National and State House of Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, Monday, upheld the petition of Mao Ohuabunwa against the declaration of Orji Kalu as winner of the Abia North Senatorial District.
Delivering its judgment on Monday, a member of the three-member tribunal, Justice I.P.C Igwe, said the petitioner, Ohuabunwa, a former senator, successfully proved his allegation of substantial non-compliance with the electoral guidelines.
Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had approached the tribunal to nullify the election of Kalu, who contested the February 23 2019 election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Kalu is a former governor of Abia State.
The petitioner told the tribunal that 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.
In a reaction, counsel for Ohuabunwa, Mike Onyeka, hailed the judgment, saying it had increased his confidence in the judiciary.
“I feel a little more confident in the judiciary because what has been decided is the justice of the matter,” he said.