The governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress in Benue State, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, the winner of Saturday’s election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission declared Alia, who is a Catholic priest, the winner of the poll on Monday.
The INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Faruk Kuta, said the APC candidate polled 473,933 votes to defeat his closest rival, Titus Uba of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 223,914 votes.
The Labour Party candidate, Hemma Hembe, polled 41,841 votes to come a distant third.
The APC governorship candidate won in 17 LGAs, PDP won in four LGAs and Labour Party won in one LGA.
The governorship election did not hold in Kwande local government area due to print errors in ballot papers meant for the council.
The returning officer said that the Commission relied on section 24 sub-section of the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines to declare Alia the winner of the election.
Justifying the commission’s decision, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Sam Egwu, said when the margin of lead is more than registered voters in the local government, the commission would declare a winner.
Kwande LGA with 15 Registration Areas has 172,294 registered voters while the margin of lead stands at 250,020 votes.
Alia had fought a hard battle in emerging as the APC governorship candidate. There had been battle about the authentic candidate of the party in Benue.
The Appeal Court sitting in Markurdi had in January 2023 ordered a rerun primary in 11 of the 23 local government areas of the state to determine the authentic candidate of the party.
The Appeal Court made the order while giving judgment on the case brought before it by one of the aspirants, Prof. Terhemba Shija, and added that result from the rerun be added to the existing result of the 12 local government areas.
The appellate court on the same day dismissed another appeal brought before it by another governorship aspirant, Senator Barnabas Gemade as statute barred.
However, the Catholic priest was declared the winner of the rescheduled governorship primary election of the APC in February.
The PUNCH reports that the entrance of Alia into the APC had caused unrest within the rank and file of the party and outside it, particularly, in the ruling PDP in the state.
In the build-up to the party’s primary, some of the governorship aspirants such as Gemade, Aondoaaka and Shija had envisaged that the APC would conduct its primary through the indirect mode.
As a result, many of the aspirants began to scramble for delegates only for the party under the leadership of Akume to opt for the direct mode of primary.
The angry members had maintained that the process that brought Alia as the governorship candidate was skewed against them. (Punch)