BY PETER DURU, MAKURDI
The Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division, has annulled the election of the immediate past Senate President, Senator David Mark.
The Court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh elections in the Benue South senatorial district within 90 days.
Mark’s victory at the March 28th., 2015 National Assembly elections, was challenged by Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who petitioned the Benue state Legislative Houses elections tribunal asking for the cancellation of the election and an order detailing INEC to conduct fresh election in the district.
The Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu led trial panel had on October 7th., 2015 dismissed Onjeh’s petition on the ground that evidences tendered before the tribunal were documentary hearsay evidences.
However, in a unanimous judgement read by Justice Peter Ige, the appellate court dismissed the judgement of the tribunal and upheld the plea of the appellant that Mark’s election failed substantially to meet with the provisions of paragraphs 39 and 40 of the INEC approved electoral guidelines and sections 73 and 74 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The panel of jurists also questioned the failure of the trial court to admit evidences tendered by the appellant to canvass his case and in another instance refer to the same evidence to arrive at its decision.
Justice Ige thus held that, “the lower tribunal cannot be seen to blow hot and cold at the same time. The appellant has established his case on the balance of probability. It is our considered view that the appellant’s appeal is meritorious.
“The appellant showed by oral evidence that collation of results was still ongoing a day after the declaration of results of the election in seven local government areas of the district.
“The judgement of Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu led tribunal of October 7th., 2015 dismissing the petition is nullified. Therefore the election of Senator David Mark is hereby set aside.
“INEC is by this judgement to conduct fresh senatorial election in the Benue South district within 90 days.”