The Court of Appeal in Makurdi on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by a former governor of Benue State, George Akume, challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of Emmanuel Jev as the winner of the February 23 senatorial poll in Benue North West.
Akume of the All Progressives Congress had earlier lost his bid to unseat Jev at the Election Petitions Tribunal as he could not satisfy the tribunal that the election was marred by irregularities, especially in polling units in Buruku, Guma, Gboko, Gwer West and Gwer East.
As he was not satisfied with the ruling of the tribunal upholding Jev’s victory, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs approached the Court of Appeal to overrule the lower court.
However, the appellate court again ruled in favour of Jev of the Peoples Democratic Party, dismissing ex-governor Akume’s petition.
Justice O.A. Otisi, who agreed with the tribunal, held that Akume’s appeal lacked merit.
The Court of Appeal also on Friday sacked the Deputy Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Christopher Adaji, ordering INEC to conduct a fresh election in the affected two polling units in Ohimini constituency.
Adaji of the PDP proceeded to the Appeal Court to challenge the judgment of the tribunal against him.
Delivering the lead judgment in the two appeals filed separately by the PDP and Adaji, Justice I. G. Mbaba held that the appeals lacked merit.
“I find no merit in this appeal,” Justice Mbaba held and consequently dismissed same.
The judge therefore issued an order directing INEC to conduct a fresh election in the two polling units within 90 days from the day of the judgment as earlier ordered by the tribunal.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has congratulated Jev on his victory at the Court of Appeal.
Ortom in a congratulatory message by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said the judgment had confirmed the popular decision of the people of Benue North West during the election.
Ortom urged Senator Jev to justify the confidence Benue voters have in them with quality representation at the National and State Assemblies.
Reacting to the development, the PDP’s Emmanuel Orker-Jev, whose victory at the poll was affirmed in the Friday’s judgment, described the case instituted by Akume against him as a distraction and a waste of time and resources that that should have been channeled to more meaningful ventures.
He said in a statement sent to our correspondent in Abuja that he would be able to concentrate on his people following the judgment which put paid to the legal tussle.