Makurdi - The Benue State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Makurdi on Wednesday said it would commence hearing in a petition by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the senatorial election in the state, Daniel Onje on July 27.
Onje is challenging the declaration of former Senate President, David Mark, as winner of the March 28 National Assembly election.
The petitioner has approached the tribunal to void the return of Mark over alleged irregularities in the exercise and a declaration that he (Onje) scored majority of the lawful votes cast at the poll and be declared winner.
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But the second respondent (PDP) and the other parties, according to the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mosumola Dipeolu, have distilled similar issues for determination during the pre-trial session of the petition.
Issues raised included the determination of whether or not Senator Mark was elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the poll; whether or not the election was characterised by irregularities and finally, the determination of whether or not the petitioner has proved his case to be entitled to the reliefs sought.
Mark’s lawyer, Kenneth Ikone, was granted 25 minutes to cross-examine the petitioner and the expert witness to be called by the petitioner, while Oso Adetunji, who appeared for Onje, agreed that he would make use of similar time frame to cross-examine the respondents’ witnesses.
Meanwhile, the petitioner said he has concluded the inspection of election materials and is ready to tender relevant documents before the tribunal for justice to be served while expressing confidence that he has a ‘very strong case.’
Reacting to the issue of out of court settlement and threat to life, Onje said he will not give up.
“Certainly, there is pressure on me to compromise. But as you know it is the case with me, I don’t give up on any course I am pursuing.”