The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Tuesday, upheld the election of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Benjamin Kalu by dismissing a petition challenging his victory in the February 25 poll as lacking in merit.
Chief Frank Ifeanyi, who is the candidate of the Labour Party for the Bende Federal constituency election held on February 18, 2023, had approached the tribunal seeking the nullification of Kalu as the winner of election.
He had on March 17, 2023, approached the court through his petition to nullify the election, alleging that the first respondent (Kalu) was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC 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 he submitted to the second respondent (INEC), arguing further that Kalu did not score the highest number of lawful votes in the election.
Ifeanyi had therefore, 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 and declare him the winner of the election, having scored the highest number of lawful votes or (in alternative) nullify the entire election.
Delivering the judgement on the matter, the three-man panel led by Justice Sampson Gane, ruled that it was the right of the first respondent, (Kalu) 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 and which was published in the federal government official gazette.
The Judge noted that the onus of proving lies on the petitioner to prove that the certificates the respondent submitted to INEC did not belong to him, but abandoned his case for the respondent to prove.
The petition was therefore dismissed for lacking in merit and ordered the parties to bear their administrative cost.
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