Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has been urged to stop making a caricature of Abia State with his spurious claims that he had established RUGA settlements in the state when he was governor.
Senator Mao Ohuabunwa gave the charge yesterday in a chat with journalists in Umuahia, saying that Kalu’s unguarded utterances were at variance with the position of the people and state he supposedly represents in the Senate.
“Abia North has become a caricature in a few months that Kalu entered the Senate,” Ohuabunwa lamented, noting that the people of Abia North were embarrassed and ashamed of the activities of the former governor.
He said that Kalu should emulate the senators that had represented Abia North in the past, including Senators Ike Nwachukwu, late Senator Uche Chukwumerije who had always stood with the people on any national issue.
Meanwhile, the legal tussle to bring Kalu back from Senate would resume on Monday after the resumed hearing was stalled last Tuesday when it was discovered that some exhibits in the custody of the tribunal had disappeared.
Ohuabunwa, who is the immediate past Abia North senator, is in the panel two of the National and State Assemblies Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia challenging the outcome of the February 23, 2019 senatorial election for Abia North in which Kalu was declared victorious by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The shocking discovery of the missing documents came to light when the witnesses assembled by the petitioner, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, were being led in evidence by the counsel to the petitioner, Mr. Mike Onyeka who wanted the witnesses to identify the exhibits filed with the tribunal.
But the court clerk to the surprise of both the tribunal and the petitioner’s counsels frantically searched through the files and announced that he could not find them. Specifically the missing documents were in respect of the polling units in respect of Uzuakoli and Item wards.
Onyeka told the tribunal that there should be an explanation on why it was only the exhibits filed by the petitioner was missing, adding that “it has become a pattern”.
“You are in custody of those documents. The way you are losing them, if you don’t keep custody of the documents the documents will keep custody of you,” the counsel fired at the bewildered clerk, noting that his honesty was in doubt.
The issue of the missing exhibits raised a whole lot of arguments and suspicions. While the petitioner’s legal team was blaming the clerk for not keep proper custody of the documents the defence team was shifting the blame to the petitioner’s counsel, saying that they were the last to have dealings with documents.
The ensuing drama prompted the tribunal chairman, Justice Cornelius Akintayo to call for the tribunal to rise at exactly 11:02a.m. and after 48 minutes of deliberation inside the chamber the opposing counsels could not agree on replacing the missing documents with their own copies.
When the tribunal returned to resume proceedings Ohuabunwa’s counsel stood his ground, maintaining that the clean certified true copies must be replaced because if they should use their own copies the defence could raise some issues since they had already made notes on the documents.
Onyeka therefore asked the tribunal to adjourn proceeding for a week to enable the missing documents to be replaced. The tribunal chairman adjourned the matter to July 22, 2019 to enable INEC supply fresh certified true copies of the polling unit results to replace the missing ones.
The two witnesses, Okoronkwo Uma and Chukwuemeka Maduakolam that testified before proceedings abruptly stopped had told the tribunal that the polling unit results given to them were different from the results written at the ward level of collation of results.