The National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to David Ogewu of APGA for Samson Okwu of PDP, as the legitimate winner of the 2019 House of Representatives election for Oju/Obi constituency in Benue state.
The order was given by the tribunal Chairman, Justice A.A Adeleye on Wednesday while delivering judgement in the petition filed by Okwu against the election of Ogewu, where he declared that the petitioner won the election with a margin of nine hundred and ninety four votes cast from the two Local Government Areas.
Justice Adeleye faulted the decision of INEC which declared Ogewu the winner, without including result for Obi Local Government Area in the final collation.
According to Justice Adeleye, the margin of win, which the APGA candidate secured over the petitioner in Oju, was inconsequential hence the total number of registered voters from Obi which is 59, 411 far exceeded Ogewu’s earlier margin of lead.
He noted that the declaration of Ogewu as the winner of the Federal Constituency’s election based on only the result for Oju, where he scored 12, 794 votes against Okwu’s 6, 797 votes was invalid hence he did not secure majority of the lawful votes cast from the two Local Government Areas that made up the Federal constituency.
Justice Adeleye maintained that the tribunal had the jurisdiction to do the necessary arithmetic to include Obi result which Samson Okwu of PDP scored 7, 543 votes against Ogewu’s 754 votes.
He also deducted 252 votes scored by the APGA candidate in Oju Local Government Area on the ground that they were allotted to him in error.
After the final collation of result for the two Local Government Areas by the Tribunal, Okwu lead the initial winner, Ogewu after securing a total of 14, 300 votes, higher than Ogewu, who by the collation trailed behind with 13, 306 votes.
Samson Okwu was therefore declared winner by the tribunal, saying the petitioner’s witnesses convinced the court with cogent evidences of non-compliance with the Electoral Act (2010) to warrant the decision in their favour while the respondent’s witnesses failed to prove the allegation of violence in Obi Local Government Area during the election.