The National/House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Monday, affirmed the return of the House of Representatives member representing Akoko-Edo federal constituency, Peter Akpatason.
The judgement, in the petition marked EPT/ED/HR/10/2023 and filed by the Labour Party candidate, Omobayo Marvellous Godwin, was delivered by Justice Justice Yusuf Mohammed-led three-man panel.
The panel dismissed Godwin’s petition for ‘lacking in merit’ and incompetent, adding that the tribunal cannot make a case for the petitioners
According to the court, the onus of proof lies on the petitioners and they must not rely on the admissions of the respondents, as the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof as required by the law, hence, the petition is dismissed
The panel also held that the petitioners failed woefully to prove that the third respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, unlawfully declared Akpatason winner of the election.
INEC had declared Akpatason the winner of the election with 14, 982 votes, while Godwin of LP came third with 7992 votes.
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Dissatisfied with the declaration, Omobayo approached the tribunal to challenge the return of Akpakpava on the grounds of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and others
The tribunal also dismissed the petition of Hon. Osaro Obazee of the APC against the election of Esosa Iyawe, winner of the February 25, 2023 Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Assembly for lack of merit.
Delivering the unanimous judgement on behalf of the panel, Justice K. A. Leweanya held that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain the petition which mainly based on the qualification of the second respondent, Hon. Esosa Iyawe.
The tribunal said that the issues raised in the petition were pre-election matters that ought to have been challenged at the Federal High Court within 14 days of the occurrence of the event.
“We held that the 2nd respondent was a member of the 3rd respondent and was duly elected by the party’s primary election and presented to INEC for the election.
“This petition is hereby dismissed and the 2nd respondent is hereby declare winner of the Oredo Federal Constituency election as conducted in February 25, 2023”.
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