The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, Wednesday, set aside the judgement of the Benue State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal which declared former governor Gabriel Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the senatorial election held on February 25.
The appellate court equally upheld the election of Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Udende the winner of the election, saying he garnered 135,573 votes to defeat Suswam who had 112,231 votes.
But Suswam approached the Tribunal for redress.
At the Tribunal, a majority decision by judges (2-1) of the panel of the tribunal led by Ory Zik-Ikeorha, agreed with Suswam’s legal team that there was over-voting, irregularities, alterations and falsification of results during the poll particularly “in five out of the seven LGAs that make up the senatorial district”.
Subsequently, the panel deducted 51,895 votes from Udende and also cancelled 21,229 votes from Suswam’s score, before announcing the later winner.
Parties then approached the appellate court for final determination of the matter.
On Wednesday, a three-man panel of the court held that the Tribunal erred in recalculating the votes scored by candidates because Suswam failed to prove that overvoting occurred during the polls.
“The decision of the Tribunal is hereby set aside,” the appeal court said while affirming INEC’s return of Udende as the valid senatorial candidate.