From Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia
The motion filed by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, through his lawyers, denying that he did not receive petition documents filed by the former governor of Abia State , Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, served him by the bailiff of the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia was yesterday thrown out on the grounds that there was no truth in his claim.
The tribunal had, last Thursday, reserved ruling on the motion for yesterday, which was filed by Ohuabunwa through his team of lawyers led by Ukpai Ukairo.
Dr Kalu, the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) senatorial candidate for Abia North challenged the declaration of Ohuabunwa as winner of the Abia North Senatorial rerun election held on March 5, 2016 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The bailiff had, in an affidavit she filed before the tribunal, stated that Ohuabunwa was served at Arochukwu stadium, near his country home, during the reception for his thanksgiving service at about 10:20am on the day.
She went ahead to depose that Ohuabunwa went ahead to shout on her and asked his boys to beat her up when he realised that what he was being served was a petition from Kalu, but for the intervention of some good Abians who were able to identify her as a bailiff, she would have been further harassed. But, in a swift reaction, Ohuabunwa filed another affidavit to counter the bailiffs affidavit, denying that he was served.
The tribunal chairman, Justice James Abundaga, noted that the contradiction of the first respondent did much damage to the prayer he made in the motion, then retorted: “How did the first respondent know about the matter if he was not served; the only reasonable conclusion is that he was served,” he said. He stated further that “the affidavit and counter affidavit of Ohuabunwa filed are contradictory. “He said he was not served at 10:20am because he was in church for thanksgiving service and again in his counter affidavit that he was at Atani Arochukwu attending to friends, which shows inconsistency.
Which one do we believe, he queried. “The averments in paragraph four of the respondents claim if juxtaposed against the affidavit of the bailiff in paragraph four will not stand. His claim that there is no stadium at Arochukwu is an after thought, therefore, his claim that he was not served does not hold,” the judge said, and threw out the motion of the first respondent.
Mr. Perfect Okorie, counsel to Dr Orji Uzor Kalu and PPA candidate in the election, in an interview said Ohuabunwa lied about the service. He said the proceeding could continue without draw back because the tribunal has proved that he was properly served.
The tribunal also granted Kalu’s motion to inspect materials used in the election, but, however, declared that the first and second to ninth respondents may join in the inspection if they wish to save time since they did not formally file any motion to be joined in the inspection. Earlier, the tribunal chairman, Justice Abundaga, had in his inaugural speech assured all parties of fairness without regard to technicality.
Hear him: “It must be clearly placed on record that we are not here to upturn the electoral victory of the respondent nor to endorse it. Ours is to meticulously consider all the grievances brought before us and the responses to those grievances and where such grievances are justified correct them and where found to be frivolous to say so.” He said there was no room for unnecessary adjournments because time is of essence even as he urged the press to avoid sensational reporting of the matter.