The Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, upheld the elections of Samuel Ortom of Benue State and his counterpart in Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
Both governors are members of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Their declaration by the Independence National Electoral Commission, INEC, as winners of the 2019 governorship elections in their states were challenged up to the Supreme Court by the candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In two separate judgments, a seven-man panel, led by Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, the presiding judge dismissed the two appeals filed by Emmanuel Jime (APC candidate in Benue) and his counterpart in Adamawa State, ex-Governor Jibrilla Bindo.
Members of the panel were unanimous that the appellants failed to provide cogent reasons to warrant them to tamper with the concurrent findings of the two lower courts (the election tribunal and Court of Appeal).
Summarising his decision, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who read the lead judgment in the Benue appeal, said a thorough analysis of the evidence presented by the appellants showed they failed to discharge the burden of proof place on them by the law.
Ngwuta said: “In conclusion, I find that the concurrent judgments of the two lower courts are not to be tampered with. The appeal is hereby dismissed.”
Justice Dattijo Mohammed gave a similar decision in the lead judgment he read in the Adamawa appeal.
He held that the appellants failed to establish their claim of over-voting, as required by law.
The Justice held that the two lower courts were not wrong in disagreeing with the appellants, that they could rely on card reader reports and not call poling unit agents as witnesses in proving over-voting.
Justice Mohammed said it is the law that card reader reports cannot supplant voters’ register in proving over-voting.
“Resultantly, the two courts below are right to hold that the appellants failed to prove their case. This appeal is hereby dismissed.
“The second respondent’s return and declaration as the winner of the governorship election held in Adamawa State is further affirmed,” the judge said.
Other members of the panel agreed with both lead judgments.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governors’ Forum has congratulated four of its members on their victory at the Supreme Court.
A statement on Tuesday by the forum’s Director-General, Earl Osaro Onaiwu, said the apex court, by its judgments, affirmed the wishes of the people who voted for and defended their votes and the mandates they gave the governors it the March 2019 governorship poll.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Tuesday hailed the Supreme Court for upholding the elections of Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Ahmed Fintiri (Adamawa).
The governors are members of the party, the main opposition. It maintained that its governors won the elections in their states, adding that any disposition to the contrary would have further diminished the hard-earned image of the apex court.
The PDP insisted that it won in those states.
In a statement on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, by its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition insisted that the Supreme Court judgment on the four states would not sway it to abandon or even diminish the nationwide agitation for a judicial review and reversal of the “miscarriage of justice” by the court in its January 14, 2020 judgment on Imo State governorship poll.
“In congratulating Governors Tambuwal, Ortom, Fintiri and Bala Mohammed, the party urged them to continue in the path of good governance for which they were elected, in line with the manifesto and vision of the PDP,” the statement said.
There was wild jubilation in Benue state after Supreme Court affirmed the election of Governor Samuel Ortom.
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