The candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for Vandeikya 1 (Tiev) State Constituency of Benue State for the March 18th, 2023 general elections, Hon. Philip James Wuhe, has rejected the verdict of the Benue State National Assembly/ Houses of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Makurdi dismissing the petition he filed against the winner of the said election and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Matthew Aondohemba Damkor.
The case which was instituted by Hon. Wuhe (the petitioner) was struck out by the Tribunal Judge citing many instances in the law and referring to the petition as a pre- election matter. This according to the petitioner deprived him of fair hearing as according to him, INEC as the electoral umpire that caused the mix-up that led to the petition before the Tribunal did not respond to the petition nor produce any witness in the matter, wondering how the Tribunal came up to dismiss the matter in its entirety and award him cost.
In the Notice of Appeal filed before the Appeal Panel in the Petition No: EPT/BN/SHA/16/2023, Hon. Wuhe opined that the Tribunal Judge erred in law with the whole decision/ judgement in petition No: EPT/BN/SHA/16/2023 necessitating him to proceed on Appeal.
He argued that the issue of swapping the candidates for Vandeikya 1 State Constituency with those of Vandeikya 2 State Constituency is not a mere misnomer as held by the Tribunal as it was a fundamental error capable of robbing 1st Respondent of the votes cast for his party as the 1st Respondent was not a contestant of the House of Assembly seat for Vandeikya 1 State Constituency during the election and after the Collation of Result for the Constituency. He has therefore premised his arguments against the judgement of the Election Petition Tribunal on five grounds of error in the judgement been delivered.
The Appellant, Hon. Wuhe has therefore sought reliefs from the Court of Appeal in an order allowing the Appeal setting aside the judgement of the Tribunal delivered on the 13th day of September 2023 including the Order as to the payment of cost, also an Order granting all the Reliefs and /or alternative Reliefs of the Appellant contained in the petition, or in the alternative directing the 3rd Respondent (INEC) to conduct a second election ( Run-off) between the 2nd Petitioner and the 1st Respondent for the Benue State House of Assembly seat for Vandeikya 1 State Constituency or in further alternative, an order nullifying the election to the House of Assembly in Vandeikya 1 State Constituency of Benue State held on 18th March 2023 and directing the conduct of a fresh election (Re- run) among all contestants.
It will be recalled that there was a mix-up from the list of candidates published by INEC for the State Constituency which swapped the names of the candidates for Vandeikya 1 State Constituency to Vandeikya 2 State Constituency. Dissatisfied with the swapping of his name to a different Constituency and announcing a winner for the said election, Hon. Philip James Wuhe of PRP dragged the candidate of APC and winner of the election, Hon. Matthew Aondohemba Damkor before the Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi calling for the cancellation of the election as his name was published in a different Constituency from the one he contested the election.