The National Assembly and State Houses Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lokoja, Kogi State on Monday affirmed the election of the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaiye.
The tribunal in its judgment, that lasted two hours, dismissed the petition brought by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Smart Adeyemi against the declaration of Melaiye as the winner of the election.
According to Justice Akon Ikepeme-led tribunal, the four issues formulated for determination were resolved in favour of the respondents.
The court said the petitioner did not prove the allegation of corrupt practices made against the respondents as he did not justify the claim that votes were allotted to the first respondents indiscriminately.
It also said since the onus of proof lies on the petitioner, he had failed to show the ward by ward, polling unit by unit malpractices that were alleged to have been perpetrated during the March 28 election.
The tribunal also held that Adeyemi was unable to prove the case of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, maintaining that though there were cases of malpractices but such did not substantially affect the result of the election.
It stated that it could not uphold the petition as the petitioner failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he scored the highest number of lawful votes cast in the election.
On the allegation of non-qualification of Melaiye to contest the election over failure to participate in party primary election, the court said two reports were tendered on the conduct of the primary election.
The tribunal noted that while one originated from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lokoja claiming there was no primary, another one was tendered by the respondents, which was said to have emanated from INEC headquarters affirming the conduct of the primary election.
Justice Ikpeme however said the tribunal had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the reports brought by the witnesses as the results attached to them were the same.
The tribunal therefore said it found and held that Melaiye was validly returned as the candidate of the party, who polled the majority of the lawful votes cast, refusing all the five reliefs sought by Adeyemi.