ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, has sacked the former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, from the Senate.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices on Wednesday, stated that it was satisfied that Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), not the valid winner of the senatorial election that held in Benue North East on 25 February.
Also, it faulted the judgement of the Benue State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, which returned Suswam to the Senate, after it nullified the election victory of Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress, (APC).
The appellate court holds that, the tribunal wrongly evaluated the evidence that was presented before it by the parties in the matter and thereby arrived at an erroneous conclusion that upheld the petition Suswam filed to challenge Udende’s election victory.
Consequently, the court voided the judgement of the tribunal, arguing that it found merit in the appeal that was lodged before it by Udende, the APC candidate.
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“The judgement of the tribunal delivered on 8/9/2023 is hereby set aside.
“The return of the Appellant as the winner of the Benue North East senatorial election that was held on February 25 is hereby affirmed.
“Parties are to bear their respective cost,” the appellate court held in its lead verdict that was delivered by Justice Abimbola Osarugue Obaseki Adejumo, who led the panel.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had declared Udende as winner of the senatorial election after he polled a total of 135,573 votes to defeat Senator Suswam who garnered 112,231 votes.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the election, Suswam approached the tribunal on the ground that the election was marred by over-voting, irregularities, alterations and falsification of results.
The tribunal in its judgment, held that Suswam successfully established his case that irregularities took place in five out of seven LGAs in the Senatorial District.
Meanwhile, the tribunal cancelled 51,895 votes entered for Senator Udende and also cancelled 21,229 votes entered for Senator Suswam.
After subtracting the padded votes, the former Governor, Suswam was left with 90,590 while Senator Udende scored 82,699 votes.
Upholding the petition, Justice Ori Zik-Ikeoha led panel entered judgment in Suswam’s favour, a decision that was vacated by the appellate court on Wednesday.