The All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for Benue North-West Senatorial Zone, George Akume, has prayed the Governorship, National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi to declare him the winner of the February 23 election in the zone.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the tribunal is expected to commence sitting in Makurdi after it has received petitions and responses from respondents.
Mr Akume and the APC, in their 336-paged petition obtained on Thursday from the tribunal’s secretariat in Makurdi, are challenging the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that returned Emmanuel Orker-Jev of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the election.
NAN reports that Mr Orker-Jev of the PDP polled 157,726 to Mr Akume’s 115,422 votes.
The petitioners in the suit (Mr Akume and APC) in an alternative prayer, urged the court to order fresh polls where elections did not hold or were marred by malpractices or irregularities, especially in polling units within Buruku, Guma, Gboko, Gwer West and Gwer East registration areas/wards.
The petitioners said they would rely on 118 witnesses to prosecute their case, which is premised on two grounds; that the first respondent( Mr Emmanuel Orker Jev) was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes and that the election was invalid by alleged corruption and non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010.
They also averred that the series of letters of complaints by them to the INEC or its agents while the elections were ongoing were neglected.
“The total number of accredited voters as recorded in Forms EC8C(1), EC8D(1) and EC8(1) by INEC agents manually are higher than the accredited voters recorded in the Card Reader Accreditation Sheet for the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, held on 23rd day of February, 2019.
“The number of votes cast in the local government areas of Buruku, Gboko, Guma, Gwer East, Gwer West, Makurdi and Tarka are higher than the number of accredited voters in each of the local government area above mentioned”.
Mr Akume further alleged that elections were not conducted in compliance with the Act in some parts of Bruruku, Gboko, Guma, Gwer West, Gwer East, Makurdi wards.
“Some polling units in Buruku, Gboko, Guma, Gwer East, Gwer West, the total number of votes cast at the election far exceeded the total number of the PVCs collected by voters in those polling units and registration areas.”
The petitioners also alleged that Mike Gusa, the Benue Commissioner for Justice, was buying votes on the Election Day at Tse-Biaga Open Space polling unit between N500 to N1,000 with the aide of thugs, which were answerable to him and the PDP.