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Appeal Court nullifies tribunal judgement, sacks Suswam as senator

Senator Gabriel Suswam of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Benue State has been sacked by the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.


Suswam was Wednesday, November 1, sacked from the Senate following the appeal court’s nullification of the state electoral tribunals’ judgement which upturned the victory of his rival, Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at the polls and which was declared by the State Electoral Commission, SEC, sequel to the February 25, 2023 senatorial elections which held in the state amongst others across the country.

In a unanimous decision, the three-member panel of the court ruled that the Benue state former governor who represented the North-East senatorial district of the state was not the legitimate winner of the senatorial election.

The court voided the certificate of return issued to Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and directed The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give a new certificate of return to Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The panel criticised the Benue State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal’s decision to nullify Udende’s election and return Suswam to the Senate.

The appellate court said the tribunal reached an incorrect result after upholding Suswam’s petition to contest Udende’s victory and incorrectly assessed the evidence brought before it by the parties.

Consequently, the court declared that it saw merit in the APC candidate’s appeal, and it overturned the tribunal’s decision.

“The return of the Appellant as the winner of the Benue North East senatorial election that was held on February 25 is hereby affirmed. Parties are to bear their respective cost,” the panel led by Abimbola Obaseki-Adejumo, said.

Recall that INEC had reportedly declared Udende the winner of the senatorial election after he polled 135,573 votes to defeat Suswam, who got 112,231 votes.

This was the second time Suswam was losing his senatorial bid for the Benue North East senatorial district after losing out to Engr. Barnabas Gamade in 2015.

Suswam, however dissatisfied with the results of the 2023 elections, challenged the outcome and went to the tribunal, claiming that excessive voting, anomalies, changes, and results fabrication had tainted the election.

The tribunal in its ruling held that the former Governor proved that anomalies occurred in five of the senatorial district’s seven local government areas.

But APC’s Emmanuel Udende who was also dissatisfied by the tribunals’ ruling appealed the judgement at the appealate court which today, reinstated his victory at the polls as the legitimate winner of the Benue State North East senatorial district election and setting aside former Governor Suswam.

A peep into his political career reveals that Barrister Emmanuel Memga Udende, born December 30 1960, was elected to the Federal House of Representatives in 2011 to represent Ukum/Katsina-Ala/Logo Federal Constituency on the ticket of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

He was re-elected to the House in 2015 on same party ticket but cross-carpeted to the APC in 2016 citing leadership crises in the party.

However, Udende failed to return to the House in 2019 but in 2022, clinched the nomination of his party to run for Benue North East senatorial seat after polling 211,887 to defeat his major opponent Chief Terlumun Akputu who scored 84,304 in a direct primary election.

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