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Mark returns to Senate in Benue South rerun

•PDP, Ekweremadu jubilate

From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday, declared former Senate President David Mark of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) winner of Benue South re­run election conducted in nine local government ar­eas of the state.
Mark emerged winner after he polled 84,192 votes to beat his All Progressives Congress (APC)’s con­tender, Daniel Onjeh who scored 71,621 votes.
INEC’s Chief returning officer, Prof. Ishaq Shuai­bu announced the result at exactly 5:10am yesterday. This sparked wild jubila­tion in Mark’s camp.
“Having satisfied the requirement of the law, Da­vid Bonaventure Mark is hereby declared winner,” Eneji announced.
While 522, 713 were registered for the election, only 165, 093 were accred­ited, indicating voters apa­thy across the senatorial zone.
A further breakdown showed 159,557 was the number of total votes cast, of which 155,813 votes were held valid, while 3,744 were rejected as in­valid.
According to the results declared by Eneji, out of the nine local government areas of which the district is composed, Mark se­cured victory in five local government areas: Ado, Agatu, Apa, Otukpo and Okpokwu. Onjeh won in four, namely Ogbadigbo, his hometown, Ohimini, Obi and Oju LGAs.
Meanwhile, a total of 29,273 votes were can­celled, higher than the margin of win of 12,571 between Messrs Mark and Onjeh.
However, Eneji declared Mark winner despite pro­test by the APC agent who asked that the election be declared inconclusive.
With the victory, Mark is representing the Idoma Nation in the Senate for a record fifth time, having been in the Red Chamber since 1999.
To celebrate Mark’s vic­tory, Alhaji Usman Abuba­kar popularly known as Young Alhaji, a staunch supporter of David Mark had, in fulfillment of his earlier promise, thrown a big party in his Otukpo residence.
In Abuja, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu-Sher­iff, on behalf of the Na­tional Working Commit­tee (NWC), congratulated Mark on his victory.
The PDP said Mark’s victory leaves no one in doubt of his popularity and that of the PDP not only in Benue State, but also in the North Central geo-political zone and other states of the federation.
The party, in a state­ment signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, on Sunday, described Senator Mark as “a valuable statesman and national leader intensely needed in the Senate, while thanking Nigerians for their renewed support for the PDP and its candidates as demonstrated in recent elections across the coun­try.
“It is instructive to note that the PDP had won 70 percent of all the polls con­ducted since May 29, 2015, a development that under­lines the fact of its deep roots and popularity as a brand, irrespective of the transitory setback of the 2015 general elections.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, also con­gratulated Mark, on his victory.
He described the victory as one which reaffirmed Mark’s April 2015 victory in the district.
Ekweremadu, who sa­luted the people of Benue South District for their vigilance and gallantry in defence of democracy, further said that the people “proved, once again, that you cannot deceive all the people all the time, ” stress­ing that both the district and the nation’s democracy were better off with Mark in the Senate, given his na­tional pedigree, institution­al memory, legislative ex­perience, and commitment to national development.
He said: “I congratulate Senator Mark and our loyal party men and women on this well deserved-victory, which reaffirms his previ­ous victory in April 2015. We have always been con­fident that even if the elec­tion should be conducted a million times, PDP and Senator Mark would still win as many times.”