September 9, 2023
It was a mixed grill yesterday for some members of the National Assembly after the election petition tribunals in the various states either nullified or upheld their elections in the February/March polls.
All Progressives Congress’ Senator Emmanuel Udende (Benue North East), Peoples Democratic Party’s Fred Agbebi (Sagbama/Ekeremor) and Labour Party’s Professor Sunday Nnamchi (Enugu East/Isi Uzo) were sacked by the tribunals while their opponents were declared winners instead.
But Senators Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), Kaka Lawan (APC, Borno Central), Aniekan Bassey (PDP, Akwa Ibom North East), Solomon Adeola (APC, Ogun West) as well as Rep Mohammed Alkali (Peoples Redemption Party, Jos North/Bassa) pulled through as their elections were upheld.
In a split decision of two to one, the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Benue State declared former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam of the PDP, as the winner of the Benue North-East Senatorial District.
Suswam had challenged the declaration of Senator Emmanuel Udende by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the 2023 elections.
However, Senator Suswam, who had challenged the declaration of Udende, was returned after a judgment that lasted more than three hours in Makurdi on Friday
The tribunal ruled that Udende did not score majority of the lawful votes cast during the February, 2023 election.
Umahi’s election in Ebonyi South upheld
Also yesterday, the Ebonyi State Election Petitions Tribunal affirmed the election of Senator David Umahi for Ebonyi South Senatorial zone.
Umahi, who is now the Minister of Works, had defeated Mr Linus Okorie of Labour Party and Senator Ama Nnachi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Both Senator Nnachi and Mr Okorie challenged the results in separate suits at the tribunal.
In its ruling, the tribunal ruled that Nnachi and the PDP failed to prove their allegation of illegal cancellation of results with a view to falsifying the results.
The tribunal said: “They failed to plead and tender voters register, number of PVCs collected and call voters who were disenfranchised to give evidence.
“They also failed to prove their allegation of over-voting. They didn’t tender the BVAs report, voters’ register in proof of their case.”
It declared that alleged irregularities cited by the petitioners in 68 out of the over 800 polling units in Ebonyi South Senatorial District did not substantially affect the result and return of the Second Respondent (Umahi).
The petition was dismissed for lacking in merit.
A similar fate befell Okorie’s petition.
The tribunal said the plaintiffs “failed to prove that the principle of margin of votes was applicable to the Petition. They failed to prove that the total number of PVCs collected in polling units where elections allegedly did not hold was more than the difference between the 1st Petitioner and 2nd Respondent.
“The Petitioners did not discharge the burden placed on them by the law. Their case therefore fails.”
Reacting to the judgment, Okorie said it neither served justice nor reflected the evidence presented.
His words:”The minimum expected justice, in the circumstances of that election, was to declare it inconclusive and order a supplementary election in, at least, the 16 polling units with over 10,000 collected PVCs where no elections held/results were not collated; in an election with a declared winning figure (margin of lead) of 2,882! Similar decisions abound from other tribunals across the country”.
“Whatever motivated the tribunal to so flagrantly ignore the weighty evidences before it, especially Certified True Copies of INEC results and the unambiguous provisions of section 137 of the Electoral Act 2022 in the circumstance, is best known to them.”
He said he would take his case to the Court of Appeal.
Lawan, Ndume confirmed as Borno Central/South Senators
The Borno State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal struck out a petition filed by PDP’s Mohammed Kumalia, challenging the victory of Borno Central Senator, Barrister Kaka Shehu Lawan.
The three-man tribunal of Justices M.E Anenih, Justice A.I. Ityonyman and Justice A.O. Adeniji held that the petitioner “failed to present cogent, reliable and compelling evidence that could be sufficient to affect the poll’s result as declared by INEC”.
Scores of residents and Lawan’s supporters trooped to the streets in jubilation as news of his victory at the tribunal spread.
The tribunal also upheld the election of Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South).
It ruled that the plaintiff, Haske Kudla of the PDP, failed to present cogent, reliable and compelling evidence to affect the poll’s result as declared by INEC.
An elated Ndume said the ruling would further strengthen his resolve to serve his constituency with renewed vigour.
He said: “My dear people of southern Borno Senatorial District and all our well-wishers across the country, it is with great gratitude to the Almighty God that I address you on this auspicious day in which God has caused us to enjoy another victory, given that a short while ago, the Elections Tribunal affirmed my electoral victory over PDP’s candidate by outrightly dismissing the petition he filed against my triumph.
“This noble ruling has further reaffirmed the mandate which you gave me in the last election.
“As you may have noted, this petition that has just been dismissed has never ever deterred me from performing my functions as your senator and which goes to say that the court case has never been a distraction to me and I couldn’t have used it as an excuse to deny our people the benefits of their trust in me.
“I consider the petition by my defeated opponent as an exercise of his democratic rights, which cannot be denied.
“As we celebrate this ruling, I wish to call on all my supporters to celebrate this victory with modesty and with utmost respect for the losing camp without any form of ill will. Let us all be practitioners of the decency and decorum we are known for.
This victory is not for Ndume; this victory is for all Borno South constituents.”
Bassey hails tribunal for validating his election
Senator Aniekan Bassey (PDP, Akwa Ibom North-East) was full of praise yesterday for the Justice B.A. Taiwo-led tribunal after validating his election.
He said the judgment upheld the rule of law against emotions and sentiments.
He asked his opponent, Mr. Emaeyak Ukpong of the APC, to join hands with him for the progress of the district and Akwa Ibom State