By James Ibechi
Adirahu Ny’Igede, Chief Oga Ero, has hailed tribunal judgement, congratulating Rt. Hon Sam Okwu over his victory today.
It was gathered that the Igede Royal Father conveyed the congratulatory message in a telephone conversation with Okwu.
The National/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Makurdi the Benue state capital today declared Okwu of the People’s Democratic Party as winner of the Feb 23 National Assembly election held for Oju/Obi Federal Consistency.
Delivering Judgement on the petition field by Okwu against David Ogewu of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the Tribunal Chairman Justice A.A Adeleye ordered The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to immediately issue a certificate of return to Okwu while the earlier certificate of return issued to Ogewu be withdrawn.
According to the Tribunal Chairman, all the witnesses called by the petitioner testified to the fact that election results for Obi local government was not collated by the Oju/Obi returning officer, adding that the petitioner Okwu was able to prove that the collation and declaration of the APGA candidate was not in compliance with the electoral law as all the processes that led to his declaration were based on hearsay.
In his judgement, Adeleye further stated that evidence before the tribunal showed that election in Obi was peacefully conducted but the returning officer did not wait to collate it based on allegation that there was apprehension which made him to only announce the result from Oju.
The Tribunal Chairman further stated that the electoral returning officer for Oju/Obi federal constituency should not have declared David Ogweu as winner of the election where the result of Obi local govt of over fifty nine thousand registered voters was not declared.
In his argument earlier, counsel to Okwu, Ken Ikonne(SAN) pointed out that the collection of result from Oju had some mathematical errors and the tribunal agreed with him that two hundred and fifty two votes have no origin more so that the counsel to the respondent, Ogewu did not disprove the claim.
The two hundred and fifty two votes out of the total votes gotten by the APGA candidate in Oju was however deducted which brought the total votes in the two local govts for Ogewu to thirteen thousand three hundred and six while the petitioner, Okwu’s total vote was put at fourteen thousand three hundred with Okwu having a margin of lead of nine hundred and ninety four votes.
Justice Adeleye, however, said that the Tribunal has power to add up valid votes in the two local govt and accordingly noted that in the final collated result Samson Okwu of the People’s Democratic Party led with a total of nine hundred and ninety four votes and directed INEC to issue him with a certificate of return.
Joy FM, Otukpo reports that the Judgment of the Tribunal voids the earlier judgement by the Appeal court which directed INEC to issue certificate of return to David Ogewu.
Reacting, Ogewu’s media handler, Ipole Ohini urged supporters to be calm as his principal would head to appeal court to reclaim victory.
“I call on all Igede sons and daughters, our esteem supporters and members of APGA family Oju/Obi to remain calm and be law abiding as the Court of appeal will do the right thing and uphold our victory,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.