By Jonathan Lois
The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, has dismissed a petition challenging the election of deputy speaker of the House of the Representatives, Chief Benjamin Kalu, for lacking in merit.
The candidate of the Labour Party for the Bende Federal constituency election held on February 18, 2023, Chief Frank Ifeanyi, had approached the tribunal seeking for the nullification of Kalu as the winner of election.
Ifeanyi, had prayed the court in
the petition that was brought before it on March 17,2023, to nullify the election alleging that the first respondent (Kalu)
was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission in error.
The petitioner also alleged that the first respondent was not qualified to contest the election because he was not the owner of certificates summited to the second respondent (INEC)
The petitioner argued that Kalu, didn’t score the highest number of lawful votes in the election.
Ifeanyi and his party (LP) equally asked the Court to nullify and set outside the votes given to the first respondent and Withdraw the certificate of return given to him by INEC.
The petitioner also told court to declare him the winner of the election having scored the highest number of lawful votes or nullify the entire election.
However while delivering Judgement on the matter on Tuesday, the three man panel led by Justice Sampson Gane, ruled that it was the right of the first respondent to change his name as no person or group of persons has the monopoly of any name.
He ruled that Kalu equally harmonized the names in his certificate with a deed poll which was published in the federal government official gazette.
The Judge ruled that the onus of proves lied on the petitioner to prove that the certificates the respondent summited to INEC did not belong to him, but he abandoned his case for respondent to prove.
The petition was dismissed for lacking in merit and ordered the parties to bear their administrative cost.