By Amos Aar
THE National and State House of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, Benue State capital on Sunday upheld the election of Senator Patrick Abba Moro of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Benue South senatorial district having struck out the petition filed by Daniel Onjeh of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Onjeh had filed a petition at the three-person panel of justices alleging that Senator Moro was not qualified to contest the election and that he was not elected by majority of lawful votes cast.
Onjeh further alleged that the election was invalid owing to non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 amongst other irregularities.
But in the unanimous judgement read by the chairperson of the panel, the Hon. Justice Ory Zik-Ikeorha held that the petitioner failed to call credible witnesses or present reliable evidence.
She described the evidence as “weak, porous and lacking in substance and cannot sustain the reliefs sought in the petition not even in the alternative of ordering for a reviewed election”.
She added: “What the petitioners presented was a well laid down bunch of pleadings without the corresponding evidence to substantiate same. Incidentally, in law, pleadings alone do not constitute evidence.
“In the final analysis therefore, we hereby hold that the reliefs sought are refused and the petition instituted hereby stands dismissed in its entirety”.
There was no dissenting judgement as the other two justices also adopted the verdict read by Justice Zik-Ikeorha.
However, Adetunji Osho, Esq., Onjeh’s lead counsel, objected to the outcome of the judgment in an interview with journalists.
Osho said he would sit with his client to review the judgement towards taking an appropriate decision.
“I’m not trained to review the judgment by the competent tribunal before the press. But I am saying that we will take the judgement, read it, digest it and then, advise on the necessary steps to be taken next”, Osho said.
Reacting in an interview, Onjeh, who also rejected the tribunal’s decision said: “Senator Abba Moro, the PDP and INEC, failed to call even one witness and you also know what the new Electoral Act says about documents. There is nothing like hearsay anymore. Once what you allege is apparent on the face of the document, the court is bound to look at them and make pronouncement.
“So, we presented our case and we believe we had done sufficiently well and we expect that we should be declared today. But that the tribunal has given its judgement is not a finality”, Onjeh said.
He stated that he would consult his legal team and if possible, head to the Appeal Court where he said he will surely get justice.