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Ortom/Jime: Tribunal reserves judgement in Benue guber tussle

The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Makurdi on Wednesday reserved judgement in the petition brought before it by Barrister Emmanuel Jime of APC against Governor Samuel Ortom and PDP.
Jime also dragged INEC to the tribunal for returning Samuel Ortom as winner of the 2019 Benue governorship election.
Adopting the final written address, the governor’s lead counsel,  Sebastine Hon (SAN), urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost because in his estimation, it ought not to have been filed.
“The petition is bedevilled and riddled with fundamental errors that no reasonable tribunal will grant any relief to it. It is self contradictory in many respect in terms of the figures and scores of the candidates; it is also contradictory to the evidence led,” Hon submitted.
INEC’s lead counsel, Offiong Offiong (SAN), argued that contrary to argument by Jime’s counsel that only minimal prove rather than balance of probability is required, the petitioners must prove their case on the balance of probability and not on minimal prove.
Offiong further posited that INEC was not obliged to call any witness, adding that until the petitioners prove their case that the respondent will call witness(es) to disprove same as he emphasised that the onus on the petitioners to prove non- compliance remained an uphill task with difficult legal requirements and procedure.
Also, Chris Uche (SAN), who appeared for the PDP, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition because it was founded upon misconception of well established principles of electoral jurisprudence.
But, the petitioner’ lead counsel,  Yusuf Ali (SAN), prayed the tribunal to uphold the petition and nullify the election of Ortom and declare Jime and APC as the rightful persons to be given the Certificate of Return as winner of the 2019 Benue governorship election.
Ali told the tribunal that Ortom’s lawyers misconstrued the tables and the figures in the petitioners’ final written address.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Henry Olusiyi, held that the judgement in the petition would be reserved to a date that shall be duly communicated to the parties involved in the matter.

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