Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Okezie Kalu says he has been vindicated on the validation of his name by the ruling of the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital which also upheld his election.
This is contained in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Levinus Nwabughiogu in Abuja.
Kalu, upon the receipt of the exciting news in Abuja, expresses immense gratitude to the judiciary for recognizing that he followed due process and other extant laws to validate his name.
While also thanking the people of Bende federal constituency on whose mandate he stands, the deputy speaker reiterates that his confidence in the judiciary to do justice to issues at all times was unwavering.
The candidate of the Labour Party in the February 25, 2023 national assembly elections, Frank Chinasa had petitioned the tribunal, seeking the nullification of Kalu’s election on the account of alleged inconsistency in his name.
Another person, shortly after Kalu’s first term election in 2019, Okey Ezeala had also approached the court seeking the nullification of the election on the same ground.
But Justice O A. Chijioke of an Umuahia High Court while delivering his judgement on the matter on August 25, 2021, ruled in favour of Kalu and subsequently awarded a cost to the petitioner for wasting the time of the court in a frivolous suit.
In a remarkable, unanimous judgment by the three-man panel read by the Chairman, Justice Samson Paul Gang on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, in Umuahia, the tribunal dismissed the petition and denied all the prayers of the petitioner for lacking in merit.
The panel held that Kalu’s certificates were never forged and that the names on the certificates were all his.
The tribunal also held that Kalu had since harmonized his names through a Deed Pool published in a federal gazette, backed with a newspaper publication of the change of name, insisting that the petitioner could not establish any case of certificate forgery against him.
It also confirmed that the harmonization of the deputy speaker’s name followed the laid down rules.
The tribunal further held that since the election results were never contested, Kalu therefore, remains the winner of the National Assembly elections for the Bende federal constituency in the House of Representatives.
The deputy speaker however, calls on his political detractors to shun frivolities, accept his rights under the extant laws, embrace the Will of God and the verdict of the tribunal as well as that of Ndi Bende and join him in the tasks of enacting good legislations for the good of the country.
Oduyemi Odumade, Edited By Grace Namiji
Written by: Elizabeth David