Monday, September 9, 2019 10:06 pm
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin, Edo State, on Monday dismissed a petition filed before it by Johnson Agbonayinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging the victory of the member representing Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Jude Ise-Idehen, in the February 23, 2019 election.
The judgement handed down by the Tribunal caused wild jubilation among members of the Edo State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, who were at the Tribunal.
Agbonayinma had asked the Tribunal to nullify the election of Ise-Idehen and order a fresh election in Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency.
He said the election was inconclusive as the margin of win is less than registered voters of areas where elections did not hold.
The three-man Tribunal in its earlier ruling on motions filed by the respondents at the pre-hearing session, ruled that the respondents filed their replies to the petition out of the 21 days stipulated by law.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice O. Ogundana, who read the judgment, however said that the non-response of the respondents does not mean judgment would be passed in favour of the petitioners.
According to him, witnesses called by the plaintiff failed to prove real irregularities observe during the election.
On the tape recording of confession of an INEC ad hoc staff, the Tribunal Chairman ruled that there was no evidential weight to the tape recording.
He also said that documents such as statement to the police could not be admitted in evidence.
Justice Ogundana noted that petitioners in electoral matters have to prove the merit of their pleadings.
According to him, “The court does not dwell on sentiments. This will not translate to judgment in favour of the plaintiff. The plantiff must prove his case.
“A plaintiff must rely on his own evidence. If the evidence led by him is not satisfactory, then he has not made out prima facie case. A party is not entitled to judgment simply because the respondents failed to respond,” Ogundana said.
“The case must crumble. The petitioners have not proved their grounds. The petition is dismissed,” he said.