The National Assembly/State Houses of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Enugu has upheld the victory of Hon. Martins Oke representing Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani in the House of Representatives.
DAILY POST reports that the judgement was delivered on Friday by a three-man Tribunal led by Hon. Justice H.H Kerang.
The petition was filed by Barr. Anikezie Chukwuma Jonathan of the All Progressives Congress, APC, against Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The petitioner had among other issues for determination, told the Tribunal that the election that produced Oke was fraud with manipulations, irregularities and non-collation of results.
While relying on report obtained from the Smart Card reader, he had asked the Tribunal to hold that the said manipulations which were substantial, affected the credibility of the election.
Anikezie had equally contended that he should be declared winner for having scored the highest number of valid votes, adding that there was deficiency in the collation of results that led to the emergence of the Federal lawmaker.
He further claimed that some results were not generated from the polling units but were rather manufactured by the respondents, stressing that “the votes of the 1st Respondent kept appreciating while that of the petitioner kept depreciating.”
However, all the respondents, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, joined issues with the petitioners, arguing that they could not prove allegations of substantial non-compliance to the electoral Act and the INEC guidelines.
They equally asked the Tribunal to determine whether testimonies given on matters not pleaded commands any value.
The Respondents maintained that there was actual collation of results in the entire wards that make up the constituency from the polling units to the constituency collation centre.
They also declared that apart from the Smart Card Reader, the Voters’ Register was equally used for the process of accreditation of voters in line with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
In its judgement, the Tribunal held that the petitioners did not tender the voters’ register but relied only on the smart card reader, adding “it is now trite law that over-voting cannot be proved by card reader report alone.”
On the issue of manipulation of figures, the Tribunal held that to determine such, the petitioner must tender the genuine and the falsified results.
“So, we cannot determine with only one result that there was alteration since this is the only result before us.
“Upon what figure do we also declare that the 1st Respondent was not duly elected? The 1st Petitioner did not tell the Tribunal upon which figure he should be declared winner. We have tried in vain to trace the said genuine result said to be before us, but we can’t find same. The tribunal will not allow dust to be thrown into its eyes.
“The petitioners failed to prove that the 1st Respondent was not duly elected by a majority of valid votes cast. This issue is resolved against the petitioners in favour of the Respondent,” it held.
The Tribunal further ruled that facts before it showed that both the smart card readers and the voters’ register were used for the election, a fact it said was not countered by the petitioners.
It held that the petitioners “want to achieve in their final address what they could not achieve in hearing. We cannot be misled. Petitions only dumped their documents on us. We are amazed on the request to declare the petitioners winner; the request is defeatist.
“It is our final conclusion that this petition lacks merit. We declare that the election of Martins Oke is hereby upheld; this petition is hereby dismissed.”
It awarded the cost of N200,000 in favour of each of the Respondents against the petitioners.