The Benue State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Monday upheld the election of Governor Samuel Ortom.
The candidate for the All Progressives Congress, Emmanuel Jime had challenged the election of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, on the grounds that the elections were marred by irregularities and not in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
Jime in his petition further alleged that the Governor was not duly elected by lawful votes, maintaining that he (Jime) scored the highest number of valid votes and as such, should be declared a winner of the election or in the alternative, order be made for a fresh election.
But the PDP candidate, Governor Ortom stated that the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, adding that non-substantial compliance did not affect the result of the election.
During the hearing of the petition, Jime called 59 witnesses, Ortom called only once while the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC did not call any witness.
In a nine-hour judgement delivered by Chairman of the Tribunal Justice Henry Olusiyi, he held that the Petitioner’s witness statements were contradictory, unreliable and not credible.
The judge added that their statements were incompetent frowning at their inability to identify documents and link them to the case which amounts to dumping the materials on the tribunal.
Justice Olusiyi also held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegation of over-voting, noting voters’ register and not the smart card reader remains the valid method to ascertain the number of registered voters in an elegant.
“Card reader can only be alternative and admissible if the National Assembly amends the Electoral Act to provide for it. Witnesses failed to prove allegation of over voting to warrant the cancellation of votes in polling units.
“We are satisfied that the result sheet presented to us by INEC is a true representation of votes cast in the election.
“We find no merit whatsoever in the petition. We hold that the election of Governor Samuel Ortom by INEC is affirmed,” Justice Olusiyi said in the judgment.