Senator Andy Uba, the immediate past senator for Anambra South Senatorial District may have underestimated the enormity of the last general election in the area and may have gone to sleep oblivious of the capacity of Ifeanyi Ubah, who was the senatorial candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the February 23 National Assembly elections in Anambra South.
As a result, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially declared the oil magnate winner of the election, it came like a shocker to Senator Uba and many people in Anambra State, considering how Ubah defeated Andy and his younger brother, Chris, in the senatorial poll.
Andy, who was then the incumbent senator representing Anambra South in the Red Chamber, contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), while Chris was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ifeanyi Ubah’s victory without any iota of doubt was a surprise to many people in Anambra State. For Chris Uba, the self-styled political godfather of the state, his loss at the senatorial poll painted a picture of a grand master beaten in his own game in a local derby. Chris, who had installed some public office holders in Anambra State as a political godfather in the past failed to actualise his own political aspiration. His brother, Andy, also failed to return to the Senate for third consecutive term.
The businessman turned politician, polled 87,081 votes to defeat 26 others. His closest rival was Chris (PDP), who got 62,462 votes to place second. Nicholas Ukachukwu of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) came third with 51,269 votes, while Andy (APC), got 13,245 votes to place a distant fourth.
The Uba brothers, who felt dissatisfied with the outcome of the February 23 National Assembly election, took their case to the state’s National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Awka. But rather than getting succour at the tribunal, their predicaments deepened further, as the three-man panel affirmed that Ifeanyi Ubah was validly elected and that the two petitioners, Chris and Andy could not prove their respective cases beyond reasonable doubt.
The tribunal dismissed all the 19 witnesses called by the petitioners, observing that the testimonies of the witnesses have evidential value and that it was bound to reject the evidences because the prosecution witness 1, who relied on the card reader did not prove the allegations leveled against the respondent.
Reacting to the ruling, Senator Ubah, who dedicate the victory to God, his wife, children and party, said the verdict in his favour is an attestation of both “the perfect will of God and the irrefutable choice of the good people of Anambra South at the February 23 polls”.
He described the judgement as victory for not only his senatorial district, but also for the entire people of Anambra State. He further stated that the ruling reinforces the confidence the people have in the judiciary.
He added that his victory is a good development for the advancement of democracy in Nigeria, noting that the judiciary has shown that it is indeed the last hope for all.
But, the Uba brothers were dissatisfied with the ruling of the tribunal and the duo has approached the Court of Appeal praying it to upturn the judgement on the ground that the tribunal erred in the process.
Ever since tribunal ruled on the petition instituted by the Ubas against Ifeanyi Uba, people have been x-raying the judgement placing the appeal alongside the ruling of the lower court.
This x-ray of the tribunal’s judgement is being considered by legal analysts on the submissions of the 19 witnesses and proof of manifest rigging and falsification of election results, which Justice Okara Ebimie Thelma, who delivered the judgement took time to elucidate as grounds upon which he gave his ruling.
The judge had held: “General comment on the Petitioner’s witnesses testimonies. PW1, PW10, PW14, PW16 and PW17 out of the 19 witnesses that testified for the Petitioner only five witnesses were polling unit agents for APC who gave evidence on what transpired in their polling unit but their testimonies were all impeached under cross examination. The tribunal therefore attaches very light weight to their testimonies only to the fact that they were within the Senatorial District on the day of election.
“The evidence of PW2, PW3, PW4, PW5, PW6, PW7, PW11, PW12, PW13, PW14, and PW18 who were ward collation/supervisory agents cannot be reliable as the evidence of the polling unit agents who were eye witnesses of all facts in their deposition. Having admitted under cross examination they were not at all the unit at the same time as they were moving round from one polling unit to the other. We therefore attach no probative value to their testimonies as roving agents.
“PW8 and PW9, these witnesses could not substantiate the allegation made in their depositions which were also badly discredited under cross examination. Their reference to voters reward voucher was vague and unsubstantiated and could not be linked to the 1st Respondent.”
“PW6, PW7, PW8, PW9, PW15, PW16, PW 17, PW18 and PW19 all deposed to the same set of facts in their affidavit. The question that comes to mind is could the same set of facts have happened in all the wards same time on the Election Day? This goes to show that such evidence is well rehearsed and makes such evidence unreliable see the holding of the court of Appeal.”
Another very curious finding of the tribunal in the evidence of these aforementioned set of witnesses is that a common denominator in their affidavit is the fact that card reader did not work during the February 23 elections.
Paragraph 3 of PW4, PW7, PW8, PW9, PW15, PW16, PW17, PW18 and PW19 witness statement on oath states: “The 11 witnesses as outlined above took a nose dive in their respective depositions of the 26th day of April and all relied on the ‘smart card data analysis’ product of a smart card that was not put to use during the elections. It is sure not the responsibility of this tribunal to choose and pick which line of evidence to follow between the two contradictory evidences of the above listed witnesses. This no doubt, has rendered the evidence of PW4, PW6, PW7, PW8, PW9, PW15, PW16, PW17, PW18 and PW19 very unreliable, no probative value or evidential value can be placed on such evidence of these witnesses.”