The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed the election of Governor Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the governor of Benue State.
The court dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Titus Uba, who challenged Governor Alia’s victory in the March 18 governorship election.
Mr. Uba raised several allegations, including claims that Governor Alia’s deputy, Samuel Ode, presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and that Governor Alia’s name was submitted less than 180 days before the election date.
Additionally, Mr. Ode was allegedly not submitted to INEC after the party conducted a rerun primary election.
The tribunal had earlier dismissed Mr. Uba’s petition on the grounds that it was a pre-election matter and statute-barred.
However, Mr. Uba took the case to the Court of Appeal, seeking to set aside the tribunal’s judgment.
In its ruling on Monday, a three-member panel led by Justice Onyekachi Aja Otisi held that Mr. Uba failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the allegations of forgery against Mr. Ode.
The court stated that to prove forgery, two documents must be produced: the original and the forged document, which Mr. Uba did not provide.
Citing Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, the court determined that the high court, not the tribunal, had the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
It added that Mr. Uba lacked the locus standi to challenge the qualification of the deputy governor since he was not part of the party’s primary process.
The court further clarified that the rerun primary election was conducted in obedience to a court order, and in such cases, the timeline prescribed by the Electoral Act collapses.
The appeal was consequently deemed unsuccessful, and the court ruled that the parties involved would bear their own costs.
Governor Hyacinth Alia’s victory has now been legally affirmed, bringing an end to the legal challenge posed by the PDP candidate.
The decision reinforces the electoral process and affirms the legitimacy of the governor’s mandate in Benue State.
Source: Peoples Gazette