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NATIONAL and State election petition tribunal sitting in Makurdi, Benue State capital, has struck out the petition filed by Comrade Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressives Congress, APC, against Senator David Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for being filed out of time. The tribunal held that the petition was filed out of the stipulated 21 days as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A member of the three-man panel, Justice Chinyere Gloria Anulube, who delivered the ruling, described the petition as ‘defective and incurably bad’, maintaining that the tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it. She held that provisions of the Interpretation Act, Electoral Act, Practice Direction as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic, was clear on the time for filing an election petition which include the day of declaration of result of the election. The Tribunal, while relying on the Supreme Court decision in Okechukwu and INEC, also held that since the re-run itself was predicated upon the order of Appeal Court, “this tribunal cannot shy away from a superior court pronouncement.” “We hold that all pending applications before the court, having been overtaken by event and are thereby struck out”, Justice Anulube stated. Responding to the ruling, lead counsel to Senator Mark, Kenneth Ikonne said justice was well served, averring that the petition is just a waste of time as it is incompetent. Also speaking on the ruling, Special Assistant to Sen Mark on Media/Benue Liaison, Dr. Adakole Elijah hailed the decision of the tribunal, saying that the ruling was a classical manifestation of the revalidation of the mandate given to the former Senate President. “We defeated APC in March 2015, the APC and its candidate went to court and got the victory nullified and a re-run was ordered, we went back to the polls and came back victorious and that victory has today been re-affirmed by the tribunal”, Elijah said. In the same vein, chairman of Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, John Ngbede said, the court ruling is a re-affirmation of the election of Sen. Mark by Benue South senatorial district, adding “it shows that the future of PDP in the state is bright. God is with Mark.” Benue State PDP chairman, John Ngbede said the court ruling “is a re-affirmation of the election of Sen. Mark by Benue South zone. It shows that future of PDP in the state is bright. God is with Mark.” It will be recalled that Senator Mark was returned winner for the 6th time for his victory after the Appeal Tribunal ordered a rerun last February. Also reacting to the ruling, Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa congratulated the former Senate President as the tribunal upheld his election yesterday. In a congratulatory message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, and made available to newsmen, Governor Okowa extolled the leadership qualities of the former Senate President as a democrat, military general, astute administrator and a leader of impeccable disposition. According to Governor Okowa, the sterling contributions of Distinguished Senator Mark to the development of Nigeria and the legislature is legendary, commendable and worthy of emulation and I cannot, but rejoice with him on the occasion of his victory at the elections petition tribunal. Okowa said, “On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I wish to felicitate with Nigeria’s foremost lawmaker per excellence, the most ranking and distinguished Senator David Mark, as his prayers were granted today by the elections petitions tribunal sitting in Makurdi. “Today’s victory no doubt, is a clear indication of your overwhelming victory at the polls since 1999. I therefore commend the judiciary for renewing the faith of Nigerians to the tenets of rule of law and justice,” he said.


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