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Orji Uzor Kalu‘s victory in the 2023 Senatorial Election, as declared by the tribunal in the Abia North Senatorial District, has been contested by a group called The Friends Of Democracy.
The group’s Coordinator, Okafor Azubuike, explained in a statement, ‘We witnessed the election in Abia North for the senatorial election. We deployed men to monitor it. The election, for every lover of democracy and truth, was inconclusive.’
‘We recorded and knew; INEC knew and said elections were not held in Isiama Ohafia ward, Okamu Ohafia ward, Agborji Abiriba ward, and many other polling units in Arochukwu/Ohafia Local Government.’
‘These areas alone had almost 50,000 registered voters who were disenfranchised.’
‘In fact, INEC confirmed that elections were not held in these areas. Its electoral officer in Ohafia Local Government Area (LGA) and the Abia State electoral commissioner announced before journalists that ‘elections would be held on a fresh date to be announced by the commission’.
‘On February 26, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that INEC, through its Administration Secretary in Abia, Clement Oha, announced that elections would be held on February 27, being Monday, at ‘various polling units in Aba North, Aba South, Arochukwu, Obingwa, Osisioma, Ohafia, and Umuahia North Local Government Areas at 8 a.m.’
‘He said the affected polling units had already been communicated.’
‘Observers at the election, like the Head of the Coalition of Election Observers, Rasheed Shuaib, and Future Leaders Global Institute, Fidelis Nweke, called on INEC ‘to conduct fresh elections in these areas where elections never held and fix a date for a rerun election or cancel the elections as a result of irregularities that took place during the collation of the results, not in line with the new Electoral Act’, as reported by Leadership newspapers.’
‘The Electoral Act 2022, as amended, is very clear that where the winning margin is less than the total votes where elections did not hold, another election must be conducted.’
‘In the case of the Abia North Senatorial Election, INEC declared the APC candidate the winner with 3000 votes, whereas the total number of registered voters in the areas where the election did not hold was almost 50,000 voters.’
‘Despite available evidence and oral and written testimonies, the tribunal did not take them into account.written testimonies, the tribunal did not take them into account.
‘While the complainant has the right to appeal and has vowed to do so, we warn that the judiciary is seen as the last hope of the common man and must not destroy that hope. The preservation of democracy is attainable when justice is not only done but is seen by all as having been done.’
‘There must be true hope not only for the common man but for the innocent man who, although poor and ignorant, deserves the preservation of his rights and what’s due to him.’
‘The decision of the tribunal, although late, is not only questionable but sad because the court has been in the eye of the storm for many inconsistencies despite clearly established precedent.’
‘The Appeal Court has a duty not only to the people of Abia North who braved the threats to their lives and properties to turn out to vote but to Nigerians to strengthen their confidence in the judiciary.’
‘The court cannot order a rerun in Eti Osa Local Government of Lagos State, where the winning margin was 4,000 and the total registered voters were less than 21,000, where elections did not hold, and ignore that in Abia North. It’s a clear case of behind-the-scenes negotiation that must not be allowed to stand.’
‘We call on all people in Abia North not to lose hope but to be confident that they will ultimately triumph when the court of appeals sits to consider the merits of the case.’
‘The beneficiary of this injustice who’s celebrating should not celebrate yet because the will of the people must be respected and will triumph in the end.’
Orji Uzor Kalu’s win in the Abia North senatorial election on February 25 was officially endorsed by the tribunal last week. However, Nnamdi Iro Orji, the candidate from the Labour Party who posed the strongest challenge to Kalu, has refused to accept the tribunal’s ruling and is resolved to pursue justice through an appeal to a higher court.