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BusinessDay

Appeal Court upholds Orton’s election

Supreme Court affirms Ortom as duly Benue governor

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday upheld the election of Samuel Ortom of Benue State as duly the elected governor in the 2019 governorship poll.

The appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the poll, Emmanuel Jime, for lacking in merit.

In a unanimous judgment, delivered by Justice Fred Oho, the court also resolved all the four issues raised against the appellants.

The court also awarded the sum of N150,000 fine against the governorship candidate of the APC and his party.

Governor Ortom contested for re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after defecting from the APC in 2018.

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi had on October 7, 2019, delivered judgement affirming the election of Governor Ortom as duly elected.

Dissatisfied by the ruling of the tribunal, Jime approached the appellate court, urging it to set aside the decision of the trial court.

At the hearing in Abuja last week, counsel to Jime and APC, Yusuf Alli (SAN), maintained that the election which returned Ortom as governor did not comply with the provisions of the law.

He also argued that the card readers deployed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were not used in some areas to the conduct of the election. He therefore prayed the appeal panel to upturn the decision of the tribunal.

In their separate arguments, counsel to Ortom, Hon (SAN); that of INEC, Offiong Offiong (SAN) and Chris Uche (SAN) of the PDP, urged the appeal panel to, not only dismiss the appeal, but also award cost against Jime and APC.

The trio argued that the appellant failed to provide witnesses “both in quantity and in quality”, at the trial court, to substantiate the claim that there were irregularities in the conduct of the poll.

The counsel maintained that the issue of card readers, which the appellant solely relied on, had been settled in various judgements by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

On the issue of non compliance with the rules guiding the conduct of elections, the counsel to respondents argued that, mere guidelines or election manuals from INEC could not have nullified the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), adding that the appellant did not in any way, cite any section of the Electoral Act or the 1999 Constitution that was breached during the conduct of the election.

 

Felix Omohomhion, Abuja