Benue Senator: Tribunal sacks APC’s Udende, declares PDP’s Suswam winner

The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal has sacked Senator Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress in Benue State.

The tribunal declared the one-time governor of the state, Senator Gabriel Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party, the winner of the senatorial election held on February 25, 2023.

Udende represents Benue North East Senatorial District in the red chamber.

The chairman of the panel, Justice Ory Zik-Ikeorha, and two justices entered judgment in favour of Suswam and PDP.

According to the judgment, Suswam and PDP fulfilled the requirement of the law in proving their case of irregularities such as mutilation, non-signing of documents, and non-inclusion of lawful votes among others.

One of the three members of the National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, however, held that evidence by PDP’s Gabriel Suswam was grossly insufficient to sustain his petition.

He, therefore, dismissed the petition and awarded the cost of N100,000 in favour of each of the respondents against the petitioners.

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Suswam and PDP’s petition was based on the argument that Udende did not score the majority of the lawful votes cast at the February 25 2023, Benue North East Senatorial District election.

According to the decision of the dissenting judgment, irregularities can’t be assumed.

The judge affirmed that the law is that the proper person to give an account of the irregularities are polling unit agents, noting that ward agents are not allowed to “give a global account” of what happened at polling units.

He said, “It is the decision of the court that Suswam’s PW9’s statement on oath was not front-loaded alongside the petition and cannot form part of the petition.

“The fact that documents are admitted in evidence from the Bar does not mean that value is attached to them without putting life in them.”

Justice Mohammed concluded that having failed to do the needful, he cannot be moved by the petitioners to interrogate or address the petitions page by page after failing to breathe life into the documents tendered.

“Evidence of 19 witnesses who were not party to the malpractices said to have occurred over 400 polling units cannot substantiate the petition. No magic can be done. Evidence is grossly insufficient to sustain the petition. See no merit in the petition.

“The petition is therefore dismissed, with the award of N100,000 cost in favour of each of the respondents and against the petitioners,” he submitted.

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