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Supreme Court to rule on Benue gov election petition Friday

Nigeria’s apex court, the Supreme Court will on Friday, 15 January, ruled on the petition filed by Terhemen Tazoor, the governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, against the election of Governor Samuel Ortom in the 11 April, 2015 governorship poll.

Justice Walter Onnoghen who led the panel of seven justices fixed the date for the judgment after hearing arguments from counsel to the appellants and the respondents on Monday.

Tazoor had through his lawyer asked the court to nullify the election of Ortom as he argued that he was not a member of APC as at the time of the election.

He asked the court to declare him the winner of the election. But the governor had argued that the PDP candidate did not have the locus standi to complain about his candidature since he is not a member of his party.

He further asked the apex court to uphold the verdicts of the Election Petition Tribunal and the Appeal Court which affirmed his qualification and election as governor of Benue State.

Tazoor had approached the appeal court to reverse the judgment of Benue State Governorship Election Petition which ruled that Ortom was qualified to contest the April governorship election in the state.

While insisting that Ortom was not validly nominated by APC to stand for the election, the PDP governorship candidate had sought a declaration by the appellate court to set aside the tribunal’s judgment which had dismissed his petition for lack of merit.

He also asked the court to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission to declare him winner of the April governorship poll.

But the APC had insisted that its candidate was validly nominated in conformity with the requirements of the Electoral Act, 2010, adding that the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the appellants.

The Markurdi division of Court of Appeal had in a unanimous decision read by Justice Mohammed Garba last December dismissed the appeal in its entirety for lack of merit.

The Court ruled that the appellants failed to discharge the burden of proof which rested on them, while insisting that the lower court was right in dismissing the petition.

But the PDP went ahead to appeal against the verdict at the Supreme Court.

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