• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Update: Supreme Court affirms Ortom, Fintiri as duly elected governors

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that the governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, and Samuel Ortom of Benue were duly elected in the March 9 governorship election in their respective states.

The 7-man panel with Justice Sylvester Ngwuta as the presiding Justice held that the two appeals against the governors’ election failed because the appellants were unable to prove their cases.

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Yola, Adamawa State capital had dismissed the case filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the election of  Fintiri of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Appeal Court had also dismissed the appeal by Jubrila Bindow, the APC candidate, against Orotm.

The tribunal declared that the petition was dismissed because it lacked merit.

The tribunal chairman said the petitioner also failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

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The Court said the petitioner could not prove the case of over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act as well as irregularities during the March 2019  re-run governorship election.

The judge averred that even the witnesses of the APC were inconsistent in their submissions, prompting him to discard their submissions.

In affirming Fentiri’s election,  Justice Ahmed Dantijo, who read the judgment said that “the applicant cannot rely on smart card alone which the petition is founded.”

He said Bindow did not have enough facts to prove the allegation of over-voting and irregularities in his appeal against Fintiri.

He held the two lower courts were right to have said the petitioner was unable to make out his case. The panel, therefore, dismissed the appeal.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Fintiri winner of the re-run election on March 28, 2019.

INEC said Fintiri polled 376,552 votes to defeat the then incumbent governor,  Bindow of the APC, who got 336,386 votes.

In dismissing the appeal of Emmanuel Jime, candidate of the APC against PDP candidate, Ortom, Justice Ngwuta, who read the judgment, said the appeal had no weight to affect the findings of the panel of justices.

The apex court, in a unanimous judgment by the seven-man panel of justices led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, dismissed the appeal, saying the panel found no reason to disturb the concurrent decisions of both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal that returned Ortom as the valid winner of the gubernatorial contest that held on March 9, 2019.

Ngwuta consequently dismissed Jime’s appeal, holding that he was unable to marshal out material facts that would have helped his appeal.

Arguing his clients’ appeal on Tuesday, Yusuf Ali (SAN), counsel to Jime, urged the apex court to nullify Ortom’s election.

Ali noted that the disparity between the number of accredited voters recorded by the smart card reader machines used for the conduct of the election and the number of votes recorded had rendered the election invalid.

“There must be an agreement between the number of accredited voters and the total votes,” he said.

He added that dismissing his clients’ appeal would imply that funds spent on putting the card reader system in place were in vain.

He also argued that contrary to the belief of the respondents to the appeal, his clients were not required to call witnesses from each of the disputed polling units because their case was not built on allegations of violence which would require eyewitnesses to testify about.