The atmosphere in Benue State is electric as the Election Petition Tribunal, stationed in the bustling city of Makurdi, readies itself to unveil the highly awaited judgement concerning the petitions revolving around the March governorship election in the state.
Every concerned party involved in the petitions has been formally notified of the timing and date for the judgment, heightening the already charged atmosphere, steeped in expectation and intrigue.
At the heart of this legal battle lies the March gubernatorial election, a contest in which Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, representing the All Progressives Congress (APC), was initially declared the victor by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
When announcing the election result, the State Returning Officer, Professor Farouk Kuta, explained that he relied on the “provisions of section 24(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Electoral Guideline of INEC” to declare the election’s result, despite a pending election in Kwande LGA. According to Prof. Kuta, the APC candidate amassed a total of 473,933 votes, surpassing Mr. Uba of the PDP, who secured 223,913 votes.
However, the declared results left the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Titus Uba, unsatisfied. In response, Uba and the PDP took the case to the tribunal, seeking to nullify Alia and the APC’s victory. Their petition was grounded in allegations of forgery and the untimely nomination of Alia and his Deputy, Samuel Ode.
During the final arguments presented, the PDP and Uba urged the tribunal to annul the declaration of Alia and Ode as the winners of the March 18, 2023 governorship election, alleging irregularities in the nomination process. Conversely, counsels representing INEC, Governor Alia, and Ode, as well as the APC, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, argued for the dismissal of the petition, asserting its lack of merit.
The suspense has reached a crescendo as the three-member panel, led by Justice Ibrahim Karaye, adjourned the proceedings, setting the stage for the upcoming judgment. This adjournment has heightened the already tense ambiance, leaving the people of Benue State on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting the tribunal’s ruling.
In the days leading up to the judgment, the state has been abuzz with discussions, analyses, and predictions. The outcome of this verdict is poised to shape the political landscape of Benue State, making it a pivotal moment in the state’s political history. All eyes are now firmly fixed on Saturday, as the tribunal prepares to unveil the decision that will have far-reaching implications for the state’s governance and political trajectory. The echoes of this judgment will resonate through the corridors of power in Benue State and reverberate across the nation.