The election of Chris Adaji, Benue Assembly Deputy Speaker, has been nullified by the National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, Benue State capital.
Justice R. O. Odudu, the Chairman of the Tribunal, 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.
Recalls that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said in its election declaration that Adaji led with 397 votes and the Tribunal finds the margin is less than the 1, 056 votes cancelled in the two polling units of Igbanomaje and Odega.
The decision of the court stressed that INEC ought not to have made final declaration without ordering for a rerun in the affected polling units other than declaring an inconclusive poll.
Justice Odudu ruled 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 Chairman of the Tribunal, therefore, issued an order for withdrawer of a 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.
Speaking after the ruling, Vincent Tortsugh, who appeared for the petitioners, described the decision of the Tribunal as “reasonable,” adding that “we didn’t expect anything other than this.”
On the other hand, Musa Ohimini Alechenu, the APC candidate, described the decision as a testimony of the wishes of the people.
Alechenu 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 for standing behind me during the period of the legal struggle,” Alechenu said while insisting that he will win the rerun ballot.
On his part, Ken Ikonne, Adaji’s counsel, said he will consult his client before taking any further decision.