The Appeal Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Thursday, nullified the election of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ordered a rerun election within 90 days.
Former governor of Abia State and candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) in the March 28 election, Dr. Orji Kalu, had challenged the result of the Abia North senatorial poll, alleging unprecedented irregularities.
Accordingly, Justice I. G. Mbaba directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election to determine the authentic winner because the initial process was fundmentally flawed in all respective matters concerning the exercise, pointing out that the tribunal on Abia North Senatorial District poll erred in its verdict by upholding Ohuabunwa’s election.
Reacting to the ruling, Kalu said: “This is victory for democracy aimed at the restoration of the people’s will, which was trampled upon through the abuse of fleeting power by those who thought they could mortgage the conscience of Abians. What the appeal Court has succeeded in doing is the liberation of Abians from the shackles of authoritarianism and the associated power rascality.
“Abians and I are now going to win, by God’s grace, by a landslide margin much more than we did in the last election which outcome was brazenly manipulated against the wish of our people. This same thing happened in 2011 when my mandate was recklessly upturned by persons who had special relationships with the immediate-past president of the country.
“We are ready for the rerun. I congratulate the Appeal Court on this decision. It is a testament to the robust vibrancy of our judiciary, which remains the last hope of the oppressed. This, again, is victory for Nigerians generally, Abians particularly and democracy,” Kalu declared.
Meanwhile, people in Aba, Umuahia, Bende, Okigwe, Isiukwuato and other major cities in the state trooped out to the streets jubilating over the judgement.
Almost all the beer parlours and other social centres were filled with patrons celebrating the latest development.
Some of them wondered why the court did not go ahead to declare Kalu the winner
Kalu, in response to telephone interviews on Thursday, said he preferred a rerun to outright declaration of him as the winner. “The rerun will enable us to establish our strength, show our might and also test our popularity and acceptability once more. I prefer it to any other thing,” Kalu affirmed.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of Abia Youth Vanguard (AYV), Maxi Alex Ugo, has applauded the judgement of the court of Appeal sitting in Owerri on the nullification of the election of Ohuabunwa.
He acknowledged the forthrightness and patriotism of the three-man appellate panel led by Justice I. G. Mbaba in upholding the will of the people.
According to Ugo, in a statement made available to the press on Thursday, the court of Appeal has given hope to the hopeless despite threats by enemies of progress.
He said, “every day for the thief, one day for the owner. The people of Abia State had during the March 28 National Assembly thronged out in large numbers to cast their votes for the preferred candidate, Dr. Orji Kalu of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). It was indeed unfortunate when the PDP and its paid agents falsified the election results despite resistance by the returning officer, Prof Ihekweaba Chukwugoziem. We voted for our choice, a friend of the people, OUK”.
The further said, “it is end time for political jobbers who have nothing to offer. They inflicted pains on Abians from 2007 through 2015. The era of invisible so- called legacy projects is over. Democracy has now come to stay in Abia with today’s appeal court judgment. It is a clear testimony to the fact that the future is bright for Nigerians”.
“As future leaders and good ambassadors of Nigeria, we the youths, firmly believe in in Nigeria’s judiciary anchored on transparency and equity. We will again come out en masse to cast our votes for Orji Kalu. We would not allow anyone intimidate us as we are ready to defend our votes with the last drop of our blood”, he added.
The coordinator while commending the federal government for promoting transparent judicial process, called on the independent national electoral commission (INEC) and security agencies to be wary of the PDP, who are known for election manipulation, adding that the new election must be conducted in a free, fair and credible manner.
In a similar development, stakeholders in Old Bende have commended the three man appellate panel headed by Justice I. G. Mbaba that nullified the election of Mao Ohuabunwa of the PDP as Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District.
In a statement signed by Chief Godwin Kalu, he described the decision of the Court of Appeal as good for democracy.
According to him, lawlessness is the foundation of Nigeria’s problem.
He said, “the last national assembly election in Abia North Senatorial District was characterized by massive ballot snatching, rigging and falsification of results. The peoples’ mandate was not allowed to count. With the decision of the court, the people’s will have now prevailed.
Whenever the fresh election will hold within the stipulated 90 days, I want to urge the electorate to come out en -masse without fear to vote for their choice, it is a new era”.
While pledging their continued support and loyalty to the former governor of Abia State and Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate, the group promised to sustain its door to door campaign tagged: “one man, one vote”.