The Court of Appeal, Makurdi Judicial Division, sitting at Abuja says Titus Uba, the 2023 Benue gubernatorial candidate of PDP has no locus to challenge the return of Fr. Hyacinth Alia and Sam Ode as the winner of the 2p23 Benue Governorship election and consequently dismissed the PDP man’s appeal.
Honourable Justice Onyekachi Otisi, Presiding Judge (PJ), who delivered the lead judgment adds that even if Uba did has locus, he failed to establish the case of forgery against Governor Alia’s Deputy, Sam Ode.
All three justices held that the issues raised are pre-election in nature, adding that even if Uba and PDP have locus, they failed to prove the case of forgery.
It was resolved with respect to Uba’s allegation of forgery against Sam Ode that even if he had approach the fed High Court, Uba would have been caught up with the principle of statute bar for the reason that only 14 days are allowed to initiate action from the day INEC publish list of candidates for elections.
On the strenght of evidence before the court with respect to the case of forgery, the court held that Uba and PDP did not tender the original copy of Sam Ode’s Form EC9, didn’t submit signatures to compare, only submitted photocopies and called a witness who is no longer in the employment of the Federal High Court to testify on the subject, contrary to the position of the law.
It was further held that since Uba and PDP are not challenging the (paper) qualification of Ode but his attestation form (EC9), the alleged forgery of Form EC9 by the deputy governor cannot be entertained by the Tribunal.
All issues in the main appeal were therefore, resolved in favour of Fr. Alia, INEC, Sam Ode and APC and the appeal consequently dismissed. Parties are ordered to bear their cost.
In the cross appeal by APC, which was filed on 6th October, asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling of the lower Tribunal, which allowed evidence by Petitioners Witness (PW)1 – PW3, the appellate court held that the lower court was wrong to have held that PW1 to PW3 were competent and was wrong to have admitted their evidence.
The ruling of the Tribunal, holding that PW1 to PW3 were competent was consequently set aside as their evidence along side documents tendered through them expunged.
Although the Court of Appeal upheld the Preliminary Objection by Uba and APC against the cross appeal by Sam Ode, today’s judgment brings it to the third defeat in court the appellants have suffered in the hands of Fr. Alia, Ode and APC before and after the 2023 general election.
Sam Ode, who was in court says the judgment is affirmation of the votes and wishes of the people do Benue State.
He is hopeful that the opponent’s will join them in developing the state.
There is no immediate reaction from the appellants but a source which would not want to be quoted says they will “get the CTC of the judgment, study before reacting” to same.
It is understood that the copies of the judgment will be ready tomorrow.