The governorship election petition tribunals of Benue and Bauchi states on Wednesday affirmed the election victories of governors Samuel Ortom and Bala Mohammed respectively.
The duo’s elections were upheld in separate proceedings in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, and Bauchi, the Bauchi State capital, where the different tribunals sat.
In Benue, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Emmanuel Jime, had approached the tribunal seeking a cancellation of the election, alleging that the elections were marred by irregularities and not in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Jime and the APC further alleged that Governor Ortom of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not duly elected by lawful votes, maintaining that he (Jime) scored the highest number of valid votes and as such, should be declared winner of the election or in the alternative, order be made for a fresh election.
But in a nine-hour judgement delivered by Justice Henry Olusiyi, Chairman of the Tribunal, he held that the petitioner’s witness statements were contradictory, unreliable and not credible.
The judge added that their statements were incompetent frowning at their inability to identify documents and link them to the case which amounts to dumping the materials on the tribunal.
Justice Olusiyi also held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegation of over-voting, noting voters’ register and not the smart card reader remains the valid method to ascertain the number of registered voters in an elegant.
“Card reader can only be alternative and admissible if the National Assembly amends the Electoral Act to provide for it. Witnesses failed to prove allegation of over voting to warrant the cancellation of votes in polling units.
“We are satisfied that the result sheet presented to us by INEC is a true representation of votes cast in the election.
“We find no merit whatsoever in the petition. We hold that the election of Governor Samuel Ortom by INEC is affirmed,” Justice Olusiyi said in the judgment.
Similarly, Mohammed, the candidate of the PDP, was declared as the legitimately elected Governor of Bauchi State, according to the state’s governorship tribunal.
The APC and Mohammed Abubakar, its governorship candidate and immediate past state governor, approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Governor Mohammed as the winner of the 2019 governorship election held on April 9 and 23 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The petitioners alleged that over-voting and acts of non-compliance of the electoral act occurred in some polling units in Bogoro Tafawa Balewa and Bauchi local government areas of the state.
Byt delivering the decision of the tribunal, Justice Salihu Salisu, Chairman of the tribunal, dismissed the petition of the APC and Mohammed Abubakar, for lacking in merit.