BREAKING: Benue guber: Tribunal to deliver judgment in Uba vs Alia on Saturday
Parties to the petition already notified
By Joe Odege
The Benue State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal is to deliver its judgment in the petition filed by Rt. Hon. Titus Uba, candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the election of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia of the All Progessives Congress (APC) as the Governor of Benue state on Saturday, September 23 by 9.00 am.
Stateflash.com gathered from reliable sources that the date and time has already been communicated to all the parties to the petition.
Judgment in the case was reserved on August 14, 2023 following the adoption of final addresses by counsel the parties in the petition.
PDP and its candidates, Uba, in their final address, urged theTribunal to nullify the declaration of Governor Hyacinth Alia and his Deputy, Dr. Samuel Ode as winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the State for alleged forgery and being nominated out of time.
In the petition marked EPT/BN/GOV/01/2023, PDP and Mr. Uba alleged that Governor Alia and his Deputy, Ode, were at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election as their sponsorship was invalid “having been done 44 days to the date of the election, which is less than the mandatory period of 180 days required by law for political parties to submit the names of their candidates,” and that the Deputy Governor presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in his form EC-9.
Mr. Okon, while adopting the petitioners’ final written address submitted that the case of the petitioners was not that the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ode submitted false information to INEC, but that “he presented a forged certificate to INEC,” and “the issuing authority, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, had issued a disclaimer to that effect and even sent two of its staff who came and testified at the tribunal, disclaiming the oath form attached to Ode’s Form EC-9.”
The petitioners pointed out six visible differences between the Form EC-9 of Governor Alia which was marked exhibit 4 and that of his deputy, “despite both forms being allegedly sworn and commissioned at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
PDP and Uba also drew the attention of the tribunal to the purported endorsement for the payment on the Deputy Governor’s INEC Form EC-9 , which was done on May 25, 2022.
The petitioners submitted that “as at 25th day of May, 2022, when the assessment for payment of the said Form EC-9 was done, the primary election of the APC to produce the governorship candidate of the 4th respondent had not even been held, as the first gubernatorial primary election of the APC was conducted on the 27th and 28th May, 2022 and the re-run of same was done on the 9th of June, 2022 and further rerun was done on February 3rd, 2023.”
The petitioners submitted that “it could not be true to say that Mr. Ode who was later to emerge as a deputy governorship candidate only on August 12, 2022 started processing his INEC form EC-9 when the primary election to produce the governorship candidate of the APC had not yet taken place.”
They further stated that Governor Alia and his deputy, Ode, “in their respective replies also admitted presenting the Form EC-9 to INEC, and Ode did not bother to come to the tribunal to respond to the case of presentation of a forged certificate made against him and also did not call a witness.”
The petitioners submitted that “the implication of the abandonment of his pleadings was that the Deputy Governor had admitted that he presented a forged certificate, contrary to the provisions of Section 182(i)(j) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
The petitioners who called five witnesses to argue their case held that the sponsorship of the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Governor Alia and his Deputy Ode respectively) “breached the provisions of Section 177(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“In addition, the 3rd respondent presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (1st respondent), contrary to Section 182(1) (j) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). By virtue of section 134(1)(a) & (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and section 285(2) of the 1999 Constitution, petitioners have approached this Honourable Tribunal for redress.”
Meanwhile counsels to INEC, Ishiaku Dikko, counsel to Governor Alia, Samuel Ameh, that of Dr. Ode, Mamman Osuman, as well as the APC counsel, Mathew Burkaa, all Senior Advocates urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.
At that point, the three-member panel led by Justice Ibrahim Karaye adjourned the matter for judgment on a date to be communicated to the parties.