Nkwonta Asks Tribunal to Sack Abaribe as Senator

Davidson Iriekpen

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) senatorial candidate for Abia South senatorial district in the just concluded elections, Mr. Chris Nkwonta, has asked the National and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Umuahia to nullify the election of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Abaribe winner of the senatorial election, saying that he scored  53,086 votes to defeat Nkwonta with 27,998.

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 a correct account of the actual votes polled by the candidates as shown by the polling units results for the election.

He 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.

The petitioner contended that the election and return of 2nd respondent was invalid by reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), adding that his election and return were invalid by reason of corrupt practices;

He also submitted that the 2nd respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

The APGA candidate averred that in the approved guidelines and regulations for the conduct of 2019 elections issued by INEC, it was stated that the accreditation process shall comprise of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) reading the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and thereafter authenticating the voters’ fingerprints.

He stated further that where fingerprints are not authenticated by the SCR, the voter shall thumb print the register and provide his or her telephone in the appropriate box in the register.

He said despite INEC’s directive, accreditation and voting at the election were done in most polling units without the use of the card readers in total violation of the manual and guidelines.

Nkwonta argued that the return of the PDP candidate  as senator for Abia South pursuant to the election of February 23 and March 9, 2019 was void due to the substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and which non-compliance substantially  affected the result of the election.

He concluded that the 1st respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast and did not satisfy the mandatory constitutional threshold and spread across the local government areas of the state.

He also added that the election and return of the 2nd respondent as senator of Abia South senatorial district was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and should be nullified.

The petitioner said he won majority of the lawful votes cast during the election and supplementary election, and should be duly declared elected as senator.

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