The apex court ruled that Ortom won the March 9, 2019 governorship election, as it upheld the earlier judgment of the Appeal Court, which affirmed that Ortom who contested for a second term on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election.
In a unanimous judgement by a seven-man panel led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivor, the apex court dismissed the appeal that was lodged against Ortom’s election by the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta who read the lead judgement, noted that the panel found no reason to disturb the concurrent decisions of both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal that returned Ortom as the valid winner of the state governorship election.
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, had initially dismissed the petition of Jime who contested against Ortom in Benue. [SunNews]
Arguing his clients’ appeal, Yusuf Ali (SAN), had urged the Supreme Court to nullify Ortom’s election.
According to Ali, the disparity between the number of accredited voters recorded by the smart card reader machines used for the conduct of the election and the number of votes recorded, had rendered the election invalid.
“There must be an agreement between the number of accredited voters and the total votes,” he said.
Ali noted that dismissing his clients’ appeal would imply that funds spent on putting the card reader system in place were in vain.
He also argued that contrary to the belief of the respondents to the appeal, his clients were not required to call witnesses from each of the disputed polling units because their case was not built on allegations of violence which would require eyewitnesses to testify.
He said, “When the allegation is that election results are either not properly accounted for or not properly collated, it is not required that witnesses would be called from each polling unit.”
Lawyers representing the respondents to the appeal; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ortom and his party, PDP, urged the court to dismiss the appeal which they said was bereft of any evidence.