Tribunal reserves judgment in petitions challenging deputy speaker Ben Kalu’s election



 The national assembly election petitions tribunal in Umuahia, Abia state, has reserved judgment in the petitions challenging the election of Benjamin Kalu, deputy speaker of the house of representatives.

 

A three-member panel of judges led by Samson Paul-Gang, on Monday, said the date for judgment would be communicated to parties in the petitions.

 

At the court session, parties adopted their final written addresses.

 

Frank Chinasa of the Labour Party (LP) and Ifeanyi Igbokwe of Action Alliance (AA), are challenging the re-election of Kalu, who is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate representing Bende federal constituency of Abia state.

 

While adopting his final address, Yunus Usman, counsel to Chinasa, asked the tribunal to set aside all the votes recorded for Kalu.

 

Usman contended that Kalu was not qualified because he did not possess the requisite educational requirements as provided for in section 65(2)(a) of the 1999 constitution.

 

He further argued that Kalu used different names in different educational certificates, other than Kalu Benjamin Okezie, which he currently bears.

In his own address, Daniel Anya, counsel to the AA candidate, asked the tribunal to annul Kalu’s election over the exclusion of the party’s name and logo from the ballot during the poll.

 

However, the deputy speaker through his counsel, Kelvin Nwufo, prayed the court to dismiss the petitions for lacking in merit.

 

Nwufo argued that the contention that Kalu presented certificates with inconsistent names “did not hold water since they all belong to him”.

 

He added that the inconsistencies in Kalu’s names were “validly harmonised” through a deed of proof and the federal government’s gazette, where the change of name is recorded.

Similarly, counsel for APC,  Virgilus Nwankwo, contended that the petitioner’s allegation that Kalu used different names to suit different situations did not imply fraud.

 

Nwankwo said that the petitioners failed to prove that Kalu “is not the owner of the certificates with different names or that the names do not belong to him”.

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