George Okoh in Makurdi

The Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi on Thursday struck out the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Daniel Onjeh, against the election of Senator David Mark.
The tribunal said the petition was filed late.

The tribunal held that the petition was filed out of the stipulated 21 days as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In her ruling, Justice Chinyere Gloria Anulube, described the petition as “defective and incurably bad,” maintaining that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

She held that provision of the Interpretation Act, the Electoral Act, Practice Direction, as well as the constitution of the country, the time for filing an election petition should include the day of declaration of result of the election.

While relying on the Supreme Court decision in Okechukwu and INEC, the tribunal also held that since the re-run itself was predicated on the order of Appeal Court, “this tribunal cannot shy away from a superior court pronouncement.
“We hold that all pending applications before the court having been overtaken by event is thereby struck out,” she stated.

Responding to the ruling, counsel to Senator Mark said justice was well served, averring that the petition was just a waste of time as it was incompetent.

Also speaking on the ruling, Special Assistant to Senator, David Mark on Media/Benue Liaison, Dr. Adakole Elijah, hailed the decision of the tribunal, saying that the ruling was a classical manifestation of the revalidation of the mandate given to the former Senate President.

Elijah said: “We defeated APC in March 2015, the APC and its candidate went to court and got the victory nullified and a re-run was ordered, we went back to the polls and came back victorious and that victory has today been re-affirmed by the tribunal.”
The state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, John Ngbede, said the court ruling was a re-affirmation of the election of Mark by Benue South district, adding that “it shows that future of PDP in the state is bright. God is with Mark.”