The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday affirmed the election of Governor Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress of Benue State.
It dismissed the appeal filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Titus Uba challenging Alia.
The candidate of the PDP in the March 18, 2023 governorship election had approached the appellate court seeking it to set aside the judgment of the Benue State Elections Petitions Tribunal, which upheld Alia’s election.
Uba, among other prayers, alleged that 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 Alia’s name was submitted less than 180 days before the election date and Ode’s name was also not submitted to INEC after the party conducted a further rerun 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, the panel, led by Justice Onyekachi Aja Otisi, held that Uba failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the allegations of forgery against Ode.
The Court held: “The appellant failed to prove the allegation of forgery beyond reasonable doubt.
“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 has 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 prescribed for the submission of name by the Electoral Act will collapse.
It held: “There is a difference between an election conducted based on court order and that of the Electoral Act.
“The timeline by the Act will collapse where there is a court order.
“The appeal hereby fails.
“Parties shall bear their cost.”