Alex Enumah in Abuja and Wale Igbintade in Lagos
The Courts of Appeal in Abuja and Lagos, yesterday, affirmed the elections of Governors Kefas Agbu of Taraba State and Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State, both of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
A three-member panel of the appellate court in two separate appeals in Abuja, held that Agbu, was lawfully declared winner of the March 18 governorship election in Taraba State.
Delivering judgment in the appeal filed by Prof Yahaya Sani of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), the appellate court held that the allegations of non-compliance, irregularities and other malpractices were not proved by the appellant.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Peter Affen, the appellate court faulted the appellant for dumping documents on the court, stressing that even if there was manifest incidents of malpractices or irregularities on the face of the documents, the appellant ought to have led oral evidence to support his allegations.
The court dismissed the appeal for being incompetent and lacking merit on the grounds that the record of the proceedings transmitted to the appellate court was not complete.
Earlier, delivering judgment in the cross appeal filed by the governor, the court struck out the appeal on the grounds that the petitioner was inconsistent in the reliefs sought in his petition.
In Lagos, the appeal court, in a unanimous decision dismissed four separate appeals filed by Tonye Cole of All Progressives Congress (APC), Beatrice Itubo of Labour Party(LP), Innocent Ekwu of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), and Lulu Briggs Dumo of Accord Party respectively.
Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe, in his lead judgement held that all the Appellants failed to prove the allegation of non-compliance with the electoral Act.
The court, however, faulted the tribunal for dismissing Tonye Cole’s appeal on the ground that APC that sponsored him had withdrawn its petition against Governor Fubara’s victory.
The court held that the fact that APC withdrew its petition against Governor Fubara’s victory, does not prevent its candidate, Tony Cole, from pursuing his appeal.
Delivering judgement on Tony Cole’s appeal, Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe held that APC and its candidate, Tonye Cole did not file a joint appeal, adding that a political party cannot compel its candidate to file an appeal neither could a candidate compel a political party to do the same.
He held that the tribunal was in error when it dismissed Cole’s petition on the ground that APC that sponsored him had withdrawn its petition against Fubara’s victory, adding that the decision of the tribunal was perverse and a miscarriage of justice.
However, Justice Adegbehingbe resolved the remaining issues two, three, four, and five against the appellant and held that the lower Tribunal was right when it dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.