Oshiomhole, Ihonvbere win at election tribunal

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Benin

The National/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin, has upheld the victory of Sen. Adams Oshiomhole in the Feb. 25 Edo North Senatorial District election declared by INEC.

The tribunal also upheld the election of Rep Ihonvbere Julius of the APC, representing Owan Federal Constituency.

The three-man tribunal, led by Justice O.A. Chuioke, dismissed the petition filed by a former Senator, Francis Alimikhena, of the PDP for lack of merit.

Alimikhena, through his counsel, Mr Rasak Isenalume, had petitioned against the former governor of the state, Sen Oshiomhole, alongside INEC and APC, in the suit NO: EPT/ED/SEN/02/2023.

The 1st petitioner Alimikhena, in his petition, asked the tribunal to declare null and void the election of Oshiomhole over non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as required by law and declare him winner of the election.

He also urged the tribunal to nullify the election of the former APC National Chairman on alleged non transmission of election results through the use of BIVAS machine to IREV Portal

Alimikhena, on the alternative, prayed the tribunal to order for a rerun of the election owing to non substantial compliance with the law.

But in their separate responses, counsels to the respondents urged the tribunal to dismiss the case of the petitioners for lack of merit.

Delivering the unanimous judgement on behalf of the tribunal, its Chairman, Justice Alero Akeredolu, held that the petitioners failed woefully to prove their case, adding that they could not rely on weakness or strength of the respondents to prove their cases against Oshiomhole.

Justice Akeredolu also held that the petitioners failed to tender before the tribunal any relevant document to prove a case of non compliance as contained in their petitions.

The Tribunal, therefore, dismissed the petition against Oshiomhole in its entirety

Reacting to the judgement, counsel to the petitioners, Rasak Isenalume, expressed appreciation of the conduct of the case, disclosing that the tribunal had concluded that the petition had no merit and dismissed the case with reasons.

Responding also, counsel to Oshiomhole, represented by Mr Famous Osawaru, said that “they (petitioners) were not able to establish non compliance and the judges were able to cover all the areas.

“They called just one witness and closed their case and we didn’t bother to overburden the court but to argue on the point of law. It is a victory for democracy. ”

Earlier, the tribunal also dismissed the petition filed by Jimoh Iruokhaime Ijiegbai Ojeiu and PDP, against the INEC declaration of Ihonvbere as winner of the Owan Federal Constituency.

The tribunal also agreed with the argument of the lead counsel to Ihonvbere Mr Ehiogie West-Idahosa (SAN), that Ojeiu’s petition failed in its entirety.

Ojeiu and the PDP are 1st and 2nd petitioners in the petition marked EPT/ED/HR/03/2023.

Reacting to the two-hour judgement, Counsel to the 1st petitioners, Rasak Isenalume, Esq, told NAN that: “As lawyers, our duty is to present the case as it is and back it up with relevant laws.

“So, it is for the tribunal to decide; you know we cannot change the law. All sides must have their positions and we canvassed ours eloquently. But the tribunal has come with its decision.

“Well, like I told the tribunal, we will await further instructions from our clients as there is a further step to go.

“Most of this case we are citing today, they were cases done at the tribunal and reversed at the Court of Appeal and affirmed by the Supreme Court.”

But counsel to Prof. Ihonvbere, 2nd Respondent, Famous Osawaru, who held brief for West-Idahosa, SAN, described the judgement as master class, meticulously written, articulately delivered and a victory for the people of Owan Federal Constituency

He maintained that the tribunal dismissed the petition following the inability of the petitioners to prove the issues of over voting as alleged in their petition.

“They could not prove the elements to establish over votes in the election,” he said.

But counsel to the respondent, the APC, Mr Victor Asumwan, said: “We are glad with the judgement and it is a reaffirmation of the decision of the electorate in Owan East and West Constituency when they voted massively for APC.

“The tribunal has affirmed the position of the law that for one to prove over voting, there are certain requirements of the law you must meet.

“The petitioners obviously woefully failed to meet those provisions.”

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