Abia North senatorial poll petition: All eyes on tribunal – stakeholders
By Chidi Onyede, South East
As the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia has reserved judgment for the petitions seeking to nullify the February 25 senatorial contest in Abia North,
political stakeholders from the zone have tasked the judiciary to be unbiased in its judgment.
Recall that Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Chief Nnamdi Iro Orji (Opotoyom) of the Labour Party, have respectively approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the contest.
Wawa News Global had reported that both Chief Orji (popularly known as Opotoyom, and Senator Ohuabunwa had argued 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.
The Petitioners expressed shock that while voters in the affected polling units, mostly their strongholds, were getting ready for the re-scheduled election, INEC, “hastily, and in clear violation of the Electoral Act”, declared Kanu winner of the contest.
They 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.
Meanwhile, the Justice Samson Paul -Gang -led three- man panel, has reserved judgment in both petitions after all parties adopted their final written addresses about two weeks ago.
Addressing newsmen in Umuahia, Dr Isaac Nkole who spoke on behalf of the stakeholders, expressed disappointment over the massive disenfranchisement of voters in the district during the poll, and urged the tribunal to prove that judiciary remains the last hope of the people.
He said that the people of Abia North had closely monitored proceedings at the tribunal and would want justice to be served.
Nkole strongly tasked members of the tribunal to look at the merits of the matter and give verdict without fear or favour.
” We want to make it known that Abia North is closely watching the happenings at the tribunal, and is desirous of justice and sound judgment devoid of any form of doubt, suspicion or compromise.
” Abia North has implicit confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of common man. We strongly believe that the judiciary can rescue the drowning democracy in Nigeria.
” We, therefore, appeal to the tribunal members to remain upright and refuse to be compromised for any reason. They should strive to write their names in gold by helping to restore the fast-eroding public confidence in the Nigerian judiciary.
” We will not hesitate to expose anyone discovered to be engaging in any shoddy deal capable of obstructing justice. Abia North is not for sale, therefore, anyone contemplating to buy or sell should keep off”.
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