8th September, 2011
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party has suffered its first casualty at the National/ State Assemblies Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, as the Chairman of tribunal, Justice Anselm Nwaigwe today nullified the election of the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon Terhemen Tarzoor and ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to the Action Congress of Nigeria candidate, Hon Avine Agbom.
The Action Congress candidate went to the tribunal and complained of irregularities in five polling units of Benue State North Constituency, alleging that elections in those units were not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act.
In his judgment, Justice Nwaigwe declared the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Mr. Avine Agbom, as the winner of the election, saying he won majority of lawful votes cast after he cancelled the result of Tse-Tsav Polling Unit where the ACN got only eight votes and the PDP got 260 votes.
Following the cancellation of results in the polling unit, the total votes for PDP stood at 10,351 while ACN polled 10,467 thus making a vote differential 106 votes which was allocated to Hon. Agbom Nwaigwe.
Justice Nwaigwe also stated that votes at Tse-Tsav Polling Unit were allocated to political parties when no election took place there.
Speaking to newsmen on the judgment, counsel to the Speaker, Barr. Emmanuel Iaren said he would study the judgment and appeal against it.
In his reaction, Hon. Avine Agbom thanked God for the victory and also lauded the judiciary for protecting the rights of the common man.
Hon. Agbom said his desire has always been to serve the people, adding â€œI have lived for the people and want to prove my worth to uplift the lives of my people.â€
Reacting to the decision, the speaker in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terna Umah, said he was confident of reclaiming his mandate at the Court of Appeal.
PDP State Chairman, Dr. Agbo Emmanuel, stated that the party had taken note of the verdict and would appeal against it.
Governor Suswam in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Dr. Cletus Akwaya, said the ruling of the tribunal not withstanding, he still had confidence in the judiciary to examine all disputes arising from the April general elections with the view of giving justice to the Speaker.
Benue State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Conrad Wergba, stated that it was too early for the opposition to jubilate over the development.
Mr. Wergba pointed out that in line with the laws of the land Mr. Tarzoor remains the Speaker until the conclusion of the case by the Appeal Court, explaining that the Minority leader of the State Assembly, Mr. Adugu Gbileve was also facing a similar situation.
By Ubong George/Makurdi