FROM Our Correspondent
National/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin, on Monday, upheld the declaration of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Senator Adams Oshiomhole, as winner of the February 25, 2023 Edo North Senatorial District election
The Tribunal also upheld the election of Hon. Ihonvbere Onozuanvbo Julius, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the member representing Owan Federal Constituency.
A three-man tribunal led by Justice O.A. Chuioke dismissed a petition filed by a former senator Francis Alimikhena, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP), on the February 25 election for lack of merit
Alimikhena, through his counsel, Rasak Isenalume, Esq had petitioned the former governor of the state Adams Oshiomhole alongside with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and All Progressives Congress (APC), Suit NO: EPT/ED/SEN/02/2023.
The 1st petitioner Alimikhena, in his petition asked the tribunal to declared non and void the election of the 2nd Respondent Oshiomhole over non compliance with the provisions of the electoral Act, 20222 as required by Law and declare him winner of the election.
He also urged the tribunal to nullified the election of the former APC National Chairman on the alleged ground of non transmission of election results through the use of BIVAS machine to IREV Portal
Alimikhena, on the alternative prayed the tribunal to order for a rerun of the election owing to what he described as the non substantially compliance with the law.
But in their separate responses, counsels to the respondents urged the tribunal to dismiss the case of the petitioners for lack of merit
Delivering the unanimous judgement on behalf of the tribunal Chairman, Justice Alero Akeredolu, held that the petitioners failed woefully to proved their case, adding that they can not rely on weakness or strength of the respondents to prove their cases against Oshiomhole.
Justice Akeredolu also held that the petitioners also failed to tender before the tribunal any relevant document to prove a case of non compliance as contained in their petitions.
The Tribunal, however, dismissed the petition against Oshiomhole in it entirety
Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the petitioners, Rasak Isenalume, expressed appreciation for the conduct of the case, disclosing that the tribunal came to a conclusion that the petition has no merit and dismissed the case with reasons.
Responding also, Counsel to Oshiomhole, represented by Famous Osawaru Esq. said that “they (petitioners) were not able to establish non compliance and the judges were able to cover all the areas.
“They called just one witness and closed their case and we didn’t bother to over flog the court but to argue on the point of law. It is a victory for democracy”
Earlier, the Tribunal also dismissed the petition filed by Jimoh Iruokhaime Ijiegbai Ojeiu and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against the INCE declaration of Ihonvbere as winner of the Owan Federal Constituency.
The tribunal also agreed with the argument of the lead counsel to Ihonvbere Mr Ehiogie West-Idahosa (SAN), that Ojeiu’s petition failed in it entirety.
Ojeiu and the PDP are 1st and 2nd petitioners in the petition marked EPT/ED/HR/03/2023.
Reacting to the over two hours judgement, Counsel to the 1st Petitioners, Rasak Isenalume, Esq, told our Correspendent that: “As lawyers, our duty is to present the case as it is and back it up with relevant laws.
“So, it is for the tribunal to decide you, know we cannot change the law. All sides must have their positions and we canvassed ours eloquently. But the tribunal has come with its decision.
“Well, like I told the tribunal, we will await further instructions from our clients as there is a further step to go.
“Most of this case we are citing today, they were cases done at the tribunal and reversed at the court of Appeal and affirmed by the Supreme Court”
But Counsel to Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, 2nd Respondent, Famous Osawaru, who held brief for West-Idahosa, SAN, described the judgement as master class, meticulously written, articulately delivered and a victory for the people of Owan Federal Constituency
He maintained that the tribunal dismissed the petition following the inability of the petitioners to prove the issues of over voting as alleged in their petition.
“They could not proved the elements to establish over votes in the election”, he said
On his part, Counsel to the respondent, the APC Victor Asumwan, esq said: “We are glad with the judgement and it is a reaffirmation of the decision of the electorates in Owan east and West Constituency when they voted massively for APC
“The tribunal has affirmed the position of the law that for one to prove over voting, there are certain requirements of the law you must meet.
“The petitioners obviously woefully failed to meet those provisions’, he averred.