Benue North-East: Appeal Court Sacks Suswam, Affirms Udende’s Victory
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed the election of Senator Emmanuel Udende as the validly elected Senator for the Benue North-East senatorial district.
Consequently, a three-member panel of the appellate Court, led by Justice Abimbola Adejumo, set aside the judgment of the State National Assembly Election Tribunal that nullified his election in favour of former Senator Gabriel Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The court unanimously said it was satisfied that Suswam was not the valid winner of the senatorial election that was held in Benue North-East on February 25.
The appellate court faulted the judgment of the Tribunal, which returned Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the Senate, after it nullified the election victory of Udende of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
According to the appellate court, the tribunal wrongly evaluated the evidence that was presented before it by the parties in the matter and thereby arrived at a conclusion that upheld the petition Suswam filed to challenge Udende’s election victory.
It therefore voided the judgement of the tribunal, saying it found merit in the appeal that was lodged before it by the APC candidate.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Udende as the winner of the senatorial election after he polled a total of 135,573 votes to defeat Senator Suswam who garnered 112,231 votes.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the election, Suswam approached the tribunal on the ground that it was marred by over-voting, irregularities, alterations and falsification of results.
In its judgement, the tribunal held that Suswam successfully established his case that irregularities took place in five out of seven LGAs in the Senatorial District.
The tribunal cancelled 51,895 votes entered for Senator Udende and also cancelled 21,229 votes entered for Senator Suswam.
After subtracting the padded votes, Senator Suswam was left with 90,590 while Senator Udende scored 82,699 votes.
Upholding the petition, Justice Ori Zik-Ikeoha-led panel entered judgment in Suswam’s favour, a decision which has been vacated by the Appeal Court