By Leonard Okachie
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal 4, sitting in Umuahia, on Thursday, admitted in evidence documents alleging that the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Benjamin Kalu, have discrepancies in his credentials.
The documents were tendered by the Labour Party Candidate in the February 25 National Assembly poll in Bende Federal Constituency of Abia, Chief Frank Chinasa.
Chinasa also testified as a star witness before the Hon. Justice Samson Gang-led three-member panel.
Some of the documents tendered by Chinasa’s Lead Counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN), included Kalu’s birth certificate, West African School Certificate, first degree certificate issued by the University of Calabar and NYSC Certificate, among others.
Usman argued that while some of the Certified True Copies (CTCs) of the documents deposed to bore Osisiogu Benjamin Okezie, others bore Kalu Benjamin Okezie and Benjamin Okezie Osisiogu, respectively.
After his submission, the tribunal admitted all the nine documents and marked them as exhibits.
However, Mr Kelvin Nwufo (SAN), Counsel for Kalu, objected to the admissibility of the documents as exhibits but said he would give reasons for his objection in his final written address.
Also, Counsels for APC and INEC, Mr Vigilus Nwankwo, and Ogochukwu Onyekwulije, respectively, objected to the admissibility of the documents.
They promised to adduce their reasons for their objections in their final written addresses.
The tribunal also admitted in evidence, the result of the election, which the petitioners alleged was manipulated by INEC in favour of Kalu and APC.
Chinasa alleged that INEC awarded him 6,898 votes and 10,020 votes to Kalu.
He also tendered a copy of his protest letter to INEC, alleging a manipulation of the election result, which was also admitted as exhibit.
Responding under cross-examination, Chinasa said that he was not aware of the harmonisation of Kalu’s names.
He also denied knowledge of a High Court judgment confirming the said harmonisation.
He further told the tribunal that he did not obtain the CTCs of the documents tendered “individually” but “summarily”.
The matter was later adjourned to Saturday, when Kalu is expected to give his defence and face cross-examination.
In another development, the tribunal admitted in evidence, the deposition by the Action Alliance (AA) Candidate in the election, Mr Ifeanyi Igbokwe, that his party’s name and logo were excluded from the ballot.
A CTC of the party’s protest letter to INEC on the exclusion was tendered in evidence by its National Secretary, Amb. Suleiman Abdulrasheed, and admitted as exhibit.
Suleiman told the tribunal that a Federal High Court, Abuja, had in a judgment in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1759/2022, delivered on November 4, 2022, ordered INEC to upload and publish Igbokwe’s name as the validly nominated AA candidate but INEC allegedly declined to do so. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sam Oditah