Court Of Appeal Upholds Benue Governor’s Election

Samuel OrtomThe Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division, on Wednesday dismissed the appeal filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Benue State during the last elections, Terhemen Tarzoor, challenging the judgment of the Justice Elizabeth Karatu led governorship Elections Petition Tribunal in Makurdi.

The Tribunal had about two months ago dismissed Tarzoor’s petition for lack of merit.

At its ruling Wednesday, the five man panel of emninent jurists led by Justice Mohammed Garuba, upheld the decision of the trial court, insisting that the appellant failed to prove before Tribunal that Samuel Ortom was not properly nominated by his party.

Justice Garuba held that, “on the issue of burden of proof, the tribunal did not err in law, it is the position of the law that the onus of proof lies with the petitioner who approaches the court.

“The tribunal was therefore right because where the petitioner fails to discharge that burden it is deemed that he has failed in that responsibility since it is he who alleges that must prove his case”.

Justice Garuba also disagreed with the appellant on the purported reliance of the tribunal on a supposed obsolete Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended to arrive at its judgment.

He said, “on whether it was proper by the Tribunal to rely on Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, to arrive at its judgment, we have gone through that judgment, there was no mention of that section in the discus of that suit.

“It is our position therefore that the appeal is bereft of merit, the grounds of appeal failed and the appeal is dismissed”.

In his reaction to the appellate court’s judgment, Governor Ortom said it was a confirmation of the popular mandate he enjoys from the people and urged the PDP candidate and his supporters to join hands with him to develop the state.

Counsel to the PDP, Donald Kertyo, however, said his team would test the ruling at the Supreme Court.

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