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INEC’s Returning Officer faults Appeal tribunal verdict on Senator David Mark

Senator David Mark
Senator David Mark

Following recent nullification of Senator David Mark election, by a Makurdi Appeal tribunal on the premise that the result of the Benue South senatorial district election was announced while the collation of the result was ongoing, the Returning Officer (RO) in that election, Prof. Latif Tiamiyu faulted the ruling and submitted that the former Senate President won the election

“I have an integrity to protect and I am ready defend it at anytime. The election was peacefully conducted on March 28, .We started collation through March 29 and 30th when the result was declared”, Professor Tiamiyu stated.

Prof Tiamiyu insisted that the result of the poll was announced after the collation of all the results had been completed.

It would be recalled that Mark’s victory at the March 28th., 2015 National Assembly elections, was challenged by Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who petitioned the Benue state Legislative Houses elections tribunal seeking the cancellation of the election and an order asking the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh election in the district.

The Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu led trial panel had on October 7, 2015 dismissed Onjeh’s petition on the ground that evidences tendered before the tribunal were documentary hearsay evidences.

However, in a unanimous judgement read by Justice Peter Ige, the appellate court dismissed the judgement of the tribunal and upheld the plea of the appellant that Mark’s election failed substantially to meet with the provisions of paragraphs 39 and 40 of the INEC approved electoral guidelines and sections 73and 74 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

Justice Ige thus held that, “the appellant showed by oral evidence that collation of results were still ongoing in seven local government areas of the district when the result was declared.

“The judgement of Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu led tribunal of October 7, 2015 dismissing the petition is nullified. Therefore the election of Senator David Mark is hereby set aside.

“INEC by this judgement is to conduct fresh senatorial election in the Benue South district within 90 days.

Reacting to the ruling, in a telephone interview weekend in Makurdi, the Benue state capital, Prof. Tiamiyu contended that the claim of the tribunal that result was declared while collation was still on was a fabrication, untrue and unfounded. The University don insisted that he strictly applied himself to the provisions of the necessary laws as the Returning Officer of the Benue South Senatorial Election.

Prof. Tiamiyu who said he was ready to defend his role in that election at any fora said, “the senatorial election result of Benue South district was announced by me after the collation of the results in the nine local government areas that make up the district.

“The contention that results were announced while collation was still going on is not correct, I never announced the results while collation was still going on. That didn’t happen.

“All the results from the nine local government areas were completely collated before I announced the results. I have an integrity to protect so I am ready to defend that at anytime.” Prof. Tiamiyu added.

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