Bende federal constituency: AA fumes over conflicting judgment in Abia Elections Petition 1
By: Femi Mustapha
The Action Alliance has expressed dismay over the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Abia State’s dismissal of the case instituted by the Action Alliance (AA) against INEC and APC, challenging the election of Benjamin Kalu, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
It will be recalled that Action Alliance, led by Adekunle Omo-Aje, had petitioned the tribunal following the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to upload the name of its candidate submitted for Bende federal constituency of Abia State, Ifeanyi Chukwuka.
Buttressing this in his 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.
The deputy speaker, through his counsel, Kelvin Nwufo, however, prayed the court to dismiss the petitions for lacking in merit.
While the petition was filed by Omo-Aje-led leadership, the three-member panel of judges led by Samson Paul-Gang in its judgment allegedly dismissed the case because another faction of the party led by one Kenneth Udeze said it never filed or authorized anyone to initiate any legal action against Kalu.
“The instant affidavit filed in support is deposed to by one Chief Barrister Kenneth Udeze, the acclaimed National Chairman of the second Petitioner (Action Alliance), while the earlier application filed on 24th July 2023 was deposed to by one IFEANYI CHUKWUKA IGBOKWE,” a true copy of one of the judgments obtained by this reporter and signed by Bello Hassan, Principal Registrar of the Tribunal read.
“The difference in the two applications is that the first application was deposed to not by the applicant himself but by the National Chairman. Meanwhile, the second application was deposed by the one who bears the name of the first Petitioner, IFEANYI CHUKWUKA IGBOKWE.
“The Petitioners being the Respondents have filed two separate counter affidavits in opposition to the two applications. The earlier application had been argued before and the ruling was reserved till judgment.
“Since the subsequent application was filed after judgment had been reserved, we have seen the need to determine the two applications together at the same time since they are based on the same subject matter. Having adopted their processes before the Tribunal, we are only left with the issue of determining whether this application is grantable or not.”
“After the matter was closed before the tribunal and all the parties in the matter had made their final submissions and the panel of the tribunal was to fix a date to deliver the final judgment on the matter, we were shocked to hear another issue arose about the petition,” a top member of AA told.
“While expecting the tribunal to fix a date for the final judgment on the petition filed by the AA, we learned that the matter was allegedly withdrawn by one Kenneth Udeze, who had since been suspended and subsequently expelled from the party.
“Udeze who reportedly withdrew the matter was an impostor and an impersonator as he has no link to the party, having been expelled by the National Convention, which is the highest organ of the party. To our surprise, the purported withdrawal of the petition by the same Udeze who is not recognized by law, nor INEC prompted the tribunal panel made up of Justices Samson, Paul Gang, Kabiru Ibrahim Ahmed, and Abdulfatai Baba Sekoni to dismiss the petition.
“Also, two conflicting judgments were delivered by the tribunal, and the two different judgments were gotten by us. Omo-Aje filed a petition before you, but a few days to judgment, an impostor approached the court that he wasn’t interested in the case again, and the tribunal based its judgment on that, no investigation, a check on INEC website alone would have guided the tribunal that this man isn’t the National Chairman of AA.”
This reporter gathered that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after the judgment of the Competence Court, gives recognition to Hon Adekunle Rufai Omoaje as the authentic national chairman of the Action Alliance (AA).
To this end, the commission updated its website, with the name of Omoaje appearing as the national chairman of the AA as against the name of one Kenneth Obidiche Udeze who was there before.