By Mathew Dadiya
Labour Party Senatorial Candidate for Abia North in the 2023 Senatorial Election, Nnamdi Iroh-Oji, has pleaded with the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos that since the former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu had admitted before the court that he was convicted of fraud and should not be convicted twice, his election should be nullified.
Iroh-Oji made the appeal after the tribunal a few weeks ago affirmed the election of Orji Kalu.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had announced Kalu as scoring 30,805 votes to Iroh-Oji’s 25,540 votes in the February 25 election.
Displeased with the outcome of the election, the LP candidate approached the tribunal challenging the declaration, citing Orji Kalu’s conviction and the conduct of the election which he said did not follow guidelines set by INEC and the provision of the electoral act 2022 as amended.
Leading his team of lawyers, Bert C. Iqwilo, SAN, he argued before the Court of Appeal in Lagos that “Kalu admitted before the court that he should not be retried for case of fraud” he was being prosecuted for by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.
The former Abia State Governor was being tried for N7.1 fraud which the EFCC said was stolen during his time as governor.
He was tried and convicted when he was serving a 12-year jail term as a Senator when the Supreme Court, on 8 May 2020, nullified the proceedings leading to his and his co-defendants’ conviction.
The Supreme Court’s judgment was delivered based on an appeal by Kalu’s co-defendant, Ude Udeogu, leading to a retrial order at the Federal High Court by the apex court.
Iro-Orji argued that Kalu was not involved in the appeal leading to the nullification of his conviction rather approached the Federal High Court to defend his conviction which led to the judgment delivered by Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja in September 2021 stopping his retrial.
The LP candidate argued that by admitting and stopping his retrial, Kalu, who was soon after released from Kuje Prison, should still be serving his jail term or effectively be “an Ex-Convict who should not be qualified to stand for election since it’s less than 10 years.”
He also prayed the court to look into the conduct and declaration of the election made by INEC since “over 100 polling units were disenfranchised” as the number of people who failed to vote far outnumbered the difference in the votes between the winner and the first runner-up.
The court has not set the date for ruling after listening to the argument between the parties.