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Benue guber: Appeal court reserves judgement in Uba’s appeal

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, on Monday reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Hon Titus Uba and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, seeking to set aside the judgment of the tribunal which upheld the election of Hyacinth Alia as Governor of Benue State.

Uba and the PDP challenged the election, alleging that his deputy, Samuel Ode, presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, contrary to Section 182(1)(j) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

They also stated that Alia’s name was submitted less than 180 days before the election date, and Ode was also not submitted to INEC after the party conducted a further re-run primary election.

The petitioners called five witnesses, including officials of the FCT High Court and tendered documents from the bar, which were admitted as exhibits in proof of their petition.

However, a three-member panel of the tribunal, headed by Justice Ibrahim Karaye, dismissed the petition that it was a pre-election matter and was statute-barred.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Uba and the PDP appealed the tribunal’s judgment.

Uba and the PDP, in their brief or argument, submitted that the petition did not fall within the definition of pre-election matter as provided by Section 285(14)(a),(b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution, as the appellants were not questioning the actions or decisions of INEC in respect of the appellant’s participation in the election, neither were they saying any of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 in the nomination of Governor Alia or his deputy was not complied with.

The appellants submitted that they challenged the qualification of Alia and Ode to contest the governorship election in Benue State under Section 177 (1)(c)of the constitution, read together with Section 29(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

While adopting his processes on Monday, lead counsel to Uba and the PDP, Chief Sebastine Hon, SAN, urged the appellate court to allow the appeal and set aside the tribunal’s judgment.

He submitted that the Supreme Court decision on the proof of forgery is a disclaimer from the issuing institution, which was done at the trial tribunal.

He informed the Court of Appeal of the list of authorities filed by the appellants and recent judgments delivered by the Supreme Court in support of Uba’s appeal.

Counsel to INEC, Ishaka Dikko, SAN, counsel to Governor Alia, S. I.Ameh, SAN, that of Samuel Ode, Mamman Mike Osuman, SAN, and lead counsel to the APC, Mathew Burkaa, SAN, all urged the Court to dismiss the appeal.

On the cross-appeal filed by the APC and Samuel Ode, Sebastine Hon, SAN, urged the appellate Court to dismiss the cross-appeals with substantial cost as there were no records of appeal in support of both appeals since the records were transmuted out of time.

The three-member panel of justices led by Justice Onyekachi Aja Otisi reserved ruling on a date to be communicated to the parties in the appeal.

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