The Appeal Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo State capital yesterday upheld the appeal of business mogul and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu over the non-admittance in evidence the list of accredited voters register of Abia North obtained and duly signed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC by the election petition tribunal, in his case against Mr. Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Ruling in the suit/ CA// ETP/27/2015, Hon. Justice I. G. Mbaba described the ruling of the tribunal as not only misconceived but sad and absurd by rejecting the true certified copy of the INEC document, stating that the accredited voters register of Abia North, met the provisions of the Evidence Act in respect to computer generated data.
He noted that the accredited voters’ register was duly signed by both the head of ICT and the deputy director, legal department of INEC without any alteration. He stated that the respondents did not contest the veracity but had objected to its being tendered as an evidence because it was a computer generated data.
“The ruling of the tribunal has made nonsense of the Evidence Act and has shown their poor understanding of the Evidence Act that a true certified copy of a document represents the original of that document and the tribunal was wrong to fish for evidence to reject it when it said that the INEC should have come to prove that the copy was genuine. The respondents should pay N50,000 only as a cost of the Appeal to the appellant”, Justice Mbaba ruled.
The counsel to Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, Hippolatius Uzoma Ude said that the crux of the appeal was for the Court of Appeal to set aside the decision of the election petition panel sitting in Umuahia which rejected the list of accredited voters register of Abia North from the ICT department of the Independent National Electoral Commission from Abuja on the ground that it does not comply with section 84 (1&2) of the Evidence Act 2011.
“The Judges of the Court of Appeal in its ruling have proved us right and they said that the ruling of the tribunal was misconceived which negated section 84 (1&2), that the document was admissible having been duly certified by the public official who is in custody of the original document and that the public officer does not have to come before the court to tender it. So, the Court of Appeal has exercised its powers under section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act of 2014 and admitted on their own the evidence rejected by the tribunal and that has given the appellant the edge to argue his matter to refer to that document”, he added.