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Benue South rerun: Mark asks tribunal to strike out Onjeh's petition against him

Written By Idoma Television on Thursday, June 9, 2016 | 10:54:00 PM

The former Senate President, David Mark of PDP has on Thursday  asked the National Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi to strike out the petition against him by Mr Daniel Onjeh of APC.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Onjeh who was the senatorial flag bearer of APC at the February 20 Benue South Senatorial District rerun election earlier filed a fresh petition before the Tribunal asking for his declaration as the winner of the poll instead of Mark.

INEC had declared Mark as the winner of the poll with a margin of barely more than 12,000 votes.
Onjeh pointed out that "The purported margin of win that led to the declaration of Mark as winner of the poll was far less than the number of cancelled and rejected votes, which were over 29,000 votes."
According to him, evidence on the face of the Certified True Copy of result declaration sheets obtained from INEC has shown observed irregularities and noncompliance with Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). 

However, when the petition came up for hearing, counsel for Mark, Mr Kenneth Ikonne raised a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the case.
According to Ikonne, the petition was defective because the petitioner filed the petition out of time.
He argued that the petitioner ought to have filed within 21-days of the date of  the declaration of results by INEC but failed to comply.

"The law provides that the date of the event should be included and not excluded from  the happening of event," Ikonne said.

He pointed out that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over an incompetent case and urged the tribunal to grant his application by striking out the petition. 

Counsel for PDP, Mr  Chris Alechenu and counsel for INEC, Mr Johnson Usman aligned themselves with the  submission of Ikonne and urged the tribunal to quash the petition.
However, counsel for Onjeh, Mr Tunji Oso asked the tribunal to discountenance the submissions of counsel to the respondents.

Oso  argued  that the law has expressly excluded the date of declaration from the 21 days the petitioner has to file his case.

According to him, "the petitioner filed the case 21-days after the date of declaration which is still within time according to Section 285 of the 1999 constitution".
After hearing the arguments canvassed by all the parties in the case, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Abdullahi Sanya adjourned ruling to a date to be communicated to parties later.

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