The Supreme Court has on Tuesday upheld the election of governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and his Adamawa State counterpart, Ahmadu Umar Fintiri.
The apex court, in the unanimous judgment in the appeals challenging the election of the two state governors, held that they were duly elected and dismissed the appeals challenging their elections.
In the case of Ortom, who contested and won the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who delivered the judgment held that “I have considered all the issues raised in the appeal and I have come to the conclusion that the concurrent decisions of the two lower courts ought not to be disturbed.
“This appeal is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit”, the court held.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime had challenged Governor Samuel Ortom’s victory at the poll before the state Governorship election petition tribunal and at the Court of Appeal and lost.
He then filed an appeal at the Supreme Court and asked the court to set aside the judgments of the two lower court and sack Ortom from the Benue state government house.
Counsel to Jime, Yusuf Ali (SAN) had earlier urged the apex court to nullify Ortom’s election, saying that the disparity between the number of accredited voters recorded by the smart card reader machines used for the conduct of the election and the number of votes recorded had rendered the election invalid.
“There must be an agreement between the number of accredited voters and the total votes,” he said.
Counsel to respondents in the appeal, INEC, Ortom, and his party had, in their submissions, urged the court to dismiss the appeal which they said was bereft of any evidence.
Ortom’s counsel, Sebastine Hon (SAN), told the seven-member panel that the appellants’ case was lacking in evidence, as the card reader report which they relied on was struck out by the tribunal.
Also, PDP’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) on his part, urged the apex court to dismiss the appeal “and uphold the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the tribunal in holding that the second respondent, Samuel Ortom was duly elected and validly returned as the winner of the governorship election”.
Similarly, the apex court held in its judgment in Adamawa State Governorship appeal that governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri was duly elected governor of the state.
In the unanimous judgment of the court, delivered by Justice Dattijo Mohammed, the apex court dismissed the appeal filed by the former governor of the state, Muhammed Jibrilla Bindow.
Bindow had, in his appeal, asked the apex court to set aside the decision of the state election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal and annul Fintiri’s election.
He alleged over voting in the election, adding that the total number of votes recorded exceeded the number of voters accredited.
But, the apex court held yesterday that the appellant failed to prove the allegation of over voting as he failed to lay concrete evidence that there was over-voting.
Justice Mohammed said the appellant could not call any witness from the local government area in the state where over voting was alleged.
The court held also that the two lower courts are not wrong in their decisions in the matter and that the two courts are right to hold that the appellant failed to prove the allegation of over-voting and his case cannot succeed.
According to the Supreme Court, the return of governor Fintiri by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the duly elected governor of Adamawa State, “Is hereby affirmed”.