Date: December 6, 2023 11:31 pm
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, dismissed the appeal filed by Titus Uba and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which sought an order setting aside the judgment of the Benue State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal tribunal which upheld the election victory of Governor Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress.
After Alia was declared winner of the governorship poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Uba and the PDP approached the Tribunal, insisting that the governor was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the poll.
They alleged his deputy, Samuel Ode, submitted a forged certificate to INEC in contravention of Section 182(1)(j) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
They also claimed the governor’s name was submitted to INEC after the constitutionally stipulated time had passed for them to do so.
But the three-member panel of the tribunal chaired by Justice Ibrahim Karaye, dismissed the petition on the grounds that it is a pre-election matter and for being statute-barred.
As a result, Uba, and subsequently, the APC entered appeals and cross appeals in the matter.
Passing its judgment, a three-member panel of the Appeal Court led by Justice Onyekachi Aja Otisi, declared that there was nothing wrong with the Tribunal’s decision, declining jurisdiction on the petition.
The court held that the nomination and sponsorship of the governor and his deputy by the APC was done in line with relevant laws and agreed with the orders of a High court.
“Issues of nomination are a pre-election matter and do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal,” the court held.
The court said the allegation that the deputy governor had forged a certificate was a pre-election matter that ought to have been ventilated before the Federal High Court.
The court further held that the allegation of forgery was not proven beyond reasonable doubts.
“Appellants failed to present elements of forgery against the deputy governor.
“The destiny of this appeal is obvious and is hereby dismissed,” the court held.