Ohuabunwa vs Orji Kalu :Tribunal declares Kalu’s election invalid

September 10th, 2019

* Orders supplementary poll

* Says over 30, 076 voters disenfranchised without reason

From Steve Oko , Umuahia

The National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Monday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to within 90 days, conduct a supplementary election between Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP); and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC), representing Abia North senatorial district.

Ohuabunwa had petitioned against the election of Kalu, alleging non compliance with the principles of margin of lead , as well as doctoring of results in favour of the APC candidate at the council collation centres.

The petitioner had argued that the total number of registered voters in the units and wards where election did not hold or results were either cancelled or not collated was far higher than the margin of lead.

He had prayed the tribunal to invalidate Kalu’s election and order INEC to organise a rerun as no candidate was returned in the February 28 poll by the Returning Officer.

Delivering a unanimous judgement in the suit, one of the members of the three – man panel, Justice I. P. C Igwe, ruled that the declaration of the second respondent (Kalu ) as winner of the poll by the first respondent (INEC), “was invalid by reason of non -compliance with the Electoral Act “.

Justice Igwe berated INEC for failing to complete the electoral process by announcing incomplete result.

The panel queried INEC for its failure to state why results in many wards and several units were not collated without any reason, as required by law, yet it went ahead to declare the final result.

According to the tribunal, INEC only succeeded in disenfranchising over 30’000 voters by denying them their constitutional rights of choosing who their leader should be.

It held that the total number of registered voters in the units and wards were election either did not hold or results were cancelled without reasons were in the excess of 30,000 votes, which are far above the 10, 400 margin of lead.

” Citizens have the constitutional right of choosing who governs them and should not be denied such rights, but if the electoral umpire denies them such right it amounts to a call for anarchy “, the judge declared

The tribunal therefore, ordered INEC to within 90 days, conduct a supplementary election in eight wards in Arochukwu (Ohuabunwa’s LGA), as well as some wards in Ohafia, and some polling units in Bende and Isuikwuato LGAs where election results were not collated.

The tribunal also deducted 46 votes wrongfully credited to the APC candidate in some polling units in Bende , and added 379 to Ohuabunwa who it held was shortchanged at the council collation centre.

By the new addition and subtraction, the APC candidate now has 31,105 votes while the PDP candidate has 21,152 votes.

The reading of the judgement lasted for almost three hours as supporters of both parties defied the heavy downpour to listen to socialize with their candidate.

Both candidates were however not physically present at the court but were represented by their counsels.

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