By Charles Igwe
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has invalidated Gabriel Suswam’s position as the Senator representing Benue North-east Senatorial District in the National Assembly. In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices, the court ruled that Suswam was not the legitimate winner of the senatorial election that took place on February 25.
The Court of Appeal found fault with the judgement of the Benue State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, which had nullified the election of Emmanuel Udende from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and reinstated Suswam.
The appellate court determined that the tribunal had incorrectly assessed the evidence presented by the parties involved, leading to an erroneous conclusion that upheld Suswam’s petition to challenge Udende’s election victory. As a result, the court nullified the tribunal’s decision, citing the merit in the appeal lodged by the APC candidate.
In the initial election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Udende the winner of the senatorial race after he received 135,573 votes, surpassing Senator Suswam’s 112,231 votes.
Dissatisfied with the election’s outcome, Suswam approached the tribunal, alleging over-voting, irregularities, alterations, and falsification of results.
The tribunal ruled in favor of Suswam, affirming that irregularities occurred in five out of seven Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the Senatorial District. As a result, the tribunal annulled 51,895 votes counted for Senator Udende and 21,229 votes counted for Senator Suswam.
Following the deduction of the inflated votes, Senator Suswam was left with 90,590 votes, while Senator Udende received 82,699 votes.