The Benue State Gubernatorial Election Petition Tribunal on Saturday upheld the election of Governor Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress (APC), held on March 18, 2023.
The tribunal held in the case brought before it by Titus Uba, the Governorship candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), that the allegations against the APC and its candidate could not be proven by the petitioners.
Delivering judgement, the three-member panel, led by Justice Ibrahim Karaye, unanimously held that the petition against Alia was incompetent because issues raised therein were pre-election matters and ought to have been heard and determined by the Federal High Court.
Justice Karaye therefore struck out Uba’s petition for want of jurisdiction, stressing that the case was an abuse of process.
The tribunal established that the allegations were unfounded in the argument of petitioners that the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Alia and his deputy, Sam Ode were at the time of contesting the election not qualified to contest as they averred that the 4th respondent, the APC did not followed 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, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and therefore should be disqualified.
The petitioners had prayed among other things for the nullification of their (APC) election and to declare them (petitioners) winners of the said election having scored second highest lawful votes.
But Justice Karaye held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of forgery against the 3rd respondent before the tribunal.
The tribunal added that the 2nd and 3rd respondents were qualified to contest the March 18 governorship election and therefore dismissed the case.
Earlier, the Petitioners, Titus Uba, and the PDP had dragged the respondents, INEC, Alia, Ode, and the APC before the tribunal, challenging their declaration by the INEC.
Reacting to the judgement, the Deputy Governor of the state, Ode, who was present at the court, hailed the tribunal for affirming the election of his boss, Alia, and called on the opposition PDP to join hands with the present government to develop the state.
Also, the Counsel to the respondents, Mamman Osuman, (SAN), appreciated the ruling while noting that he knew that the petition was dead on arrival as it lacked merit and constituted a waste of resources.
However, the counsels to the petitioners, Clement Mue and Okon Efut (SAN) declined comments.