The Labour Party, LP, senatorial candidate for Abia North, Nnamdi Iro Orji, has prayed the Appeal Court to disqualify Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for having allegedly admitted before the Federal High Court that he was convicted of fraud.
In the appeal lodged by his lead counsel, Bert C. Iqwilo, SAN, against Kalu, a copy of which was obtained by KOKO TV NG, the LP candidate premised his appeal on three grounds and prayed the appellate court to resolve them in his favour.
He argued that Kalu’s admission before an Abuja Federal High Court that he should not be retried since he had been convicted of corruption was enough ground for his disqualification.
Orji added that the election for Abia North Senatorial District, which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared in favour of Kalu, was not conducted based on provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, as voting did not take place in some polling units.
In his pleading, he further argued that the tribunal was wrong to have permitted Kalu to approbate and reprobate on the issue of his conviction and subsisting sentence.
The appellant stated that Section 66 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that no person shall be qualified for election to the Senate or the House of Representatives if within a period of less than ten years before the date of an election to a legislative house, he was convicted for an offence involving dishonesty.
Orji held that Kalu was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the poll.
According to him, Kalu’s conviction by the Federal High Court “for the offence of fraud (which is an offence that involves dishonesty) on the 5th day of December, 2019, at the conclusion of the trial of the 1st Respondent in Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07, Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Orji Uzor Kalu & 2 ors” was “less than ten (10) years from the date of conviction”.
“It was admitted on his behalf that he had earlier been convicted for the offence of fraud by the Federal High Court.
“The Federal High Court in the said Suit No.: FHC/ABJ/CS/73/2021 upheld the argument” of Kalu “that he had been convicted on the 5th day of December, 2019 in the said Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07 and therefore, prohibited any fresh arraignment in respect of the same offence in Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07,” he added.
The LP candidate stressed that Kalu did not appeal the said judgment, rather, “it was one of his co-accused, a certain Jones Udeogu, who appealed the conviction to the Supreme Court, whereat, the said Jones Udeogu secured a decision for the conviction to be set aside”.
He submitted that Kalu for all intents and purposes “remained a convict as at the time of the election” based on the decision of the apex court.
The appellant further argued that the tribunal erred to have ignored available evidence that “the Election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022,” despite sufficient proof.
Orji maintained that “election was not conducted in some wards and polling units,” noting that the conduct of an election rests under the Electoral Act, 2022, which include the report of accreditation as retrieved from the BVAS machines and the Voters’ Register.
“Without the record of accreditation by BVAS and the Voters Register there is no election. These are basic provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Regulations made by INEC,” he stated.
He urged the appellate court to resolve the issue in his favour.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had announced Kalu the winner of the election with 30,805 votes.
INEC also announced that the LP candidate secured 27,540 votes.
Trending Video Of The Day;
Photo Credit: Getty