A’Court Dismisses PDP’s Appeal, Affirms Alia as Benue Governor

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the appeal filed by Titus Uba of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the election of Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia as Governor of Benue State.

A three-member panel of the appellate court, in a judgment delivered on Monday, held that the appeal lacked merit and subsequently dismissed it.

Justice Onyekachi Otisi, who delivered the lead judgment, subsequently affirmed the judgment of the Benue State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which had in September affirmed the declaration of Alia of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the March 18 governorship election in Benue State.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Alia, a Catholic priest, winner of the Benue guber poll having scored 473,933 votes ahead of his closest rival Uba, who scored 223,913.

Dissatisfied, Uba and PDP had approached the governorship election tribunal to challenge INEC’s return of Alia as governor.

Amongst others, they sought the disqualification of Alia on account of alleged certificate forgery and providing of false information in the form EC9 by the deputy governor, Sam Ode.

However, in their judgment, the three-member tribunal led by Justice Ibrahim Karaye dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.

The tribunal had held that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition on grounds that the matters raised before it were pre-election issues as captured in section 285 of the Electoral Act.

In the unanimous judgment, the tribunal held that the petitioners ought to have pursued its case of non-qualification, forgery and perjury beyond the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal and not the tribunal.

Not satisfied, Uba and PDP approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the tribunal on grounds that the lower tribunal erred in law in dismissing their case.

Amongst reliefs sought include the setting aside of the judgment of the tribunal and nullification of the election of Alia as governor of Benue State.

They also requested the court to declare them as the authentic winner of the election after voiding the election of Alia of the APC.

However, the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, resolved all issues raised against the appellant and affirmed the judgment of the tribunal which upheld Alia’s declaration as governor of Benue State.

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