Exclusion from ballot: Abia AA demands annulment of House Dep. Speaker, Kalu’s election

Action Alliance AA

The Action Alliance (AA) in Abia has asked the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia to annul the election of the House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Mr Benjamin Kalu of APC.

The party hinged its demand on the alleged exclusion of its name and logo from the ballot for the February 25 poll.

Mohammed Ndalahi (SAN), the Counsel for the party’s candidate, Mr Ifeanyi Igbokwe, made the request during the tribunal’s sitting on Saturday.

Speaking under cross-examination by Ndalahi, the deputy speaker, Kalu, and APC witness, Cyril Kwubiri, alleged that Igbokwe was not validly nominated by AA, hence did not participate in the election.

Kwubiri, however, admitted that none of the documents he tendered in court to support his claim that Igbokwe was not validly nominated emanated from APC.

The three-member panel, led by Justice Samson Gang, adjourned sitting to Aug. 14 for the adoption of the final written addresses by all the parties.

Also, speaking under cross-examination in another suit challenging his eligibility to participate in the election, Kalu denied forging his credentials contrary to the allegation by the Labour Party Candidate, Chief Frank Chinasa.

Chinasa had alleged in his petition that the credentials presented to INEC by Kalu had fatal discrepancies.

He, therefore, urged the tribunal to nullify his election, arguing that he was unfit to participate in the poll.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the tribunal on Thursday, admitted in evidence, nine different documents tendered by Chinasa to support his petition that Kalu’s credentials were fraught with discrepancies in names.

The petitioners had argued that Form EC9, submitted to INEC by Kalu, bore ‘Osisiogu Benjamin Okezie’.

They further posited that other documents, including his birth certificate, first degree certificate, NYSC Certificate and WASC bore ‘Kalu Benjamin Okezie’, and ‘Benjamin Okezie Osisiogu’, respectively.

In his defence, Kalu tendered seven documents, including the judgment of an Abia High Court, confirming his change of name.

He also tendered a Certified True Copies (CTCs) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria official gazette number 49, volume 107 of 26th March 2020; letter from the Supreme Court; newspaper publication and a Deed Pool – all confirming harmonisation of his name.

He faulted the CTCs of the petitioners’ exhibits alleging discrepancies in his documents, saying they did not bear stamps from the issuing institutions.

Counsel for APC, Vigilus Nwankwo, also told the tribunal to reject the said CTCs since they lacked INEC stamp.

In the same vein, the INEC Counsel, Ogochukwu Onyekwuluke, disowned the documents, pointing out that the petitioners’ CTCs did not bear the commission’s stamp.

All the seven documents were admitted by the tribunal as exhibits, in spite of an objection by Chinasa’s Counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN).

Usman said they would incorporate the reasons for their injection to the admissibility of the documents in their final written addresses.

The matter was adjourned to Aug. 14 for adoption of the final written addresses by all parties. (NAN)

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