The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, capital city of Abia State, has affirmed the victory of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu representing Abia-North Senatorial district in the February 25 election.
A three-man panel led by Justice Samson Paul-Gang, on Tuesday, September 12, dismissed the petitions of the People’s Democratic Party’s Mao Ohuabunwa and the Labour Party’s Nnamdi Iro-Orji for lacking merit.
The court upheld the victory of Kalu, the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) candidate and said that his election victory aligned with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
PDP and LP alleged that the election was marred by irregularities and that elections did not hold in over 120 polling units especially in Ohafia and Arochukwu Local Government Areas of the zone.
Iro-Orji and Ohuabunwa who emerged second and third in separate suits, asked the court to annul the election of Kalu as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). However, the tribunal dismissed their suits, faulting their arguments for lacking merit.
The Tribunal also annulled the petitions where both petitioners argued that the total number of registered voters in the affected polling units was beyond the margin of win between Kalu and the first and second runners-up.
Concerning Kalu’s eligibility to contest the position, the Court validated him, stating that his trial and conviction were already repealed by the Supreme Court. Recall that in 2019, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned kalu and a former director of finance and accountant in Abia State, Ude Jones Udeogu, on a 36-count-charge of laundering up to N7.1 billion. Kalu was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment while Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Supreme Court later nullified the trial of Kalu and his co-convict.
Other petitions filed by the Labour Party challenging Kalu’s victory were also decided upon and settled by the tribunal judges, after which they declared Kalu the constitutionally elected Senator of Abia North.
INEC declared Kalu winner of the February 25 Senatorial polls having recorded 30,805 votes to defeat Iro-Orji and Ohuabunwa who scored 27,540 and 15,175 votes.
Ohuabunwa had vehemently rejected the election results, stating that INEC breached the Electoral Act by results after declaring the election inconclusive. He alleged that INEC rescheduled elections in at least 100 polling units in Arochukwu, Ohafia and other local government areas of the state, yet declared a winner.
“We mobilised our people and they trooped out to cast their votes only for us to hear that INEC announced a winner when it had yet to conclude the exercise. This is unacceptable to us and we demand that the election be cancelled and a fresh election conducted in the 100 polling units.
“I am rejecting the result totally and calling on INEC to conduct elections in the remaining polling units. There are over 100 polling units with at least 60,000 voters in those areas, which is my own area. I do not care if somebody wins but the process must be clean and conclusive,” he said shortly after INEC declared Kalu winner of the election.
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