The Benue State National/ State Assembly Election Tribunal, sitting in Makurdi, the state capital, has nullified the election of Chris Adaji of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner of the 2019 Ohimini State Constituency election.
Justice R.O. Odudu, Chairman of the Tribunal, who delivered the lead judgment, held that the margin with which Adaji, deputy speaker of the state house of assembly, led Musa Alechenu Ohimini of All Progressives Congress (APC), is less than the number of votes cancelled.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaration, Adaji led with 397 votes, and the tribunal discovered that the margin is less than the 1,056 votes cancelled in the two polling units of Igbanomaje and Odega.
The tribunal held that INEC ought not to have made final declaration without ordering for a re-run in the affected polling units other than declaring an inconclusive poll.
Justice Odudu noted 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 the certificate of return issued to Adaji, and directed INEC to conduct a re-run in the two polling units where elections were cancelled within 90 days.
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.”
Alechenu described the decision as the wish of the people.
He said the judiciary has affirmed that it remains the hope of the common 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.
Adaji’s counsel, Ken Ikonne, stated that he will consult his client before taking any further decision.
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