The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Monday, affirmed the election of Gov. Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor of Benue.
The appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Titus Uba, challenging the election of Mr Alia.
The candidate of the PDP in the March 18 governorship election had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgement of the tribunal, which upheld Mr Alia’s election.
Mr Uba, among other things, alleged that Mr Alia’s deputy, Samuel Ode, presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, contrary to Section 182(1)(j) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
He also claimed that Mr Alia’s name was submitted less than 180 days before the election date, and Mr Ode was also not submitted to INEC after the party conducted a further re-run primary election.
A three-member panel of the tribunal, headed by Justice Ibrahim Karaye, dismissed the petition on the ground that it was a pre-election matter and was statute-barred.
Ruling on the appeal on Monday, a three-member panel led by Justice Onyekachi Aja Otisi held that Mr Uba failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the allegations of forgery against Mr Ode.
“No other form EC9 was presented. To prove forgery, two documents must be produced: the original and the forged document. The appellant failed to prove an element of forgery by not making available the documents ”
Citing Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, the court held that the high court and not the tribunal have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
It added that the appellant lacked the locus standi to challenge the qualification of the deputy governor since he was not part of the party’s primary.
The appellate court also held that the rerun primary election was conducted in obedience to a court order, adding that the timeframe proscribed for the submission of names by the Electoral Act will collapse.
“There is a difference between an election conducted based on court order and that of the electoral act. The timeline of the act will collapse when there is a court order.
“The appeal hereby fails. Parties shall bear their own cost,” the court held.