Tony Osauzo, Benin
Former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Francis Alikhena, has retained his seat in the Senate, as the National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin City upheld his victory as Senator for Edo North senatorial district.
The tribunal threw out the petition filed by Engr. Abubakar Momoh of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who had alleged that Senator Alimikhena was not qualified to contest the election for not having prerequisite educational qualification in addition to a forged GCE O-level certificate.
Besides, Momoh had alleged that Senator Alimikhena did not score the majority of lawful votes cast during the election.
But the tribunal in its judgment, held that the witnesses called to give evidence on the educational qualification only relied on paragraphs in the petition and did not render original results for the tribunal’s sighting, adding that there was no evidence to show Alimikhena impersonated and that the petitioner failed to prove non-qualification.
It said the petitioners introduced new allegations in their reply when they alleged that Senator Alimikhena forged Primary School Leaving Certificate, pointing out that reply should not be used as a repair kit to fix facts not pleaded in the petition.
On the issue of not scoring the majority of lawful votes, the tribunal held that the 18 witnesses called by the petitioners did not provide evidence of cancelled results, over-voting and that ‘the witness is not a witness of truth.’
“There was no evidence to show over voting. The evidences from witnesses were hearsay. The witnesses were not eye witnesses.
“The forensic expert called by the petitioners did not qualify as an expert. His evidence was mere arithmetic calculation and academic exercise. His value is worthless.
“The petitioners have not demonstrated that if all the results are properly collated, they would have scored the majority of lawful votes.
“There was no credible evidence to prove voter buying, non-compliance with Electoral Act and corrupt practices,” the tribunal further held.
In is reaction, Senator Alimikhena said the victory was a reflection of the people’s verdict on February 23.