Akume to appeal tribunal verdict
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Senator George Akume, in the February 23 Senatorial election, have filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal against the judgment of the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, Makurdi, Benue State.
The tribunal had thrown out the petition filed by Senator Akume challenging the victory of Senator Emmanuel Orker-Jev, who represents Benue North-West Senatorial District.
Akume and his party had asked the tribunal to upturn Orker-Jev’s victory and declare him as the substantive winner of the election.
However, Justice P. O Odudu-led tribunal in its judgment held dismissed the petition on the ground that the petition challenging the election did not cover less than 404 polling units but the petitioner had brought less than 20 witnesses.
The tribunal, therefore, dismissed the petition and awarded N100,000 damages each to the first and second respondents – Orker-Jev and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But not satisfied with the judgment, Senator Akume has filed an appeal against the judgment on 14 grounds.
Some of the grounds include that the tribunal erred in law when it failed to nullify the election in Buruku, Gwer West and Gboko Local Government Areas of Benue State, when there was established evidence of over-voting in the said Local Government Areas, stressing that the judgment occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice.
The appellant also faulted the position of the tribunal when it said that “in the instant petition, the petitioners have not led evidence polling unit by polling unit to show that the first respondent was not elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the senatorial election that was conducted by the third respondent on February 23.
“Even if the petitioners prove their claims in not more than 20 polling unit through the witnesses who testified in the case, it would have not made any change in the total votes scored by the first respondent during the election when compared with the margin of win.
“It is practically impossible for the number of eligible voters in 20 polling unit to swallow the margin of win between the score of the first respondent and the petitioner which is 42,304 votes. With due respect, it is like a drop of water in a mighty ocean.”
Consequently, the Senator in the Court of Appeal is seeking an order, setting aside the entire judgment of the trial Tribunal except for the part of the judgment which held that Appellants were not outside the law in the issuance of pre-hearing notice in respect of the third respondent.
He is also seeking an order that the appellants be returned as the winner of the election held in the Benue North-west Senatorial District “having scored the highest number of valid votes cast.
In the alternative, the appellant is asking the court for an order nullifying the election conducted on the February 23, in the affected polling units, wards and Local Government Areas in dispute and in their stead, order for the conduct of rerun between the appellants and the first and second respondents