*4 Senators, 7 Reps fired so far *Suswam bounces back in Benue State
As the National Assembly and state assemblies tribunals sitting in all the 36 states of the federation deliver more verdicts emanating from election petitions, no fewer than four senators and seven members of the House of Representatives have had their victories at the February 25, 2023 polls upturned.
And with more judgements likely to be delivered in the coming days, there could be more upsets that could see some lawmakers losing their seats unless they are able to reverse the judgements in the Court of Appeal.
Some prominent senators have however escaped the hammer of the tribunal judges including Ali Ndume, Ned Nwoko, Dave Umahi (now minister of works), all of the ruling All Progressives Congress and Aniekan Bassey of the People’s Democratic Party.
In Benue, the National and State Assemblies election petition tribunal sitting in Makurdi on Friday nullified the election of the senator representing Benue North East senatorial district, Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declared Gabriel Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the election.
The tribunal also directed the Independent National Electoral commision INEC to issue a new certificate of return to Gabriel Suswam as the winner of the the February 25th senatorial election.
The three man panel of judges presided over by Justice Ory Zik-Ikeorha while delivering judgment in a peition filed by the first petitioner, Gabriel Suswam, held that Suswam has proved allegations of over voting during the election beyond reasonable doubt.
According to Justice Zik- Ikeorha, the initial declaration by the INEC, Udende of APC polled 135,573 votes to defeat Gabriel Suswam of the PDP got 112,231 votes which with a difference of 23,322 votes.
She said, “the petitioner was able to established over voting in five local Government council areas of Vandeikya, Kwande, Ukum, Katsina-Ala and Ushongo in which Udende was allocated 51, 895 votes while Suswam had 21,229 votes.
After the deduction, Gabriel Suswam of the PDP scored 90,590 valid votes while Udende of the APC was left with 82,699 votes which is a difference of 7,920 votes and was declared the winner by the tribunal.
Justice Catherine Ogunsanya, presiding over the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Asaba, Delta State, had on Thursday delivered a significant verdict affirming Senator Ned Nwoko as the winner of the 2023 Delta North senatorial election.
Senator Nwoko was the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 Delta North senatorial election.
He was declared elected by majority votes in the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The petitions challenging Nwoko’s victory were separately filed by Him Peter Nwaoboshi, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), and Kennedy Kanma, the candidate of Labour Party (LP).
Both parties argued that the electoral process that brought Nwoko to victory was flawed.
Nwaoboshi contended that the election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act 2022, with emphasis on improper accreditation of voters in polling units across the nine local government areas that made up the senatorial district.
Similarly, Kanma of Labour Party, argued that Nwoko of PDP was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
But in their separate responses, counsels to the respondents, Nwoko, PDP and INEC urged the tribunal to dismiss the case of the petitioner for lack of substance.
Delivering the unanimous judgement the tribunal, after a thorough examination of the evidence presented against Prince Ned Nwoko, the three-member tribunal, led by Justice Catherine Ogunsanya, ruled in favor of the defendant, Ned Nwoko.
The tribunal held that the petitioner failed woefully to prove his case, against the election of Senator Nwoko as he could not tender before the tribunal any relevant document to prove a case of non compliance as contained in the petition.
The Senator representing Kogi East in the National Assembly, Jibrin Isah Echocho, who was earlier sacked, has expressed dissatisfaction with the judgement of the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Lokoja, which ordered for a supplementary election in 94 polling units with over 59,730 votes.
The tribunal chairman, Justice K.A. Orjiako, who delivered the judgement on the petition brought before it by Dr Victor Adoji, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), agreed with the prayers of Adoji.
Adoji, had through his counsel, Mr Johnson Usman (SAN), challenged the return of Jibrin Isah on the ground that elections were cancelled in some polling units where the PVCs collected were more than the margin of his (Echocho’s) win.
Also, in Kogi, the state tribunal had declared Natasha Akpoti-Uduagan of the opposition PDP as the winner of the February 25, 2023 senatorial election.
Justice K. A. Orjiako led the three-man panel in declaring that the results that gave victory to Abubakar Ohere were inflated in nine polling units of Ajaokuta Local Government Area (LGA).
The judges also said that votes of Natasha was reduced in the areas by the INEC in a number of polling units in the same LGA.
