Abia North: Orji Kalu loses at tribunal

Orji Kalu, lawmaker representing Abia North at the Senate, has had the election that produced him being nullified by the National and State Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Umuahia.

Mr Kalu, a former governor of Abia State is the current Chief Whip of the upper legislative chamber.

Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had approached the tribunal to nullify the election of the lawmaker, who contested the February 23 2019 election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) citing non-compliance with the electoral guidelines.

Justice I.P.C Igwe, who led the three-member panel to deliver judgement said Mr Ohuabunwa proved his allegation the guidelines of the exercise were not complied with.

The petitioner told the tribunal that Mr Kalu’s declaration as the winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not comply with the provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.

He alleged that INEC excluded some votes during the collation of results, adding that the commission also disenfranchised many registered voters in the constituency.

The tribunal said since all the parties agreed that elections were peaceful in the entire senatorial district, INEC failed in its duty to ensure that all the unit results were duly recorded in the relevant ward and local government result sheets.

It frowned at the exclusion of over 30,000 votes from Arochukwu Local Government Area, without giving good reason for its action.

The tribunal held that the excluded figure was much higher than the over 10,000 votes, which was the margin of lead between Mr Kalu and the petitioner.

The panel therefore nullified the election and ordered a supplementary election in the affected areas within 90 days.