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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Guma/Makurdi: Appeal Court dismisses APC’s appeal, awards PDP, Mzondu 100,000 each



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The Court of Appeal, Abuja, Thursday dismissed the interlocutory appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, challenging the ruling of the National and State Assembly elections petition tribunal in Makurdi, Benue State.

The Court also ordered the APC to
pay the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its House of Representatives candidate for Guma/Makurdi Federal Constituency of Benue State, Hon. Benjamin Mzondu, the sum of N100,000 each.

The Court gave the order while ruling on the interlocutory appeal marked CA/MK/EPT/HR/BN/02 /2023.

In the interlocutory appeal, the APC was seeking to set aside the ruling of the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, in petition No:EPT /BN /HR/4/2023,delivered on Thursday, June 15th, 2023.

It will be recalled that On June 15th, 2023, the APC through its counsel Innocent Daa’gba sought for an adjournment at the tribunal to enable the party call its sole witness in the petition filed by the PDP and Mzondu, challenging the declaration of Dickson Tarkighir as the member representing Guma/Makurdi Federal Constituency of Benue State.

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The witness who was suppose to be in court on June 15th, 2023, the day the party was to close its case failed to turn up in court.

Counsel to the PDP and Mzondu, Kenneth Ikonne objected to the application for adjournment on the ground that the adjournment of June 14th, 2023, which was at the instance of counsel to Dickson Tarkighir, it was agreed that the respondents will call all their witnesses the next day.

After listening to the arguments by parties in the matter, the three-member panel led by Justice Amina Aliyu agreed with Ikonne’s submission and refused to grant the application for adjournment.

Justice Amina Aliyu pointed out that counsel to the APC did not advanced reasons why the witness was not in court, neither was there a guarantee that the witness will be in court if the application for adjournment was granted.

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This development led to the APC opening and closing its case without calling a witness.

Dissatisfied with the ruling of the tribunal, the APC challenged the tribunal verdict at the Makurdi Division of the Court of Appeal
but the matter was later transferred to Abuja division of the court.

The APC was seeking to reopen the case to enable the party call a witness in defence of petition by the PDP and Mzondu, which borders on ineligibility of the party’s candidate to contest the February 25th, 2023, elections on the grounds of alleged forgery.

In unanimous decision, the three-member panel led by Justice Muhammed Shuaibu dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit and ordered the APC to pay N100,000 each to the PDP and Mzondu.

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