability of Kalu’s party, the All Progressive Congress, APC to file a separate petition when its candidate had already filed his own.
According to the court, it amounts to unnecessary duplication and abuse of court processes for APC and its candidate to file separate petitions.
At the heat of the argument , counsel to APC, Obiora Obianwu agreed to step down the party’s petition ,and subsequently, adopted Kalu’s written briefs which according to his lawyer has 32 grounds of objection.
Responding to the consolidation of Kalu and APC’s briefs, Ohuabunwa’s lead counsel, Den-Wigwe still urged the court to dismiss the petition.
Chairman of the appeal panel had earlier apologised to all parties for the late commencement of hearing which started 3:05 pm against the earlier scheduled time of 9:00 am.
He cited transportation difficulties owing to bad access road to the court as well as non availability of light as reason for the development.
Meanwhile, efforts by our Correspondent to get the names of the members of the appeal panel were unsuccesful as a source at the Court Registry said there was a directive to them not to release the names of the panelists.
When prodded further, the source, however, refused to give any reasons for the alleged directive.