Daniel Onjeh, who is contesting the Benue South Senatorial District seat with former Senate President David Mark, today expressed horror to discover that the area lacks representation in the Upper House, Mr. Mark’s office having been discovered to be “shut” in the last four months!
Onjeh made the revelation in a detailed statement explaining efforts by the court bailiff to serve papers from the Court of Appeal on Mr. Mark following the ruling of the Election Petition Tribunal which had struck out his petition.
The petitioner affirmed that earlier today when the bailiff went to Mr. Mark's offices on the Fourth Floor, Room 4.26 of the Senate Wing of the National Assembly, the place was under lock and key although all the adjoining offices were opened and accessible.
“As a result of this strange discovery, the Bailiff rushed down to the Reception to inquire further, and he was told that the office has been locked since April, 2016,” the statement said.
Mr. Onjeh recalled that he filed his Notice of Appeal on June 30, the same day of the Election Petition Tribunal ruling, and by July 4, the Court Record had been transmitted from the Tribunal to the Court of Appeal in Makurdi.
“Consequently, service was attempted on David Mark, at his resident in Otukpo, all efforts in this direction was to no avail. Although, INEC, and the PDP have since been served, but, being wary of the very limited time left to the effluxion of the mandatory 180 days constitutionally provided for the hearing and determination of Election Petition, we immediately filed a motion seeking an Oder for substituted service on David Mark, with all the court processes.”
He stated that the Court of Appeal accordingly granted his prayers on July 8, and ordered that Mr. Mark be served with the Notice of Appeal, the Court Record, and his side’s Brief of Argument at his office in the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
“The Bailiff left Makurdi for Abuja to serve Mark, as soon as the enrolled Order was ready, on the same day of the ruling on our motion by the Court of Appeal,” Mr. Onjeh said. “Upon arriving the National Assembly Complex, another futile attempt to serve Mark was made at about 5 pm, on Friday, July 8, 2016.
He said his side took it for granted that the failure to serve Mr. Mark might have been attributed to the fact that July 8 was a Friday, and the timing also suspect.
That left today, July 11, for the attempted service, only for the bailiff not only to find the place locked up but to be informed it had been under lock and key since April 2016, meaning that Benue South has no representation in the Senate.
“To say the least, this is appalling!” the statement said. “Even the privileged few of the Benue South indigenes cannot boast of access to our Senatorial Office, let alone the oppressed majority. It is clear that we, the people of Benue South, do not have a representative in the Senate, more so, our voice as a people has for long been completely silenced in the red chamber.”
He stressed that his side has always maintained that Mr. Mark lacks a modicum of defence to their watertight petition, which is why their only lifeline is the technicality.
According to Onjeh, “…His preliminary objection to our petition, which led to the striking out of my petition, and the current evasion of service is aimed at nothing but to delay justice until we run out of time. In spite of all these, we are confident that light will prevail over darkness.”