Election Tribunals are legitimate creations specifically set up to address injustice that arise during elections. They are usually manned by Jurists with impeccable records of knowledge, experience and integrity.
In a constitutional democracy, the importance of Election Tribunals does not need to be overemphasized. Their operational presence goes a long way to guarantee confidence and assurance that violent illegalities perpetuated by unpopular desperate politicians during elections are dispassionately examined and justice made to prevail, at all times and in all circumstances.
The last Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria took place on Saturday 23rd February, 2019. There are eight thousand, eight hundred and nine (8,809) Electoral Wards and one hundred and nineteen thousand, nine hundred and seventy-three(119,973) polling units in Nigeria. The said elections were conducted in all the polling units and wards in the country.
In Abia-North Senatorial District, sitting Senator Mao Arukwe Ohuabunwa; a quintessential Legislator of the finest description, flew the senatorial flag of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. On the platform of All Progressive Congress, APC, was a former governor of the State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
The Abia-North Senatorial election was characterized by visible irregularities, including unlawful use of violence.
It was obvious the former governor, who had remained in political abeyance and remission since 2007, with lots of political misadventures, failures and frustrations, had become too desperate to pull himself out of his political oblivion, irrelevance and, therefore, resorted to violence and all manner of electoral malpractice.
With connivance of some unscrupulous staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission; INEC, many unit results were unlawfully and unjustifiably canceled. Legitimate results from many polling units that naturally were favourable to Senator Ohuabunwa and the PDP were rejected, with the support of violent APC thugs.
Even with all the illegal manipulations by those unpatriotic staff of INEC, they still released a result that, at best, should have been declared an Inconclusive Election.
The compromised result declared by INEC could only show that while Chief Kalu was purported to have garnered a total of thirty-one thousand, two hundred and one (31,201) votes, supposedly leading to a margin of ten thousand and four hundred(10, 400) votes over Senator Ohuabunwa’s 20,801 votes, canceled votes in Arochukwu and Nkporo alone amounted to more than thirty-eight thousand.
According to Section 33(e) of INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of 2019 General Election, any election in which the Margin of Lead is less than cancelled votes, shall be declared inconclusive and a rerun election conducted in the affected areas.
In Abia-South the Regulations and Guidelines were judiciously observed. Hence, there was a rerun of election in Aba-North and Aba-South Federal Constituency. It was the same with Abia-South Senatorial election.
Except for pecuniary inducement, one still wonders why a strategically-placed Dr Charles Anumudu; a ‘Quantitative Economist’ and a Research Fellow at the Research Division of Institute For Legislative Studies, at the National Assembly, should turn a blind eye to Section 33(e) of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines.
However, the chickens have unavoidably come home to roost! As the demand for justice would naturally compel, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa has duly taken this case of violent putrid non-compliance in Abia-North 2019 Senatorial election to the National Assembly Election Tribunal, sitting at Umuahia.
Interestingly, it is Chief Orji Uzor Kalu and his APC that have unwittingly but miraculously opened the Pandorax Box.
Documents they presented to support their fake electoral victory in the Tribunal have become legal instruments against them.
Thinking that the smartest way to save itself from the inevitable defeat that awaits it in the Tribunal is to surreptitiously connive with a dishonest and dishonourable Customary Court Staff attached to the office of the Secretary of the Tribunal to unlawfully remove the documents it tendered and were duly admitted as Exhibits, the APC clearly portrayed itself as being desperate to cover atrocities and illegalities it perpetrated during the election.
As it continues to be said, the Judiciary is the last hope of the common man. Despite undue insistence by the APC lawyers that proceedings in the case should continue in the absence of the ‘missing documents’, the ever brilliant lawyers of Senator Ohuabunwa were able to convince the Tribunal that continuing with the matter in that state would amount to gross injustice.
The Tribunal, accordingly, adjourned the case to next week so that the Plaintiff would turn in the copies of the same documents in their possession. Kudos must be given to the Tribunal for standing for justice.
It must, however, be pointed out that the untrustworthy staff of the Customary Court that is being imprudently used by the APC to ‘steal’ and remove vital documents in the custody of the Tribunal must have to be shown the way out of the Tribunal.
Whatever goes around will surely come around. Abia-North Senatorial mandate was stolen. By God’s grace, it would be restored to Senator Mao Ohuabunwa so that the Igbo would not be subjected to further embarrassment already unnecessarily emanating from that District.