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Edo Tribunal affirms return of Peter Akpatason, House of Rep

On Monday, the National/House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Benin, the Edo State capital, affirmed the return of Peter Akpatason, the House of Representatives member representing the Akoko-Edo federal constituency.

The decision was rendered by a three-man panel led by Justice Justice Yusuf Mohammed in the petition marked EPT/ED/HR/10/2023 and filed by Labour Party candidate Omobayo Marvellous Godwin.

The panel dismissed Godwin’s plea as “meritless” and “incompetent,” noting that the tribunal could not make a case for the petitioners.

According to the court, the petitioners bear the burden of proof and must not depend on the respondents’ admissions, as the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof as required by law, and so the petition is dismissed.

The panel also found that the petitioners failed miserably to establish that the third respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, pronounced Akpatason the winner of the election in violation of the law.

INEC named Akpatason the election winner with 14, 982 votes, while Godwin of the LP finished third with 7992 votes.

Dissatisfied with the declaration, Omobayo petitioned the tribunal to overturn Akpakpava’s election on the grounds of noncompliance with the terms of the Electoral Act, 2022, among other things.

The tribunal also dismissed Hon. Osaro Obazee of the APC’s challenge for a lack of merit in the election of Esosa Iyawe, winner of the February 25, 2023 Oredo Federal Constituency, to the House of Assembly.

Justice K. A. Leweanya delivered the panel’s majority decision, holding that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, which is primarily based on the qualifications of the second respondent, Hon. Esosa Iyawe.

According to the tribunal, the points mentioned in the petition were pre-election topics that should have been addressed in the Federal High Court within 14 days of the event’s occurrence.

“We held that the second respondent was a member of the third respondent, was lawfully elected by the party’s primary election, and was duly presented to INEC for the election.”

“This petition is accordingly rejected, and the 2nd respondent is declared the winner of the Oredo Federal Constituency election held on February 25, 2023.”

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