George Okoh in Makurdi
The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi has reserved judgment in the election dispute between Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator David Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Onjeh had appealed the earlier ruling of the Benue State Legislative House Elections Petitions Tribunal which dismissed his petition on the grounds that it was filed out of time.
Onjeh through his counsel, Mr. Adetunji Oso, in his appeal, urged the appellate court to allow the appeal and remit the petition back to the tribunal for continuation of the proceedings.
However, the counsel to Mark, Ken Ikonne, after adopting his briefs, urged the Justice Oyebisi Omoleye-led appellate court to “be bound and extremely persuaded by the Supreme Court judgment in the case between Okechukwu vs the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and dismiss the appeal for lack of merit.
Ikonne who maintained that Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution was clear on the fact that the day of declaration of an election result should be included in the days allowed for the filing of a petition before a court, urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal and award costs against the appellant.
Counsel to the PDP, Mr. Chris Alechenu, who described the appeal as an academic exercise, urged the court to dismiss the appeal, stressing that the appellant’s failure to file replies to the responses filed by the second respondent implied that the appellant had already conceded defeat.
On his part, counsel to INEC, Mr. Johnson Usman, in his submission, pointed out that the petition was dead on arrival because it was predicated on a non-existent law.
He informed the court that paragraph 12(5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which the appellant based his appeal was no longer in existence adding that recent rulings of the Appeal Court had also put paid to the matter.
Justice Omoleye however reserved judgment on the matter, stressing that all the parties would be communicated and informed of the day of judgment.