Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Wednesday at about 7:30pm filed his defence before the Governorship, National and State Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, with his attorney general hopeful of victory.
The Benue State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Michael Gusa, said the governor’s team of lawyers has raised preliminary objections asking the court to dismiss the petition for lack of merit.
Gusa said: “The petition should be dismissed because we are saying that it lacks merit and so it should be dismissed or struck out.
“In fact, in the first instance, we have seen a lot of infractions against the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, so we have raised preliminary objections that the case be dismissed and also gone ahead to attack the petition on the merit.”
The lead counsel, Sabastine Hon (SAN), said Ortom filed his defence within time and has fulfilled his statutory duty of attaching all the document he would be relying on in the course of the case.
Hon, who was defended the governor at the tribunal over the 2015 election, said the two cases have some striking similarities, although the circumstances are slightly different.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressives Congress had filed the petition challenging the re-election of Ortom.
In the disputed election, Ortom of the Peoples Democratic Party polled 434,473 votes to defeat Jime who scored 345,155 votes.
Jime’s counsel, Sunday Ameh, urged the tribunal to upturn Ortom’s victory and declare his client the winner of the 2019 governorship election, having scored the highest number of lawful votes.