The judges thereafter declared Akpoti as the winner of the poll having polled 54,074 against Ohere (APC) who polled 51,291.
In Delta, the now sacked senator representing Delta South in the National Assembly, Joel-Onowakpo Thomas has expressed dissatisfaction with the tribunal judgment that ordered for a supplementary election in Warri South local government area.
While he has received the certified true copy of the judgement, the senator said there is sufficient grounds for appeal, which he is confident, will give him victory. He also has no plans to appeal but will instead let voters decide.
Meanwhile, Hon. Fred Agbedi, the PDP candidate for Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency in the February 25, 2023 House of Representatives in the general election, says he is ready for a supplementary election as ordered by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Bayelsa.
The election tribunal had in Yenagoa on Thursday, nullified the Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency election contested by Michael Bless Olomu of the APC and Fred Agbedi of the PDP.
In its ruling, the tribunal ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate given to Agbedi and conduct a fresh election in 21 Polling Units in Sagbama local government area and 6 Polling Units in Wards 12 in Ekeremor local government area as 26,000 registered voters unlawfully excluded from the election.
Responding, Agbedi said, “For me as the party’s flag bearer, I am ready for the supplementary election, there is no appeal. That’s my personal decision. They said it is 26,000 votes, so we will go and harvest it.
“The court has given a judgement that in 90 days, go and conduct a supplementary election based on the 26,000 votes that are remaining. If you are a contestant, you prepare yourself to go for the contest.
“To all my supporters, I want all of them to remain calm, the PDP family should remain calm. We are ready to go for the election and victory is always sure”, he said.
Also, in Delta State the tribunal recently sacked a member of the House of Representatives, Ngozi Okolie representing Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency on the platform of the Labour Party (LP).
Okolie defeated Ndudi Elumelu during the 25 February National Assembly elections.
Elumelu, in a petition against the results claimed Okolie’s nomination did not meet requirements of the relevant laws on the election.
This is just as the member representing Isiukwuato Umunneochi federal constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives, Amobi Ogah has rejected the tribunal judgement which ordered his sack.
Sitting in Umuahia, the the tribunal on Wednesday nullified the election of Ogah of the Labour Party declaring Nkeiruka Onyejeocha of the APC as winner of the National Assembly election.
And in Enugu, the election tribunal nullified the election of the Labour Party’s candidate, Professor Sunday Nnamchi as a member of the House of Representatives for the Enugu East/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency.
The petition was filed PDP candidate, Prince Cornelius Nnaji, who succeeded in getting the three-man panel of judges led by A. M. Abubakar to declare him the duly elected lawmaker of the election.
Nnaji had challenged the declaration of Nnamchi by INEC as the winner of the election because the respondent was not duly sponsored and qualified to contest under the Labour Party platform.
On August 24, the election of Seyi Sowunmi, also of the Labour Party, as the House of Representatives member for Ojo Federal Constituency in Lagos State was annulled by the election petition tribunal.
The three-man panel led by Justice Abdullahi Ozegya declared the candidate of the APC, Lanre Ogunyemi, as the duly elected candidate of the election conducted on February 25, 2023.
Ogunyemi, a two-term state lawmaker and former secretary of the APC in Lagos, had challenged the declaration of Sowunmi by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the election on the grounds that the respondent was not duly sponsored and qualified to contest the election under the candidacy of Labour Party for Ojo Federal Constituency.
And in one of the earliest verdicts delivered on the 2023 general elections, The National and State House of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Kano, had a few weeks ago nullified the election victory of Muktar Umar Yerima, of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) as the House of Representatives member for Tarauni Federal Constituency.
Led by Justice I.P. Chima, the three-man panel reversed Yerima’s victory over forgery of his primary school certificate, which had been submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice I.P. Chima, while delivering the tribunal’s decision, stated, “After a thorough examination of the evidence presented before us, it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that Muktar Umar Yerima submitted a forged primary school certificate to the INEC. This act disqualifies him from holding the position he was elected to.”
The tribunal found in favour of Kawu, highlighting a compelling case of alleged forgery against Yerima. As a result, the tribunal determined that the NNPP had no legitimate candidate in the election and declared all the votes cast for Yerima as “wasted votes”.
The petitioner in the case, Hafizu Kawu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had challenged Yerima’s eligibility and presented evidence proving the forgery allegations.