Friday, 22 July 2016

Appeal Court Upholds David Mark's Victory

The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi in Benue state today upheld the victory of a former Senate President, David Mark, as earlier pronounced by the lower National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.

Justice Oyebisi Omoleye who led the three-man panel struck out the case brought before it by the All Progressives Congress (APC)'s candidate, Daniel Onjeh for lacking merit.

The panel held that the appellant (Onjeh) filed his petition out of time as required by the Electoral Law, therefore, rendering the petition incompetent and so, "the appeal is dismissed."

According to Omoleye, the appellant petition was filed on the 22nd day of declaration of the election result by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which affirmed Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as senator representing Benue South senatorial district.

Daily Trust reports that the rerun election between Mark and Onjeh held on February 20, this year and results were declared by INEC the following day, February 21 but Onjeh had filed his petition on March 13, one day later than the required 21-day as stipulated by law.

Onjeh had approached the tribunal asking it to declare him winner of the poll for which INEC earlier affirmed Mark as scoring the highest votes to return back to the senate after he was sacked in October last year by Justice Peter Ige's appeal panel which ordered the rerun.

But, in her ruling on June 30, Justice Chinyere Gloria Anulube of the lower tribunal held that Onjeh's petition was filed out of the stipulated 21 days as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, adding that, the petition was "defective and incurably bad."

Mark had emerged winner of the repeated election with a total votes of 84,192 to beat his APC's opponent, Onjeh who scored 71, 621 votes leaving a difference of 12,571 votes between them.

The INEC's Chief returning officer, Prof. Ishaq Shuaibu Enegi declared the result exactly 6:20am on Sunday, February 21.

Reacting to today's judgment, counsel to Mark, Ken Ikonne simply said he was happy.

But, the counsel to Onjeh, Sunday Ayegba said: "we are not happy with the decision of the appeal panel but there is nothing we can do."

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