Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the National and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal to dismiss the petition brought against him by the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Mr. Chris Nkwonta,
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Abaribe winner of the Abia South senatorial election, saying that he scored 53,086 votes to defeat Nkwonta with 27,998.
Nkwonta added that there were discrepancies evident in the face of the result in the polling units and wards which showed widespread irregularities in favour of Abaribe and his party and manifest non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the manual for election officials, as well as the regulations and guidelines issued by INEC for the conduct of the elections.
But in a petition which has INEC, Abaribe and PDP as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively, Nkwonta stated that the electoral umpire declared the senator elected in spite of the fact that the scores contained in the results declared did not represent the correct account of the actual votes polled by the candidates as shown by the polling units results for the election.
However in his notice of preliminary objection filed by his counsel, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, (SAN), Senator Abaribe urged the tribunal to strike out the petition for being incompetent.
He attacked some paragraphs of the petition which he contended were fraught with fictitious figures unrelated to the facts and figures material to the National Assembly (Abia South Senatorial district) election held on February 23, 2019 and March 9, 2019.
Abaribe specifically noted that the petitioners’ figures of 75, 735 purported accredited voters as well as the alleged 86, 774 votes were not figures known to have come from INEC or material to his election and return.
The senator’s counsel further argued that the tribunal lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain “issues, events and facts used for the conduct of the 2019 gubernatorial elections” as contained in the paragraph 20 of the petition.
Ume argued that the processes filed by the petitioners did not have the mandatory National Identification Number (NIM) of the legal practitioner that presented them for filling.
The senior lawyer further argued on behalf of his client that “all paragraphs of the petition including but not limited to paragraphs 18, 19, 20, 21, 24 and 27 (3-4) and every other paragraph of the petition relating to and being grounded on the use of card reader or such device as exclusive means of accreditation of voters and or means of transmission of the election results of the National Assembly (Abia South senatorial district) held on February 23, 2019 and March 9, 2019, such being unknown to any legislation, are incompetent and liable to be struck out.”
In a six-paragraphed affidavit in support of the preliminary objection, Abaribe picked holes in the entire petition as he highlighted some erroneous facts aimed at misinforming the tribunal.
He submitted that contrary to paragraph 46 of the petition, “the said 82 polling units are mere conjecture not worthy for the attention of the tribunal.”
That the prayers made and sought, being in contradiction with the facts of the election and the pleadings therein, render the petition completely incompetent and liable to be dismissed and or struck out.