The election of former Senate President, Senator David Mark, has been upheld by the Legislative Houses Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Mark’s victory at the Benue South senatorial district election was challenged by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate at the election, Daniel Onjeh on the grounds that the poll was marred by irregularities.
In a two-and-half-hour judgment delivered by Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu, the tribunal held that the petitioner failed to adduce enough evidence to prove that the election failed substantially to meet with the provisions of the law.
Relying on sections 124 and 135 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, Justice Dipeolu held that “the petitioner contested the results of election conducted in 700 out of 1,015 pulling units but failed to adduce both oral and documentary evidence to prove his case.
“The petitioner called only two witnesses who directly participated in the election, in a suit in which he is contesting the result of the elections held in 700 polling units.
“Most of the testimonies given by the petitioner’s witnesses were contradictory, hearsay and circumstantial evidence which is not admissible in law as provided by Section 126 of the Evidence Act.”
Justice Dipeolu further held that the petitioner merely succeeded in dumping documents at the tribunal without making concerted efforts to adduce oral evidence pursuant to the matter.
She also wondered why the petitioner raised criminal issues in his petition but negated in his responsibilities to prove same.
“The burden of proof in this matter lay with the petitioner as provided by law which he failed to discharge, therefore the petition failed and is summarily dismissed.”
Reacting, counsel to Senator Mark, Mr. Ken Ikonne, lauded the judgment and asked for no cost, “our gesture is in the interest of peace and reconciliation,” he said.
The petitioner said he would consult with the hierarchy of the APC before taking the judgment before the appellate court.
According to a statement by Mark’s media assistant, Paul Mumeh, the former senate president in his reaction, hailed the judiciary as the last hope and defender of the rights of the oppressed as he expressed appreciation to it for reaffirming the mandate given to him by the people of Benue South senatorial district.