By Boluwaji Obahopo
LOKOJA—The State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Lokoja, Kogi State, yesterday upheld the election of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Momoh Lawal.
The tribunal, while upholding Lawal’s victory at the April 11 state assemblies election for Okene II constituency, declined the prayer of the petitioner, Umar Fari, of All Progressives Congress, APC, challenging the election and return of Lawal of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as winner of the election on the grounds of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.
The petitioner, who sought five reliefs, averred that Lawal’s election was invalidated by widespread malpractices and that he was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes, adding that the election was inconclusive in some polling units.
He added that results of eight units were signed by unauthorized persons, who were not designated Indepen-dent National Electoral Commission, INEC, staff.
However, Lawal’s counsel, in their preliminary objection, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the petitioners filed the petition when the results of the election were yet to be declared by INEC.
Delivering judgement, a member of the three-member tribunal, Justice Akintan Osadebe, said the April 11 election held in substantial compliance with the provi-sions of the Electoral Act.
Osadebe said: “No material evidence has been laid before this tribunal to prove that the first respondent was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
“This petition lacks merit and is hereby dismissed. The parties are to bear their respective costs.”