In a pivotal decision, the Benue State National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal nullified Senator Emmanuel Udende’s election. Udende, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), initially won the Benue North East Senatorial District seat.
He secured 135,573 votes in the February 25, 2023, National Assembly election. His opponent, Senator Gabriel Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), garnered 112,231 votes.
Suswam, however, contested the election outcome. He cited over-voting, irregularities, and result falsification as grounds for his petition.
The Tribunal examined evidence and testimonies from both sides. It invalidated 51,895 votes for Udende and 21,229 votes for Suswam.
After the vote adjustment, Suswam led with 90,590 votes, while Udende had 82,699. The court then ordered INEC to issue a new certificate of returns to Suswam.
A Milestone for Democracy and Judicial Oversight
The Tribunal’s recent ruling is a significant milestone for democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria. It demonstrates the judiciary’s crucial role in ensuring fair electoral processes.
The case also brings to light the urgent need for electoral reforms—evidence of over-voting and falsification points to systemic issues that must be addressed.
Those in power should take immediate steps to rectify these irregularities. Strengthening the electoral process is not just a political necessity; it’s a moral imperative.
The Tribunal’s decision serves as a wake-up call. It reminds us that the judiciary remains critical in upholding democratic values.
Did You Know?
- Benue State is often called the “Food Basket of the Nation” due to its agricultural richness.
- The Benue River is a major tributary of the Niger River.
- Gabriel Suswam, the senator at the centre of this case, is a former Governor of Benue State.
- The APC and the PDP are Nigeria’s two major political parties.
- Nigeria’s bicameral legislature comprises the Senate and the House of Representatives.