Nigeria: Governorship Tussle - Supreme Court Affirms Ortom, Fintiri's Elections, Concludes Appeals

22 January 2020

I've accepted verdict in good faith - Jime

The Supreme Court has affirmed the elections of governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State in the March 2019 governorship elections.

A seven-member panel of justices yesterday dismissed the appeals brought by APC's Emmanuel Jime challenging the election of Governor Ortom and former governor and APC's Jibrilla Bindow challenging the election of Governor Fintiri.

The determination of the appeals in the two states brings to 21 the total number of election petitions brought over the March 9 governorship elections in the country. Only Imo governorship election was upturned with APC's Hope Uzodinma declared winner against PDP's Emeka Ihedioha.

Jime through his lawyer, Yusuf Ali (SAN), had asked the Supreme Court to nullify the election of Ortom due to over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines particularly in 600 polling units after calling 59 witnesses.

Ali said there is a disparity between the number of voters accredited by the smart card reader and the number recorded in the actual voting. He therefore concluded that the election was not properly collated by INEC and should be nullified.

Reading the lead judgment, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta held that the appeal by Jime and APC had no merit, adding that he had not made out the case of over-voting against Ortom's election.

In the Adamawa appeal by former governor Bindow, the apex court held that the tables of the results in the polling units on which he alleged over-voting were not established by reference to number of accredited voters by the authenticated registered voters in form EC8A.

"In the absence of these overriding facts from the pleading of the evidence he led he cannot be said to have established the grounds of his petition, I so hold," said Justice Dattijo Muhammad in the lead judgment.

With these decisions, appeals in Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Rivers states have been determined.

PDP, Ortom's supporters celebrate

Jubilant supporters of the PDP and Ortom yesterday took to the streets in celebration moments after the Supreme Court pronounced its judgement on the state's gubernatorial tussle.

Some of the supporters of PDP and Ortom sang and danced along major streets as well as at the government house gate while others gathered at drinking joints to celebrate the governor's victory at the apex court.

A party supporter, Dr. Friday Adakole, said, "it was a sweet victory. We defeated them (APC and its candidate) in all the courts. The Supreme Court has however put a final say to the legal tussle."

On his part, former minister of State for Education and Chairman Benue State Civil Service Commission, Professor Jerry Agada, described Ortom's victory at the apex court as a true reflection of Benue electorate's decision at the last general elections.

I've accepted verdict in good faith - Jime

Candidate of the APC for the 2019 governorship election in Benue State, Barrister Emmanuel Jime, has expressed sadness over the judgement.

Jime, a statement he personally signed, explained that though the ruling was not in his favour, he however accepted it in good faith.

"The Supreme Court ruled on a petition we brought before it challenging earlier rulings on the outcome of the 2019 governorship election in Benue State. The court's decision unfortunately did not go in our favour, bringing to a close our legal quest on the matter.

"Sad as the Supreme Court judgment is to me, our party and teeming supporters, we accept the verdict in good faith, and take its implications in our stride," he said.

On the other hand, the PDP in a statement signed by its State Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, expressed delight over the judgement and enjoined the opposition to join hands with the Ortom administration to move Benue forward.

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