From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
The National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital yesterday nullified the election of the Deputy Speaker, Chris Adaji of the People’s Democratic Party PDP representing Ohimini State Constituency.
In his judgement, Chairman of the Tribunal, Honourable Justice R. O. Odudu, who delivered the lead judgment held that the margin with which Adaji led Musa Alechenu Ohimini of All Progressives Congress, APC is less than the number of votes cancelled.
It should be noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had declared Adaji winner of the election having led with 397 votes.
But the tribunal ruled that the margin is less than the 1, 056 votes cancelled in the two polling units of Igbanomaje and Odega.
Justice Odudu faulted INEC’s final declaration, maintaining that the body should have ordered for a rerun in the affected polling units instead of declaring the poll inconclusive.
He also, held that the declaration and return of Adaji without a rerun in Otega and Ogadagba ward is invalid by reason of non-substantial compliance with Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
The court therefore, issued an order for withdrawal of certificate of return issued to Adaji and an order directing INEC to conduct rerun election in the two polling units where elections were cancelled within 90 days.
The APC candidate, Musa Ohimini Alechenu described the decision as a testimony of the wishes of the people.
He said by the decision, the judiciary has reaffirmed that it remains the hope of the people.
“I want to appreciate the Tribunal for the good job done. Let me appreciate the people of Ohimini fpr standing behind me during the period of the legal struggle,” Alechenu said while insisting that he will win the rerun ballot.
Adaji’s counsel, Ken Ikonne said he will consult his client before taking any further decision.