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Kalu: Standing tall in victory

Taliba flavia

Nov. 08, 2019

The affirmation of the February 23 senatorial election of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North) yesterday by the Appeal Court, has reiterated the electoral pedigree of the Senate Chief Whip, writes WALE ELEGBEDE
The wild jubilation and excitement that permeated the nooks and crannies of Abia North senatorial district yesterday wasn’t a surprise and the reason was clear; the electorate in the senatorial district voted their choice in Senator Orji Uzor Kalu as their representatives in the February 23 National Assembly election and that was the person affirmed by the Court Appeal.
In a unanimous landmark ruling yesterday at the Court of Appeal Court, Owerri Division, the presiding judge, Justice R. A. Adah, dismissed the ruling of the lower tribunal that ordered a supplementary election in eight wards in Arochukwu Local Government Area and several polling units in Ohafia and Isukwuato LGAs, following the petition brought by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Mao Ohuabunwa.
Kalu , a former governor of Abia State and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 23 National Assembly poll in Abia North Senatorial District, was declared winner of the election after polling 30,203 votes to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the PDP, Ohuabunwa, who garnered 20,801 votes.
In the breakdown of the election result, the Returning Officer for the senatorial district , Dr. Charles Anumudu, said that the former governor won in four out of the five local government areas (LGAs) in Abia North.
For political analysts, the outcome of the election authenticated the means, reach, influence and political dexterity of Kalu. Aside from edging out the incumbent lawmaker, Ohuabunwa, he was also able to bring his personality to bear in marketing the APC to not only the people of his senatorial district but the southeast at large. Through his sway, the APC in Abia north senatorial zone also produced two members of House of Representatives and some state House of Assembly members during the last general elections.
Little wonder, then, when Ohuabunwa who lost to the hurricane personality of Kalu in the election decided to appeal the outcome of the poll at the National Assembly Tribunal, he got little or no sympathy even from his core supporters. However, since it is his right within the purview of law , he went ahead to test the Kalu’s victory .
Not uptight in any way about the challenge against his mandate, Kalu moved on with service to the people of his district and the country. In the process, he was deemed fit for not only the Senate Chief Whip, he also became a principal officer in the 9th National Assembly.
But from the blues, the three-man National and State Assembly election petitions tribunal sitting in Umuahia , Abia State, and led by Justice Cornelius Akintayo, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a supplementary election within 90 days in eight wards in Arochukwu Local Government Area and several polling units in Ohafia and Isukwuato LGAs where votes were cancelled during senatorial election in Abia North senatorial district .
Responding to the tribunal ruling, Kalu, in his effervescent nature, told a delegation of APC from Abia State who visited him in Abuja that he is not losing sleep over the verdict of the tribunal.
The senate Chief Whip said: “If we do that election 20 times, Buhari, our president , our senatorial district – my seat and the governorship candidate seat is intact, we will always win it. It is a fundamental error that they may have to call for a supplementary election in some units.
“If not that it is a fight for my fundamental human rights, we will call for an election next week, if INEC will agree.
“But because the constitution gives us the right to appeal, we have already contacted our lawyers and the lawyers are already preparing our appeal to go to the appellate court,” he said.
Expectedly, as a stickler to the dictates of the rule of law, Kalu appealed the rulings of the lower tribunal and still went ahead performing his supersonic humanistic interventions to his constituents and Nigerians at large.
The maxim , truth is constant and cannot be suppressed for long, clearly becomes apt in the Abia North issue. Delivering ruling yesterday as the final arbiter in the case, the Appellate court in Owerri upheld the February 23 election of Kalu , holding that the lower tribunal erred on several counts.
In the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice R. A. Adah observed that the grounds upon which the lower tribunal predicated its reliefs to the petitioner were not tenable in law.
Justice Adah noted that the lower tribunal granted the petitioner’s reliefs he did not ask for which was unacceptable in law.
Another line of question mark from the appellate court was that the petitioner, Ohuabunwa, literally dumped its avalanche of documents on the lower tribunal without calling witnesses to tie the document to their case.
The Appellate Court further insisted that the lower court erred by allowing the dumping of documents on the lower tribunal.
The court maintains that in law, the petitioner must establish proof by bringing witnesses who would tie documents to the substance of the case.
In the light of the clear breaches, the Appeal Court, therefore, had no choice than to nullify the judgment of the lower tribunal while upholding the election of Kalu.
In his reaction to the appellate court ruling, the apparently elated Kalu, said he has nothing to say but to give all thanks and glory to God Almighty.
Speaking through his Twitter handle @OUKtweets, the former governor also thanked members of the APC, just as he appreciated the support of many Nigerians and the perseverance of his supporters throughout his legal battle.
The senator said: “We emerged victorious at the appeal court today. I have nothing to say, other than to give God all the glory & to thank all our supporters for their perseverance throughout this journey. The mandate of the people has once again been reassured.”
“No doubt, the disputation about Kalu’s victory in Abia North has been laid to rest. But one thing was salient while the contestation was ongoing, the people of the senatorial district stood firmly behind the bearer of their mandate and this is a sign of better days ahead for the people and the district.”
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