State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Lokoja had upheld the April 11, election of Alhaji Momoh-Jimoh Lawal, the Speaker of Kogi state House of Assembly, as the winner of the Okene II state constituency election.
The tribunal affirmed the election on Thursday in Lokoja in its judgment on a petition filed by Umar Fari of All Progressives Congress, APC, who challenged the election and return of Lawal of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as winner of the said election.
In the petition that has Lawal, PDP and INEC as respondents, the petitioners (Fari and APC), prayed to the tribunal to nullify the election on the grounds of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (As amended).
They (petitioners) also submitted that the election was invalidated by reason of widespread malpractices, and that the 1st respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the said election.
The APC candidate who sought five reliefs also submitted that the election was inconclusive in some polling units while votes were recorded in favour of the 1st respondent, emphasising further that results of eight units were signed by unauthorized persons who were not designated INEC staff.
In their preliminary objection, the respondents told the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the ground that the petitioners filed the petition when the results of the election were yet to be declared by INEC.
In their attempt to buttress their claims, both the petitioners and respondents formulated three questions each for determination, in which most of it were determined in favour of the respondents.
In the judgment of three member tribunal which was delivered by one of the members, Hon. Justice O. Akintan Osadebe, the panel held that the April 11 election was conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (As amended).
Justice Osadebe said that the petitioners could not adduce enough evidence to substantiate their allegations, stressing that the alleged irregularities, if they existed, were not substantial to invalidate the entire result of the election.
‘’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.
‘’There is no evidence before this tribunal on wrongful or arbitrary allocation of votes. The petitioner’s evidence would only amount to hearsay unless the electoral officers are called in to give evidence”, she said.
‘’This petition lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed. The parties are to bear their respective costs’’, she ruled.