The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Wednesday, nullified the election of former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, as senator representing North East Senatorial District of the state.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, said it was satisfied that Suswam was not the valid winner of the senatorial election that held on Feb. 25.
It faulted the judgement of the Benue State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal which returned Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the Senate, after it nullified the election victory of Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to the appellate court, the tribunal wrongly evaluated the evidence that was presented before it by the parties in the matter and thereby arrived at an erroneous conclusion that upheld the petition Suswam filed to challenge Udende’s election victory.
Consequently, the court voided the judgement of the tribunal, saying it found merit in the appeal that was lodged before it by the APC candidate.
“The judgement of the tribunal delivered on 8th of September, 2023 is hereby set aside.
“The return of the appellant as the winner of the Benue North East senatorial election that was held on February 25 is hereby affirmed.
“Parties are to bear their respective cost,” the court held in its lead verdict that was delivered by Justice Abimbola Adejumo, who led the panel.
It was reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Udende as winner of the senatorial election after he polled a total of 135,573 votes to defeat Suswam who garnered 112,231 votes.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the election, Suswam approached the tribunal on the ground that it was marred by over-voting, irregularities, alterations and falsification of results.
In its judgement, the tribunal held that Suswam successfully established his case that irregularities took place in five out of seven LGAs in the senatorial district.
The tribunal cancelled 51,895 votes entered for Udende and also cancelled 21,229 votes entered for Suswam.
After subtracting the padded votes, Suswam was left with 90,590 while Udende scored 82,699 votes.
The tribunal, headed by Justice Ori Zik-Ikeoha, entered judgment in Suswam’s favour, a decision that was vacated by the appellate court on Wednesday.