Change of name; LP candidate ask tribunal to disqualify reps deputy speaker election



Ogbonnaya Ikokwu, Umuahia

The Labour Party candidate for the Bende Federal Constituency February 18, 2023 presidental and National Assembly Election, Chief Frank Chinasa, has asked the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia the Abia State capital to nullify the election of the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives Chief Benjamin Kalu.

The petition through his lead counsel Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) during the submission of final written address on Monday cited the discrepancy in various names found in the documents Kalu, submited to the Independent National Electoral Commission without a valid change of name as the basis for his disqualification.

He wondered why the respondent has failed to tender original certificates bearing the various names he claimed, rather he relied only on photocopies in all the documents submited to the tribunal.

Usman, argued that the onus solely lies on the respondent to prove that the certificate tender to the INEC were genuine owning to the different names on them.

He said, “The respondent submited
nine certificate with nine different names and we are saying that nobody can claim that those certificate belongs to him.

“So we have prayed the Court to disqualify him on the fact that none of the nine certificate can be said to belong to him. It’s for the court to decide we can’t say more than that.

The defendant through his lead counsel Mr Kelvin Nwufu, however urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, for lacking in merit and
the inability of the petitioner to prove that documents submitted to INEC did not belong to him.

He argued that his client follow the due process of the law in doing his change of name, adding his change of name was properly documented and published in an official gazette of the federal republic.

Responding to the allegation that Kalu, did not submit any orginal certificate, he said that he submitted his first school leaving certificate, degree certificate and law school certificate to INEC.

He said,”The judgement the petitioner were citing has a different principle of law. The petitioner are raising issues that are concerned in a judgement in the case of the People Democratic Party, against Deji, they are saying that the supreme Court said in view of that judgement Benjamin Kalu is not qualify to contest the election, but in that case the supreme Court said a change of name is properly by the virtue of a deal code and publishing same in the official gazette of the federal republic of Nigeria and that was what our client did.

“Our prayer to the Court in summary is the dismissal of the petition on ground that our client is qualifed and he did what the law request of him to do in the change of his name.

“Besides the issue of change of name has been Judicially determined by a High Court judgement and there was no appeal on it , so bringing it now before the tribunal is of no effect”.

Also the counsel to the All Progressive Congress Mr Viginus Nwankwo, told the court to dismiss the petition following the inability of the petitioner to prove their case beyond every reasonable doubt.

Citing a supreme Court Judgement Oyetola vs Adeleke, he argued that onus of proves lies on the petitioner to prove that the documents rendered by defendant did not belong to him.

The tribunal lead by Hon Justice Samson P. Gang, while admitting the address by the parties said a date for judgement will be communicated to them in due time.