The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State on Monday sacked former governor of the state, Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North) as Senator.
Kalu who is the Senate’s Chief Whip is a former House of Representatives Member. He was elected on February 23, 2019 during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
The tribunal ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize a supplementary election in Abia North Senatorial District. Recall that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February election, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa had approached the tribunal headed by Justice Akintoye Cornelius, challenging the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) alleging over voting among other issues raised in the NASS election whom INEC returned elected in the poll.
The supplementary election which would be conducted within 90 days will take place in eight wards within Arochukwu Local Government Area and among other polling units in Ohafia and Isukwuato LGAs where votes were cancelled in Abia North senatorial district.
Kalu was declared winner by the returning officer Dr. Charles Anumudu which Ohuabunwa described as excess electoral fraud and broad daylight robbery and therefore approached the tribunal to seek for justice.
Ohuabunwa lawyers told the tribunal that 38,526 votes were cancelled during collation as declared by the returning officer who declared Kalu winner by polling 31,201 votes against Ohuabunwa who polled 20,80.
The difference between the number of votes scored by Ohuabunwa and Kalu was 10,400 which were lower than the number of cancelled votes as such demands for rerun as stipulated in rule 33(e) of INEC regulation.
But the three-man tribunal panel led by Justice Cornelius Akintayo in a unanimous judgement read by Justice PC Igwe on Monday, ruled that INEC did not comply substantially with the electoral laws during the conduct of the election.
The tribunal equally faulted INEC for not giving good reasons for cancelling votes in the affected wards.
The panel also ordered INEC to add 349 votes to votes already scored by Mao and deduct 149 votes from Kalu in Bende Local Government of the district.
Mao’s lawyer Mike Onyeka hailed the tribunal for giving the Judgment in favor of his client.
He said he confident that his client will get justice because he has a good case.
However, in a statement signed by his media office on Monday, the former governor noted that his victory in the 2019 general election was borne out of his popularity among the people, adding that justice can only be delayed but not denied.
He said, “Following the decision of the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, I will appeal the decision of the tribunal at the Court of Appeal.
“The PDP candidate, Ohaubunwa, is not popular among the people and as such, my victory in the national assembly poll as landslide.“Any day, any time, the APC will defeat the PDP in Abia North Senatorial District. At the appropriate time, my mandate will be restored.” Kalu expressed gratitude to Abians for their show of love and support before, during and after the 2019 general election.