23rd September, 2023
By Emmanuel Antswen
The bid by Titus Uba, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and his party to upturn the victory of Gov. Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the March 18 Benue Governorship Election failed at the state governorship election tribunal on Saturday.
Delivering the judgment, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Ibrahim Karaye, described the petitions of Uba and PDP as abuse of court processes.
The tribunal, in a unanimous judgment, noted that PDP and Uba had taken the complaints they brought before them to a Federal High Court Abuja Division and they failed.
The tribunal noted that the judgment of the Federal High Court was not challenged by the petitioners.
The tribunal therefore held that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the petitions as the complaints therein are pre-election matters.
Karaye, who read the unanimous judgment, stated that only the Federal High Court had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain issues bordering on pre-election matters.
He said the petitioners lacked locus standi to challenge the nomination of the 2nd and 3rd respondents by the 4th respondent since they were not members of the 4th respondent.
Justice Karaye further said that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of forgery against the 3rd respondent before the tribunal.
He said the 2nd and 3rd respondents were qualified to contest the March 18 Governorship Election and therefore, dismissed the case.
The petitioners, Titus Uba and the PDP had dragged the respondents, INEC, Hyacinth Alia, Dr Sam Ode, and the APC before the tribunal, challenging their declaration by the INEC.
The petitioners argued that the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Gov Alia and Dr Ode, were at the time of contesting the election, not qualified to contest the March 18 Governorship Election.
They averred that the 4th respondent – the APC – did not follow the provisions of the law in the nomination of the governorship and deputy governorship candidates.
They also alleged that the 3rd respondent had presented a forged certificate to the 1st respondent, INEC, therefore, should be disqualified.
They, therefore, prayed among other things, for the nullification of their election and declared the petitioners as winners of the election, having scored second highest lawful votes.
They also contended that having not qualified to contest the election, their votes should be declared invalid and certificates earlier issued to them by INEC be withdrawn.
The petitioners in the suit did not challenge the result of the March 18 Benue Governorship Election but the qualifications of the candidates.
However, the respondents in their counterarguments, urged the tribunal to dismiss the suit in its entirety as it was an abuse of court processes.
The respondents stated that the Federal High Court Abuja Division had before the election, delivered judgment on the same matter which was filed by the petitioners but they did not appeal the judgment to date.
They also said that the issues raised were all pre-election matters and only the Federal High Court had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain same.
The 2nd and 3rd respondents clearly stated that since the prayers sought by the petitioners were all pre-election matters, the petitioners’ case was statute-barred and should be struck out.
They said the petitioners lacked locus standi to challenge the nomination of candidates of other political parties as they were mere meddlesome interlopers.