BENUE State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal presided over by Justice Elizabeth Karatu, on Monday, upheld the election of Governor Samuel Ortom of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the over three hours judgment delivered in Makurdi, the state capital, the tribunal dismissed the petition against the governor on ground that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr. Terhemen Tarzoor, failed to prove his case substantially.
Justice Karatu held that Tarzoor did not plead credible evidence that Ortom was still member of the PDP as of the time the APC conducted its primaries.
The tribunal chairman added that the PDP failed to tender PDP register for Nzorov ward in Guma Local Government Area to prove that Ortom was still a member of the party at the time APC held its primaries.
The tribunal also struck out ground two of the petitioner’s relief seeking declaration of winner of the election having scored lawful, valid votes even as it also noted that he did not seek an order for fresh election and, as such, the court cannot grant any relief not sought by the petitioner.
“It is the duty of the petitioner to stand by his case and provide sufficient evidence. The court cannot take up such duty for him,” she said.
On the issue of evidence and witnesses provided by the petitioner, Justice Karatu held that the testimony of some of them could not be relied upon, especially the INEC witness who testified on behalf of Tarzoor.
The tribunal also dismissed the Digital Video Device presented by Tarzoor’s counsel, Dr. Cletus Tyokyaa, which was recorded from Channels TV to prove that Ortom was not a candidate of the APC.
“It is difficult to ascertain the veracity of those who appeared in the video. The petitioner should have brought them to court to testify. The court was not given an opportunity to cross-examine them,” she said.
On the issue whether the petitioner had the locus standi to institute a suit against the governor, the tribunal ruled in the affirmative, noting that the petitioner had the right, having been a participant in the governorship election in which INEC declared Ortom winner.
“Tarzoor was not a party in the case, so, the issue of res judicata does not come into play here. He is not a stranger in the election and his case does not in any way amount to abuse of court process.
“However, in the final analysis, we resolve most of the issues in favor of Ortom. The petition fails and the court upholds the election of the governor as declared by INEC,” Justice Karatu said.