NASS: Edo Tribunal dismisses LP, APC petitions against Akpatason, Iyawe for lack of merit

The National/House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, has affirmed the return of a House of Representative member, representing Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency, Hon. Peter Akpatason by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the February 25, 2023 Election.

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 3-man panel.

The panel dismissed Omobayo Marvellous 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 3rd respondent (Independent National Electoral Commission) unlawfully declared Akpatason winner of the election.

It will be recalled that INEC declared Akpatason the winner of the election with 14, 982 votes, while Omobayo Marvellous Godwin of the Labour Party came third with 7992.

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.

The Petitioners also prayed the court to nullify the election on the grounds of election malpractices, irregularities, just as they alternatively prayed the tribunal to order a rerun of some polling units where elections according to them were disrupted.

However, the tribunal in a unanimous decision ruled that the evidence put forward by the petitioner was weak, porous and dismissed it accordingly.

The tribunal also dismissed the petition of Hon. Osaro Osazee 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 bordered mainly on the qualification of the 2nd respondent, Hon. Esosa Iyawe.

The Tribunal averred 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 first 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 declared winner of the Oredo Federal Constituency election as conducted on February 25, 2023”.


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