Governor Gabriel Suswam.
From Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja
The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed an appeal filed before it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi, on the alleged certificate scandal against the Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam.
This is coming barely three weeks, after the apex court ordered a fresh trail in the election petition filed by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its candidate in the 2011 governorship election in the state Dr. Steve Ugba.
Ugba is challenging the declaration of Suswam as the governor of Benue State on the grounds that the April elections were fraudulent and marred with irregularities.
The Appeal Court in an appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP) Prof. Daniel Saror, had ordered the governorship election petition tribunal also sitting in Makurdi to entertain the matter.
Affirming the Court of Appeal’s position, the Supreme Court ordered that the matter be heard afresh by the tribunal as it is not a pre-election matter as conceived.
The apex court held that the case borders on serious constitutional issues which determine the eligibility Suswan to contest the 2011 governorship election.
In unanimous decision read by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Dahiru Musdapher, the court held that issues of certificate forgery is a constitutional matter which determines eligibility of any candidate in an election.
Sitting section 182 of the 1999 constitution as amended, Musdapher maintained that no person shall be qualified to contest an election to the office of the governor with forged certificate.
“No person shall be qualified to aspire for the office of governor if he has produced a forged certificate, it is clearly wrong for the tribunal to decline jurisdiction on the matter.