House: Benue Lawmaker Loses Seat As Apex Court Orders Fresh Election
SAN FRANCISCO, May 30, (THEWILL) â€' A member of the House of Representatives, representing Buruku Federal Constituency of Benue State, Mr. Orker Jev, has lost his seat.
Jev, who was elected on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), was Friday ordered to vacate his seat by the Supreme Court, which upheld an earlier verdict of the Court of Appeal.
The apex court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh election within 90 days to fill the vacant seat vacated by Jev.
Jev had taken his case to the apex court following the Appeal Court ruling in a suit involving him, Serkar Iortyom, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and , ACN , now All Progressives Congress (APC). The appeal court had ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to him following a suit
Iyortom instituted against the ACN, INEC and Jev at the Federal High Court alleging that his name was wrongfully substituted by his party with the name of Jev shortly before the 2011 general elections. After hearing the suit, the trial court in Makurdi entered judgment in favour of Sekav on the grounds that the ACN (now APC) erred in law by substituting the name of Sekav with that of Jev.
Presiding judge, Justice Walter Onoghen, directed that the name of Jev be removed from the ballot box and replaced with that of the 1st respondent (Iortyom).
The panel also ordered that the appellant (Jev) 'shall pay the sum of N500, 000 (Five hundred thousand Naira) to each of the respondents except the 2nd respondent (INEC).
'This appeal is devoid of merit; it is hereby accordingly dismissed. There must be a fresh election to elect a new member for the Buruku Federal Constituency in the National Assembly,' the presiding judge said.
According to the panel, the first respondent, it would be improper to declare Serkar Iortyom winner and asked to be sworn in following Jev's ouster because such an order would violate the provisions of Section 141 of the Electoral Act.
In upholding the ruling of the Appeal Court, the Supreme Court wondered how a ward that has a total of 601 registered and accredited voters would have a result in excess of 2,000 vote casts.
'Even if all the voters voted for the apellant, he would not have scored 2,000 votes in excess to emerge winner,' the panel noted.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi had in March 2012 upheld the ruling of a Federal High Court Makurdi which ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Jev, and hand same to Mr. Sekav Iyortyom also of the ACN.