THE National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, in a petition filed by Mao Ohuabunwa faulted the election of Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, (Abia North District) and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a supplementary election in the district.
Ruling on Monday, on a petition filed by Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the victory of Kalu of the All Peoples Congress (APC) in the February 23, National Assembly election.
Kalu was declared winner of the election by the Returning Officer, Dr. Charles Anumudu, which Ohuabunwa described as “excess electoral fraud and broad daylight robbery,” and went to the tribunal to seek justice.
The three-man panel, led by Justice Cornelius Akintayo, in a unanimous judgement, said the petitioner, Ohuabunwa, proved that the return of Kalu was invalid by reason of substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act during the election.
In challenging the outcome of the contest in Abia North senatorial district, in which he came second, Ohuabunwa contended that INEC ought to have declared the election inconclusive and conducted a re-run in areas where elections did not hold or votes were cancelled or voided.
According to the Ohuabunwa, the margin of about 10, 000 votes by which Kalu was leading him was lower than the number of voters in areas where there were substantial non-compliance in the senatorial district, which he said was over 70, 000.
The tribunal, therefore, ordered INEC to conduct supplementary election in the affected areas across the five local governments of Arochukwu, Bende, Isuikwuato, Ohafia and Umunneochi in the senatorial zone within 90 days from the day of the ruling.
The elections are to hold in eight wards of Arochukwu local government area and several polling units in Ohafia and Isukwuato local government areas where votes were cancelled during senatorial election in Abia North senatorial district, among others.
After computations of some of the INEC collated results of the National Assembly poll in the zone, the tribunal also added 339 votes to the ones already credited to Ohuabunwa and deducted 46 votes from the ones that were credited to Kalu.
A Counsel to Ohuabunwa, Mike Onyeka, said the tribunal’s verdict was the triumph of democracy, adding, “what has been done is the justice of the matter.”