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Oyo election petitions tribunal begin pre-hearing, Ortom files defence

Samuel Ortom

The Oyo Election Petitions Tribunal yesterday began its pre-hearing session amid tight security at the Iyaganku venue of the state High Court in Ibadan.

The petitioners are separately challenging the results of the 2019 general elections into the various offices in the land.

The tribunal is to parley the parties with a view to drawing up modalities for the hearing of the substantive issues.

Security operatives, including the police, military and the Department of State Services (DSS), were strategically positioned within the court premises.

Besides, Governor Samuel Ortom has filed his defence before the Benue State governorship, national and state assembly election petitions panel in Makurdi.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the exercise on Wednesday evening, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Michael Gusa, said his principal was hopeful of a positive outcome.

He said the governor’s team of lawyers had raised a preliminary objection, praying the court to dismiss the petition put in by the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate in the March 9 and 23 polls, Emmanuel Jime, for lack of merit.

The lead counsel, Sabastine Hon, SAN, submitted that the governor filed his defence within time and had fulfilled his statutory duty of attaching all the documents he would be relying on in the course of the case.

The lawyer, who also led Ortom’s legal team in 2015, noted that the two cases had some striking similarities though with varying circumstances.

In Jime’s petition filed by his counsel, Sunday Ameh, SAN, he is asking the tribunal to upturn the governor’s victory and declare him winner.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had returned Ortom of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with 434,473 votes against Jime’s 345,155 ballots.

Meanwhile, the governor has threatened to sanction “any traditional ruler in Benue State found to be shielding criminals in his domain.”

Speaking during a function at Government House, Makurdi, Ortom directed the District Head of Agila chiefdom in Ado Local Council to ensure that the police got the needed intelligence to apprehend the masterminds of the crime that resulted in the beheading of four Ebonyi indigenes in the border settlement.

He specifically gave the people seven days to produce the killers.

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