News

July 11, 2023

Mzondu vs Tarkighir: Benue NASS Tribunal adjourns for judgement

court

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

The National and State Assemblies Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Makurdi has adjourned for judgement the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Mr. Benjamin Mzondu  challenging the return of Dickson Tarkighir of the All Progressives Congress, APC as the winner of February 25, 2023 Guma/Makurdi House of Representatives election.

Mzondu and the PDP are contesting that outcome of the election on the grounds that Mr. Tarkighir was at the time of the election not eligible to contest the election having allegedly presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, NEC.

When the matter came up for adoption of final written addresses, Mzondu through his counsel, Kenneth Ikonne, urged the tribunal to allow his pleadings and grant the reliefs sought.

He also urged the tribunal to “strike out the list of additional authorities filed by Mr. Tarkighir since it was filed out of time.”

Counsel to INEC, Abdujabar Aliyu, counsel to Mr. Tarkighir, Sam Oyege and that of  APC, Fidelis Mnyim while adopting their final written address urged the tribunal urged to “dismiss the petition and award cost against the petitioners.”

In the petition, the PDP and Mzondu allege that, Tarkighir presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, in his  form EC9(Affidavit in support of Personal particulars) wherein he certified under oath in paragraph “C” that he secured both a B.Sc and MBA degrees in 2004, whereas he secured no MBA degree in 2004, amongst other averment.

The petitioners also allege that, contrary to information supplied by the House of Representatives member in the Affidavit in Support of Personal particulars(Form EC-9) which he submitted to INEC, and certified on oath, the member representing Guma/Makurdi Federal Constituency “does not possess any of academic credentials claimed by him.”

The PDP and Mzondu also allege that, “contrary to the express requirement and stipulation in paragraph ‘C’ of the aforesaid Form EC-9, Mr. Tarkighir withheld/concealed the identities of the schools from which he obtained the said educational qualifications, thereby making the task of verification of both the schools and the claimed qualifications impossible.”

The petitioners are seeking a declaration that as at the time of the election, Tarkighir was not qualified to contest the said election.

They are seeking an order voiding the declaration and return of the Tarkighir as the winner of the election to the House of Representatives for the Guma/Makurdi Federal Constituency of Benue State.

They are also seeking “an order declaring and returning Benjamin Mzondu as the winner of the election to the House of Representatives for the Guma/Makurdi Federal Constituency of Benue State,” amongst other reliefs.