The National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Makurdi, has upheld the election of Godday Samuel as the House of Representatives member for Apa/Agatu Federal Constituency in Benue State.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Adamu Entonu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had dragged his successor, Samuel of Labour Party (LP) to the tribunal, challenging the later’s victory at the poll.
But chairman of the tribunal, Justice A A Adeleye, in his judgment, averred that Entonu and five other witnesses failed to prove the allegations of alteration of figures, allocation of votes and over voting against the defendant.
Adeleye noted that some of the allegations were criminal in nature. Hence, they needed to be proved beyond reasonable doubts as he maintained that Entonu and the other witnesses relied on hearsay information from polling agents who were not called as witnesses.
He observed that the documents tendered by the petitioner were hearsay documents, adding that that they were simply dumped on the tribunal.
The chairman further submitted that the petitioner did not tender registers nor the smart card reader to prove the allegation of over voting as he stressed that the respondent’s inability to call witnesses was used by counsel to the petitioner to make heavy wind.
Adeleye therefore, maintained that the tribunal did not have any compelling reason to nullify the election nor declare the petitioner winner as pleaded. So, it upheld the election of Samuel as winner of the poll.
Counsel to the defendant, Edward Okpe, while commenting on the judgment which lasted for about one and a half hours, said it was victory for democracy.
But the petitioner’s counsel, Mrs P Jooji, said her client would appeal against the judgment.