From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
The Benue State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi will today, October 7, deliver judgment in the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime.
Jime is challenging the return of Governor Samuel Ortom of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the March 9, 2019 and March 23, 2019 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In the petition marked EPT/BN/GOV/01/2019, the petitioner is alleging that the election was marred with irregularities, over-voting and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
He prayed the court to declare him winner on the ground that he scored majority of lawful votes cast at the poll, with a margin of 2,224 votes.
The Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Henry Olusiyi adjourned the matter for judgment after counsels to the respective parties had adopted their final written address.
In their final written addresses, Counsel to Governor Ortom, Chief Sabastian Hon, SAN, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition and award substantial cost to the petitioners because according to him, it was riddled with fundamental errors, self-contradictory and contradicted the evidence tendered.
Hon averred that the petitioner admitted the errors in their final address, saying scores pleaded were different from those tabulated in their final address.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Offiong Offiong, SAN, held that the burden of proof was on the petitioner and that the standard of proof was on the balance of probabilities and not minimal proof, adding that the petitioners had failed to prove their case as required by law.
Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chris Uche, SAN, aligned himself with the counsel to Ortom and INEC, adding that the petition was lacking in merit, as it suffered acute evidential deficiency both in quality and quantity.
In his submission, Yusuf Ali, SAN, counsel to the petitioner argued that votes scored by Governor Ortom were unlawful, maintaining that with the front-loading of witness statements documents, tendered by APC could not be said to have been dumped on the tribunal.