The Benue State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by Hon Terhemen Tatzoor of the Peoples Democratic Party, challenging the election of Dr Samuel Ortom of the All Progressives Congress, APC on the ground that the petitioner was not able to substantially prove his case.
However, counsel to Tarzoor, Barr DS Kertyo said his client will appeal the judgment as some of the issues he canvassed for were neglected by the tribunal.
Tarzoor, in his petition, had contended that Ortom was not qualified to contest the governorship election held on April 11, 2015, having not satisfied the mandatory requirement of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended as well as the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He prayed that he should be returned unopposed having scored the highest valid votes cast in the election.
But in a judgment that lasted for more than three hours, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Elizabeth Karatu said the petitioner failed to prove his case on the strength of the case and instead relied on the evidence provided by witnesses.
“The petitioner was not able to prove substantially that the first respondent was its member. The letter of resignation of the first respondent was not dislodged…the petitioner must prove his case on the strength of his case and not on that of the witness,” she stressed.
Justice Karatu who said the tribunal could not grant prayers not pleaded had however ruled that the tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the petition, stressing that petitions are heard on their merit as the days where petitions were judged by technicalities were over.
Relying on relevant laws, the tribunal chairman also said the petitioner was not an interloper, his petition a pre-election matter or an abuse of court process, saying since he was a candidate who participated in the election, he has the locus to challenge it.
She further stated that the “reliefs and parties are not the same and so the suits are not the same. The petitioner was not a party before the Federal High Court Makurdi, therefore the petitioner was not an abuse of court process.”
Justice also stated that grounds two and three of the petition was not substantially supported by the petitioner.
Counsel to Ortom, Barr Moses Atai praised the tribunal for the judgment and promised that his client would extend a hand of fellowship to the petitioner.